Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to you all! I spent a few days with my family in Dorset which was lovely, and also noticeably warmer than round here. After almost too much turkey and definitely far too much bad Christmas TV I am back home and weather watching. That's right I once again have some time off work so of course it is cold and wet to keep me away from the allotment.

I'm starting to feel guilty that I still haven't cleared the pumpkin plants, cut back the asparagus, or the raspberries and there is far too much digging needing to be done before the planting begins. Tomorrow looks bright so hopefully I can make some progress but in the meantime I have turned my attention to seed buying. Last year I made the mistake of just buying all my seeds in November and then struggling to remember when they were meant to be sowed and harvested so this year I am being super organised and have a spreadsheet to record all the important details, including number of seeds so I can order the right number of packets.

I'm going to be buying the majority of my seeds from Real Seeds, a company set up to supply seeds for Kitchen Gardeners, hopefully this will lead to some very reliable and tasty varieties, best of all they are all true seeds so you can save them for the next year. I have already been convinced by their impressive Kale selection and am going to risk some outdoor aubergines along with some new winter squash varieties and the usual carrots, parsnips and brassicas.

On the one hand it is very exciting to anticipate all the wonderful things which will grow this year but on the other spring is always a mad rush of sowing and planting, hopefully I'll manage to get a coldframe sorted out before the rush otherwise I think I will have a ridiculous number of pots in the kitchen. How are you getting on with your planning? Anyone trying any new varieties this year?

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Making the most of the winter

At this time of year there isn't much to convince me to go to the allotment, obviously there is still plenty that needs to be done but without the pressures of planting and picking I find it easy to let the horrible weather keep me indoors. So without the allotment to keep me busy I have started to do a bit more cooking, now is a great time to experiment with new recipes and foods because any you find you love can be added to next year's growing list.

A few weeks ago I made this recipe with my borlotti beans some tomatoes and a few other bits from the allotment and it was amazing. So if you're not sure whether to add Borlotti beans to next year's planting list buy a few and try this recipe. I think you'll make up your mind.

My celeriac has been a total disaster this year, only 8 survived long enough to be planted out and all but one died over the summer before the final one scorched to death in September so I am celeriac free this winter. Only I'm not because I love it too much to go without, so they have had to be added to the shopping list and I can continue to eat the lovely smashed celeriac. Hopefully next year I'll have more success in the homegrow area.

Next year I am planning to experiment with some new squash types and increase the variety of beans that I grow too so I'll be putting these cold wet months to good use to find some winning recipes. Which foods are you planning to add to the list next year?