Plot Gratitude

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Now that we are well into our second year as allotmenteers, I can’t help but notice a smidgen of complacency has crept onto our plot.  Last year – our first growing year – was filled with an almost childlike and perhaps slightly over enthusiastic sense of awe and wonder at our aptitude as growing, well, anything.  Everything was new, and almost like new parents celebrating their offspring’s unparalleled accomplishments, the first of everything was a triumph – the first Strawberry delicious, the first Carrots so ‘carroty’, the first Apple blossom more beautiful than any, ever before, anywhere.

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This year we are greedily wanting more.  Comparisons are being made to before – ruminating over things that grew better then, that weren’t eaten by mice or pigeons, or that didn’t fail to thrive – expectations and disappointments are higher.  Looking at the plot – and in the garden too – I’m ashamed to say I’ve been seeing a list of things to do, and overlooking the things that have been done, that have grown, that have become spectacularly lovely right under our noses.  The heaps of Strawberries ripening in the newly extended bed, the Courgettes miraculously growing plump and ready to eat, the towers of purple Sweetpeas – even more than last year – starting to open, begging to be picked and fill the house with a heady scent.

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As with everything in life, once the first ‘flush of love’ has gone, we can become complacent and stop truly seeing what is before our eyes.  We can never regain the feeling of our ‘first’ times, but we can purposely try and be mindful on the plot and continue to experience it’s gifts with a sense of wonder and gratitude.  We can stop, just for a moment, and use all of our senses to really look at things, rather than through things, and recapture the feeling of awe again.

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In this spirit, we took home our first harvest of the year this week.  It felt so good to return from the allotment with something other than the aforementioned dirty fingernails !  The Strawberries tasted deliciously sweet, and the solitary Courgette will be ceremoniously eaten over the next few days.  As for the Sweetpeas, they are arranged in a jam jar on the windowsill.  Mr O and I smell them every time we pass by.  And you know, when I look at them – really stop and look at them – I do think they may be the most beautiful ones, ever before, anywhere.

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Sown direct in June – Dwarf French Beans, Peas, Globe Artichokes, Carrots, Broccoli, Kale, Cauliflower, Swede, Beetroot, Radish, Mange Tout, Lettuce

Planted out in June – Dahlias, Geraniums, Marigolds, Cosmos, Dianthus, Zinnia, Tomatoes, Aubergine, Gherkins, Peppers, Courgettes, New Zealand Yams, Cucumber, Runner Beans

Harvested in June – Strawberries, Broad Beans, Courgette, Sweetpeas, Radish tops (for rabbits !)

🙂

Late Autumn Harvest

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Despite being slightly neglected of late, our plot continues to provide us with a great harvest – currently making it to the plate are Kale, Cabbage, Carrots, Parsnips, Spinach Beet and New Zealand Yams.  We grew New Zealand Yams for the first time this year, and digging them up and seeing the multi coloured gems for the first time was so exciting.  Once lifted, New Yealand Yams benefit from being left on a sunny windowsill for a couple of days before eating, as this makes them taste sweeter.  We’ll be keeping the smaller ones to replant next year, and can’t wait to start cooking with the others !

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Elsewhere on the allotment, we’ve just about finished emptying out the raised beds and covering them over snugly for the winter.  The Rhubarb, Asparagus and Globe Artichokes have also been cut back, mulched and protected with straw chippings.  Still happily growing for the later winter months are Sprouts, Leeks, Purple Spouting Broccoli and Jerusalem Artichokes.

This week Mr O has also planted two new Blackcurrant bushes, to add to our fruit crop, which has been so bountiful this year.  Later in the winter we’ll need to prune our Raspberry, Gooseberry, Blackberry bushes and Apple tree so that we hopefully get another good fruit crop next year.  Our newly expanded Strawberry bed will get a good mulch too.

One vegetable that won’t be making it into the kitchen this winter is our Pak Choi, which bolted this week.  Having these lovely surprise yellow ‘flowers’ in the bed made up for the loss though ! 🙂

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Growth Spurt

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Last weekend, the allotment glut started in earnest, with produce growing and over growing at an astounding rate.  On each visit to our plot, we came home with bowls full of veggies to eat, and we needed to be strategic in deciding what needed to be picked and eaten straight away, and what could wait for another day with no harm done.  Some of our crops have grown so quickly that we’ve missed the optimum window for picking them – within days Mange Tout quickly turn to Peas and Gherkins become Cucumber sized !

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With plenty of rain and sunshine this week, the weeds are growing quickly too and are a seemingly never ending task.  Some crops are ending – the Rhubarb is finished for this year and the Strawberry patch has been cut back to the new growth.  Half a dozen Strawberry runners have been pinned down into small pots of soil to grow roots and soon be cut from the ‘Mother’ plants to become new plants in their own right.

Time is moving on so quickly, and with the Brassicas growing and Blackberries fruiting it feels as though Autumn will be here before we know it !

First Harvest

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The time has come on our plot to really start harvesting and enjoying the efforts of all our hard work over the last few months.  We were so pleased this week to be able to harvest our first Broccoli, Dwarf French Beans, Asparagus Peas, Courgette, Cucumber, ripe red Gooseberries (to the delight of Mr G, for whom they were grown) French Garlic (very impressive) and Potatoes.  We’ve also been picking more Peas (half of which I have attempted to freeze for the first time – results to follow !) and lots of Lettuce.

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It’s so satisfying to come away from the allotment with bowls full of produce, and with so many greens on offer there really is no excuse not to eat (and enjoy eating) healthily.  With our first successes under our belts, we’ve also started thinking about the next phase, and have begun planting more seeds when beds become empty.  More Lettuce and French Bean seeds have gone into the ground, and we have also planted Borage in our flower bed.  We’ve also put some of the Pea pods that had dried out to one side, to hopefully utilise next year.  Onwards and upwards !

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