Sunday, 1 January 2012

New Year - new start!

I am admittedly a little shame-faced at the paucity of my blog posts in 2011. I started out well, with a great fervour, but then work commitments at home and abroad brought it all to a grinding halt. Sadly the lack of blogging was also elected in a lack time spent down on the Church Lane Plot. :-(

Hey ho - now is not a time to dwell on past mistakes I think, so onwards and upwards!

Having said all the above I didn't manage to get down to the allotment today, but shall do tomorrow - honest! I was however busy here on the Church Lane patch setting up a little hotel for one of my in-frequent visitors...

Having asked family and friends for a random and wide-ranging selection of gifts for Christmas, my Dad came up trumps with his gift - combining something I'd asked for along with a request for second hand or handmade innings whee possible ... he made me a Hedgehog Home! And here it is...

There are a number of commercially available designs that can be bought online, but he had taken things into his own hands, visited the British Hedgehog Preservation Society and built one to their design. I'm pleased he opted for the one he did, as it's the "recommended" design and is a sturdy, long-lasting house that should hopefully keep some lucky hedgehogs happy for years to come.

The BHPS suggests placing the house in a quiet part of the garden, against a wall or fence, and with the entrance of the hedgehog house facing other than North. I found an area at the end of the patch which seemed to fit the bill, and cleared away some leaves, weeds and the like to make space.

Again, following the advice of the BHPS, I covered the inside with some torn up newspaper and sawdust (as hedgehogs have soft feet!), covered with some old tarpaulin, and heaped up earth, leaves and sticks to give it a bit of camouflage. Now only time will tell whether some passing hedgehog - and I know we do get them - sees fit to take up residence in the future for a bit of a sleep.

I'll keep you posted!

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Back to school...

If you had asked me at school whether I would ever willingly CHOOSE to make cauliflower cheese, I would have given a resounding "NO!"

But I made my first ever dish of it tonight (how did I go so long not making it?) and it's delicious ... Even though I do say so myself!

I basically followed this recipe from the web, but it is fairly straightforward. And it was a bit of a bargain, as the cauliflower - still in perfect condition - had been reduced to 20p! Can't say fairer than that :-)

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Location:Church Lane Kitchen, Scredington, Lincolnshire

Tastes of Lincolnshire...

As I write, I am sitting in the cafe of The Hub partaking in a cheeky "coffee and a sit down"!

The afternoon has been made even nicer by virtue of the fact that the latest edition of "Good Taste" magazine has just been published, and there are plenty of copies around the cafe to pick up and have a browse through.

I have managed to receive every copy since the project started (published by Tastes of Lincolnshire) and it's always a joy to read and find out about all the "foody" related things going on in the county. It's also reassuring reading about the people and producers who are passionate about local, seasonal, organic food - a subject becoming more and more important to me. As it should perhaps be more important to lots of people, as Lincolnshire produces a vast percentage of the veg grown in the UK (e.g. Did you know that Lincolnshire produces 57% of all the cabbages in the UK, on just 2.6% of it's area!)

Now, I can't deny that I am always particularly drawn to the picture and recipes for glorious looking baked goods, cakes, ice-cream, local fruit & veg...I mean...who wouldn't be! But I do also take note of the articles on local growers and producers. This issue has an article on Rapeseed Oil (first grown in Lincolnshire as 'Coleseed' in the 13th century); one about trials growing more than 200 varieties of Tomato at Henrietta's Garden; an article on the ever-so-woolly 'Lincoln Longwool' sheep, one of 23 breeds on the 'at risk' list; and plenty of local news and events in the coming months.

OK. So, this has sounded like a bit of an "advert", but I imagine every county has something similar, and something that supports local business, local growers, and local consumers can only be a good thing.

Coffee finished now. And yes - I did have a slice of home-made cake too!

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Friday, 18 March 2011

Steaming piles of...


I am collecting a load later today from a kindly local Freecycler. (You gotta love FreeCycling!)

Obviously it'll mainly go in various places in the garden and on the plot and be left to rot down for next year's use. But I will be using some on the Plot (as the owner said that the pile has been building up for years...good, wholesome stuff it sounds) in some of the beds. With care of course!

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Fairweather Gardener (If but it were...)

OK. I admit it. I am just a fair-weather gardener / allotmenteer deep down.

It isn't that I lack commitment, or that I don't mean well... it's just that when it is cold, wet, grey and miserable, there seem to be so many other things on the "To Do" list - admittedly things that are indoors - that are more attractive.

I will use my time productively though. I am going to sort out the Pantry in the Church Lane Kitchen, to ensure I am sorted and ready for all the various goodies that will get created from the produce of the Plot & the Garden (if I ever get out there and actually grow stuff!) I may even be brave enough to post a before & after shot later...we'll see.

But despite the weather, the seedlings on the windowsill seem happy enough - more peas have pushed their way through the surface, joining a couple more Kale seedlings and now I have Broccoli coming up too. Hurrah!

Tuesday, 15 March 2011


I was rather excited yesterday morning to notice that the seeds I sowed last week are making their first tentative steps of growth.

This is the first of the peas ("Telephone") that I have sown. Actually there are 2, so it's a good start. I grew this variety the first year I had my garden and seemed to get a good crop, so these are "saved seeds" from a previous year. I love the thought of being able to supply your own seeds from things growing in your vegetable plot. Something for free can't be bad! I grew these babies up 6' canes, and they happily went all the way yo the top. I may investigate some 'pinching out' of the tips this time to keep them in check. I will be asking for guidance on that in the coming months!

Also, the Peas were accompanied by a showing from the Kale ("Scarlet") in the next seed tray. So as long as the remainder of the crops continue in this vein, I will be more than happy!

I spent a productive few hours down on the Plot, and started to get to grips with weeding one of the beds - which will hopefully contain (amongst other things no doubt!) Broad Beans, Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts, with some Marigolds and Foxgloves possibly thrown in for good measure. The planting combination along with the floral component, comes from ideas gleaned from Andrew Sankey's Companion Planting book that I mentioned before. If I get it right (!) then the plants should either work to support the growth of eachother or go some way to putting off the pests. We shall see - I have every faith in it!

In the bed that I managed to get weeded (well... to some degree...) I put in the first batch of First Early Potatoes ("Home Guard") - which will soon be followed by their Maincrop cousins. ("Cara"). These were actually the first things that I have actively planted down in The Church Lane Plot, so it was quite momentous really! In digging over the bed I clearly disturbed a current inhabitant - this gorgeous Bumble Bee. Although I was a bit shocked by the frantic 'buzzing', I don't think I had the wee chap, so I moved him over to a slightly more secluded bit of earth to go about his business. Back in the Garden, I also potted up a few of the "Home Guard" seed potatoes in a growing bag to see how they get on. And was even left with a bit of time to sit out in the garden in the (reasonably) warm setting sun. Who could ask for anything better than that to end the day!

Monday, 14 March 2011

Sowing the seeds...

As I intended one of the functions of this Blog to be a "diary" to accurately record sowing, planting and harvesting times for my various crops - I'd better get on with it as I have started the process!

And as I have managed to find a few quiet minutes sitting outside in the slowly setting sun, what better use of my time :-)

Here is the current list of seeds that I have sown in propagators (I use the term advisedly!) on the windowsill, ready for planting out further down the line on the Plot. They were all sown on the 7th March 2011... for future reference.

OH - and I have some 1st Early potatoes that I've planted into a growing 'sack' outside, to see what happens. They are "Home Guard" for this year. As it's my first year of growing any great volume of Potatoes, I have no experience of this variety - so it will be a voyage of discovery! I'll be putting the rest down on the Plot along with the maincrop "Cara" which I have chitting happily indoors. They'll be in this week I think...