Monday, 11 August 2014

Bertha

We had planned to take the grand kids camping this weekend, but even putting this 'Hurricane Bertha' weather aside, all camp sites in the area were full. We initiated 'Plan B', which was basically to do all the planned activities of night walks, caving and kayaking, but sleep at home. The trouble is that we would have needed Celias car, as the van only has three seats, and her car chose this weekend to die. A rather unimpressive 'Plan C', of staying at home and walking down the allotment with them was finally quashed, when we both went down to give the crops a pre-grand kids watering. I went to pick some of our ripening blackberries, stepped on a piece of wood with a nail in it hidden in the long grass. It hurt, but not as much as my other foot, when, as I jumped in pain, I set it down with some considerable force on a duplicate hidden nail. Needless to say, the damage was done, both to my foot, and the weekend. We will have to re-schedule our little adventure weekend. As for the foot, it never ceases to amaze me how a puncture wound can look so pathetic, and yet hide such damage beneath. We managed to get to the beach, where I bathed it in the sea, before spending the next few hours sunbathing. The allotment is suffering from powdery mildew, and we did have to get something to treat it with, and so we made a stop off at Holme Farm Nursery on our way home.

Holme Farm Nursery

We found some Bordeaux Mixture, which, although it sounds fairly innocuous, maybe almost romantic, is in fact a combination of copper sulphate and slaked lime, but it should hopefully do the job. When we got home, I wasn't going to be going anywhere else. My foot was really throbbing in the evening, and so several 'Gary Martinis' (in vintage Salviati of course) were self prescribed, along with 'Monuments Men'.

'Gary Martini'

Once powdery mildew starts to set in, there really isn't anything else to do but 'don the combats'. Systemic herbicides are out, due to it being a foodstuff. Milk, well, haha...been there, done it, and don't even go there. Copper fungicide is our present weapon of choice. Memories from my days in the world of chemistry tend to leave me thinking 'crikey, no way', but the books say it's the stuff of nightmares for mildew on vegetables, so who am I to argue? I will be washing the produce a little vigorously though.

Mildew on our pumpkins 

The pumpkins have started to ripen really well, and there are about a half dozen or more, and so let's hope we can keep the leaves mildew free to complete the process.


There are other pests amongst our veg. What looks like mouse damage on our yellow courgettes, which is not too much to worry about, seeing as we have enough yellow specimens to provide tall ships with extra ballast.


Also, slugs and caterpillars chomping away at the Rainbow Chard. Not too much to worry about with that, as the chard is harvested every other day, and even leaves chewed at can be used.


The runner and black french beans are giving their all this year. We are looking for a third freezer, as these, along with all of the other stuff, are providing us with more than we had bargained for. Amanda can't quite reach the top beans, and so calls me over to help with the high stuff. We have a stove in the shed, and make fresh tea regularly to keep us going.


The blackberries that I was picking, when so rudely interrupted by a nail in the foot. We pick nearly all the ripe fruit, but make a point of leaving some for birds and mice etc. After all, we are not the only animals depending on the allotment.


The dutch lady, Ingrid, arrived mid blackberry pick. I don't know how she does it. Her husband is a classical violinist, and is unfortunately very ill. She looks after her plot single handed, and there is never a weed in sight, and always vegetables of some sort or another in abundance.


We had picked a lot, and yet more yellow courgettes, both long and globe varieties now. Other types of gourd, marrow, yellow beetroot, borlotti, french and runner beans, and a flower pot full of blackberries. It's hard to believe that it's only been three days since our last harvest, no wonder a third freezer is needed. All we now need is a bunker and a couple of AK47's, and we are set up for the next apocalypse!


We always pick the Chard leaves when we are down there. Very quickly blanched, they are then formed into individual portions that can be added to things like pasta, rice, or just cooked and eaten like spinach. It's an amazing vegetable. Very easy and quick to grow, it's also incredibly rich in the major vitamins, contains  oodles of oxalic acid, and is beautiful to look at as well. We are growing Rainbow Chard, which isn't a variety in itself, but a 'gathering' of red, yellow, pink, green and orange varieties. Just for Adrian at Adrians Images, this isn't a photo, but a chard leaf stuck in the HP photocopier. I've played around with all sorts of similar experiments.....great fun!


After cutting off the stems and freezing the leaves, the stems are then also blanched, and can be prepared and eaten in the same way as celery. It makes an amazingly colourful dish, and we are going to add ours from this year into a supply of 12" egg tarts made with some of the courgettes. These too will be frozen, and keep us going through the winter, along with various other combinations of stuff.


Hurricane Bertha came and went. We were led to believe by the weather 'powers that be' that the UK was about to meet it's doom for the next fortnight. This whole week had been predicted to be windy and wet, and yet I set out, and achieved, a complete days gardening at three of the big properties. In fact, I am now sat on our sofa writing this, with my lovely wife preparing a new dish from some of the days allotment pickings, and looking out onto a bright and beautiful evening sky.

One of our allotmenteers, Luke Stevenson, has started up a Facebook page, for other plot holders to use. He came to our rescue yesterday, by letting us know that during the strong winds our sweet corn had blown flat. We headed down at 5.30am, to discover that they had at least blown over at the roots, and not as I had dreaded folded at the stem. We staked them, unusual for sweet corn I know, but needs must and all that. Thanks Luke!!

Sweet Corn Before

Sweet Corn After (they had curved towards the light even during their few short hours semi prone)

So here we are now, 9.15 in the evening. We've just had a lovely veg meal, a little white wine is left, and Macy Gray is on CD. We saw her in concert a number of years back. Quite a woman.



Have a great week.

18 comments:

  1. Oh my gosh ~ one thing after another in such a short period. I sure hope your feet feel better soon. Puncture wounds are awful.

    I can't believe you got Bertha. Here she started right to the east of us and ended all the way up where you are on another continent.

    What a harvest and what a great story about Ingrid. I am sorry her husband is so ill. She's an inspiration to me.

    Great little video by Macy Gray. I like her soulful sound.

    Hope your week gets better ~ FlowerLady

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    1. Good morning Lorraine,
      Bertha didn't quite amount to as much as the weather men were telling us. We do often get the tail end of some of your horrific storms. Macy has got quite a unique voice and style hasn't she?

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  2. Sorry to hear about the foot - I should say the feet.
    Courgette, chard and garlic are plentiful here. We started picking tomatoes but the beans have not done much so far.
    I am glad Bertha did not cause much damage. It is rare storms are as bad as they forecast! Have a good week.

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    1. Hi Alain,
      The foot is still tender, but on the mend now at least. As far as tomatoes and beans go, we are the other war around to you.

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  3. WOW!! Sorry about your feet!! I hope you have had your tetanus vaccine and you have been putting antibiotic cream to the punctures!! I love how gorgeous the Swiss Chard is. .I have yet to have a real affinity for the taste. .my hubby does though, and it works well in the winter in the greenhouse too! Enjoy your week!

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    1. Hello Melanie,
      Yep, tetanus jabs up to date. I tend to injure myself quite often at work (much to Amandas frustration), and get a jab every time. Chard does have a slightly soupy taste when raw. Cooking it by either wilting in butter, throwing it in hot pasta, does make a big difference though.

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  4. Stepping on nails isn't funny. I hope you heal quickly
    You have a very lush garden and surprising to see what is ripe. You're much more advanced than we are.

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    1. It was painful Red, but then things in soles of feet always seem to be don't they? Here on the south coast of the UK, things are generally quite warm, so veg ripens quite well.

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  5. Oh My Goodness what a day !
    The nail in the foot (feet) sounds horrible I hope your tetanus shot is up to date ! plus being on the foot infection is veyt bad. But you being a gardener know this.
    I hope this week will be going better.

    cheers, parsnip
    opps just read Melanie's comment almost the same.

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    1. Good morning Parsnip,
      The nail did ruin my day I must say, but I do get used to things of a sudden and painful nature being a gardener.

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  6. Make sure your tetanus jabs are up to date.

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    1. All present and correct thanks Adrian.

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  7. I wish you lived closer
    Not only could I rummage through your glass collection
    You would have won most of the veg classes in the flower show

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    1. If you are ever in the area John, drop on by and have a rummage by all means. Thanks for the nice remarks about the veg.

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  8. Adrian read my mind - I was hoping you were up to date on your tetanus shots!

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    1. Yep, been jabbed on a regular basis.

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  9. Can't believe you stepped on two nails. Ouch. Hopefully, you can do the weekend with the grand kids as originally planned with no hurricane, etc. The garden produce is looking good.

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    1. Good morning Sherlock,
      I think we shall try with the grandkids again in September.

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