Saturday, 6 December 2008

So what have I learned?

I expect this will probably be my last post for 2008 as I really don't intend visiting the plopment much more this winter, once every 1-2 weeks is likely, so there won't be anything truly scintillating to tell you until next year, so I'll use this post as a roundup of what I've achieved this year and what I intend to do differently next year.

So, to start, the weather today is absolutely gorgeous - crystal clear heartbreakingly blue skies overhead, the slight smell of woodsmoke, cold enough to see your breath but not freezingly so - and what did we decide to do? That's right, along with most of the population of southern England, we went christmas shopping in Guildford. We were expecting it to be hell-on-wheels but, you know what, it wasn't. Can't really put my finger on why exactly. We decided to get into town early, as close to 9am as possible, even then expecting to see queues of cars trying to get into Sainsbury's car park but we more or less swooped in AND managed to park in The Husband's favourite area of the car park easily. We then gaily threw the diet to the wind and started off with coffee and warm chocolate croissants, enabling me to leave The Husband with a newspaper while I pottered around some nearby shops. 'This is all going far too easily' I thought, 'something's bound to go awry' but, today, Our Shopping Game Was Strong. Ninja warriors had nothing on us this morning - we were in and out of Marks & Spencer, TopShop, House of Fraser, Game and (less excitingly) Sainsburys as fast as a fat kid going for the last sandwich at a birthday party. We were done and home in under 2.5 hours. The rest can all be done online. Hooray!!!

Rather excitingly, I picked up my christmas present that my parents-in-law are going to give me yesterday. You might think that it would be pink, possibly fluffy, most definitely sparkly and you would be wrong. Girl's done got herself a Stihl FS38 Brushcutter! And, look, I even just found a picture of a girly using one (although that's not to say it isn't a desperately manly piece of kit - in case you've got one and you're a bloke and you feel I've just slurred your inherent butchness and manliness...) I think the picture's just to show that it's light and so simple to use that even (*snort*) a woman could do it! Still it made a VERY exciting sound when we fired it up at the store and I suspect I'll have to wrench it out of The Husband's hands if I want to use it myself - he had that definite gleam of "ooh, toy!" in his eye. It's a petrol-driven 2-stroke strimmer that I need to keep the edges and paths of the plopment under control. A cordless electric one just doesn't have enough oomph to be able to deal with allotment strimming so even though it's an expensive item, I had to have one. Thanks in advance, Desmond and Minnie.

So I went down to the plopment today, then, just to check that everything was still where I left it and to take some final pictures for the 2008 blog.

About 2 weeks ago (and I forgot to take pictures), my fruit tree and bushes arrived so The Husband and I spent a couple of hours planting them while the ground was still warm. There was:

1 x Raspberry Autumn Bliss - 5 Canes
1 x Cherry Maynard - 2 Year Bush BARE ROOT
1 x Blueberry Patriot - 1 Litre Container
1 x Raspberry Glen Prosen - 5 Canes
1 x Strawberry Aromel Runners (10 plants)
3 x Blackcurrants Wellington XXX
2 x Gooseberry Langley Grange

I also moved the Raspberries that I'd planted out back in May this year as they were now in the wrong place, so I put them with the others.

First, then, I put all the Raspberries and Blackcurrants in two rows. They may be too close together but I'll have to deal with that next year. The Husband has said he'd construct some posts and wire next spring to tie the new growth to.

The cherry tree is a new self fertile dwarf dessert sweet cherry which should not reach any taller than 2 metres in height and requires no pruning. Strictly speaking it's a patio plant and is probably intended to be kept in a pot, but I'm not allowed to grow 'proper' trees at the site so dwarf varieties are the way to go. Picking is in early July so we'll see (a) if it works and (b) if I can get to the cherries before the birds.

The strawberries have now all gone in and don't really look like much in the ground so I've not bothered taking a picture of them. The three different varieties of blueberry are now planted in a row so fingers crossed they'll also work. The gooseberry bushes arrived a little late to plant in the allotment due to the recent very cold weather so I've put them in a large pot in a sunny sheltered place on my patio and they can stay there until next March.

As for everything else, my overwintering onions are doing fabulously - looks like there should be a good crop to come up before I put in the next lot in spring.

All the brassicas are thriving still, the sprouts and purple sprouting broccoli are still producing and the Savoy Cabbages are doing their thang - hopefully we'll have one (plus sprouts) for Christmas Dinner.

I'm also still harvesting Chard and I just love the effect of the sunlight shining through the Ruby Red Chard leaves.

Oh, and I've forgotten to tell you that the allotment site will be having communal chickens for the first time! The site secretary announced in the summer that the site was going to become part of the Community Chicken Project depending on how many people were willing to get involved. The Husband and I seriously thought about it for a very long time - I would so love to keep chickens - but doing anything by committee, with rotas for this and that, never works out. I mean, whose responsibility is it to take the chucks to the vet if/when they become ill? What happens if someone forgets to put them to bed at night and the foxes (and we have a lot of foxes) get them? What happens when they come to the end of their laying life? Does anyone get to eat them? There are just far too many potential problems with far too many people involved so, rather sadly, we decided joining in wasn't an option for us. I'd much rather have my own chickens with no-one else being involved. However this hasn't stopped me being rather excited by their eventual arrival and, to this end, a rather magnificent Chicken Palace is currently being constructed on site! I don't know how many hens are going to be installed but their run and henhouse is taking up the whole of a vacant half plot - you can see how big it's going to be in the picture - the framing will obviously eventually be covered with fox-proof wire/netting/whatever.

So - what have I learned?

Growing vegetables is not that difficult but there are different levels of work needed at different times of the year. Obviously I started the plot this year in February and it was just totally grassed over. Clearing the ground of the ordinary grass, the couch grass, the mare's tail and all the other weeds took a huge amount of hard, dirty, heavy work but I always knew that I would really only have to do this once; after that it's just maintenance, weeding and adding/digging in compost/manure as and when necessary. The first year is hard and more expensive than you can imagine unless you have the time to shop around and get second hand stuff like sheds and greenhouses and manure corrals, etc. I just wanted to get on with it but, as with the clearance, I knew I was only going to fork out ('fork out'! Geddit? Oh, please yourself....) once for all this stuff. The shed has been absolutely vital, not just for somewhere to put tools, etc., but also somewhere to shelter from the rain and to dry out onions too.

What vegetables worked this year?

All the brassicas were a revelation and so easy to grow - they'll definitely be coming back. The lettuce was very successful but I must do more successional sowing. 20 or so Cobra French Bean plants gave me a yield of over 40lbs that I ended up giving away. The Rainbow Chard has been an eye-opener. Potatoes have been very successful as have the onions and the sweetcorn. Broad beans, despite getting blackfly, grew well and The Husband loves them anyway. Basil and Coriander grew like weeds and I'll try drying them next time. Telegraph variety of cucumbers loved the outdoors weather this summer (although they're mostly a greenhouse type) and were juicy and crunchy. These I will all grow again next year.

What was less successful?

Tomatoes were hopeless - all succumbed to blight. Carrots, although extremely flavourful, grew so many extra limbs that preparation took forever. They also got hit by Carrot Fly. However I will try again next year with them as the flavour was so good, but they only get ONE MORE CHANCE. Parsnips had woody centres and, again, resembled octopuses. Sweet red peppers didn't do as well as I had hoped and probably need a greenhouse to be successful. These I will probably (bar the carrots) not grow again next year.

What would I do differently?

Not that much, in hindsight. Obviously there'll be some crop rotation next year and I think I'll grow the climbing French Beans up 3 or 4 teepees of canes dotted around the place rather than in a long line - the winds wreaked havoc with them this year. I'd very much like to save up my pennies next year and get a 6'x8' greenhouse and perhaps try again with the tomatoes in there, plus chillis and red peppers, but we'll have to see. That can always wait again for another time.
Whether I do potatoes again is a question I've not decided yet. Yes, they were very tasty and easy to grow but they do take up quite a lot of room. However, since S gave up the top half of the plopment and I took it over, space isn't quite so much of an issue. Dunno, I'll have to decide later. Also quite how the new fruit area will turn out is another unknown factor. But you'll have to come back next year to read what happens there!

Well, then, many thanks to those who've vicariously travelled with me along this path of discovery - here's to next year!

Happy Winter Solstice and New Year to you all!!!

Sunday, 16 November 2008

November? Or July?

This weather is seriously messed up. It's the middle of November and I've turned my central heating off! It was over 15 degrees Centigrade outside here yesterday (for those who work on old money or live in the colonies, that's about 60 degrees Fahrenheit), and warm enough inside to have the windows open. We've got buds forming on the Beech tree outside our house before it's even lost all its leaves! It's Madness, I tell you....

Ancient Gardening Wisdom says that you can still plant new stuff into the ground in November because the soil is still just about warm enough for a decent root system to form before the cold really settles in - no kidding?!? This year I could probably plant pineapples outside right now and they'd take! Okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration but I'm taking the opportunity anyway to transfer all the rooted strawberry runners that I took off my tubbed-up strawberry plants this summer into the new fruit garden bit up at the allotment. There are 42 plants to go in (so far I've done 21) plus I've got another 10 or so plants of a different variety to be delivered at some point. The picture shows the ones I've put in. They're a bit measly at the moment but I'm hoping they'll fill out next summer.

Actually, thinking about it, I've got quite a lot of fruit bushes and plants on order - I wonder when they'll be delivered? I might have to drop the nurseries an email to find out....

So, as you can see, I popped down to the allotment yesterday just to see what's going on, harvest some sprouts, pick off yet more cabbage white caterpillers (cheeky buggers got one last egg laying session done without me noticing), dig up some more comedy carrots, hoe the onion patch and plant the remaining strawberry runners. Well, I managed everything except planting the runners but I'll do that either today or tomorrow. Time was a bit short yesterday because it was my nephew Riley's 3rd birthday party in the afternoon that we were attending, and I'm a sucker for birthday party catering!

Anyway, just to keep you posted, here's the current sorry state of my allotment (they always look unattractive from now until late spring).

The Savoy Cabbages are coming along a treat! Forming nice hearts albeit a little small just now, I'm sure they'll be scrummy! You can also just see the Kale in this pic as well (top left hand corner) - we've eaten a lot of it but I suspect they're coming to the end of their lives. I must find out if I can pick and freeze Kale in order to store the last of it....

The 200 onion sets that I planted a few weeks ago are growing away merrily - there's a mix of white and red onions, plus quite a lot of garlic too and, thankfully, the birds have left it all alone, which is a relief as I didn't fancy having to replant that lot!

The leeks are coming along although the size is not consistent and they're looking a bit fleabitten but I'm reasonably pleased considering I've never grown them before and they do seem to be a bit temperamental. Fortunately I can't see any signs of rust, so I'm hoping they'll fatten up a bit more before I want to start eating them.

Finally I just wanted to apologise to Paula from Locks Farm for not posting her comments - for some reason I didn't get notification in my email that you'd sent them so only saw them when I logged in today. They've now been posted!

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Chard and Onion Tart

Swiss/Rainbow Chard is one of those vegetables that you often see growing on allotments. It looks a little like rhubarb and is a useful winter vegetable. (The picture isn't from my allotment I'm sorry to say but mine does look a little bit like this! Picture courtesy of Hollis Gardens)

I'd never seen it sold in any supermarkets so had absolutely no idea what it tasted like. At worst, it could taste like celery which, frankly, is The Devil's Vegetable and best avoided, but hopefully it would be nicer than that. I did some online research and spoke to a few people and the consensus was 'strong spinachy flavour', so I thought, "What the heck, I'll have a go".

It's a very rewarding vegetable to grow, just stick the seed in the ground and away it goes and slugs don't seem to like it very much, which is all to the good! So now, as ever, I need to find a use for it. Off I go again to the same Greenbox Company website where I found my Homity Pie recipe mentioned in an earlier post, and they have a whole bunch of recipes for Chard.

I made this recipe below last week and thought it was just so fabulous that I'd share it with you, but with more pictures than last time, so you can see how to do each stage, and just how easy it is!!! Apologies in advance to any American readers but the quantities are in metric, however there are easy-to-find-online conversion tables available, so here we go. Some of the pics have been taken using flash, some not.

Chard and Onion Tart
Serves 2 (large portions)

3 small onions, finely sliced
A decent handful of Chard leaves
6oz shortcrust pastry (half wholemeal, half plain flour is good)
Small pot Creme Fraiche/Sour Cream
Grated fresh Parmesan
Black olives
1-2 tbsp fresh chopped Thyme or decent sprinkling dried Mixed herbs
Salt & Pepper

Preheat oven to 200C/Gas Mark 4

Make your pastry:
The maxim to remember when making shortcrust pastry is 'half fat to flour', i.e., 6 oz flour = 3 oz butter. And I've generally found that the size of the tin you're going to use dictates how much pastry to make - "well, dur..." I hear you cry, but if you have a 6 inch diameter tin, 6 oz of pastry will fit, 7 inches = 7 oz, and so on.

I like half wholemeal half plain flour pastry, and I'm using a 6 inch fluted loose-bottomed flan tin. So, in a big bowl, weigh in 3 oz wholemeal flour, 3 oz plain flour (don't bother sifting) and add 3 oz butter.

Mix it together with your fingers, rubbing the butter through the flour with your fingertips so that it eventually resembles breadcrumbs. This can take a little while but is necessary.

Next add a very small amount of water (it's easier to add water if you've not used enough, but you can't really add more flour if you've used too much because then the fat ratio won't be enough) and, again, using your hands, mix it up until it's a dough that leaves the sides of the bowl pretty clean.

Take your flan tin and using a piece of kitchen roll, grease the tin thoroughly. Next, add the pastry to the tin. The thing about wholemeal pastry is that it's incredibly difficult to roll (unlike plain white pastry), so the easiest thing to do is just take little bits and mould it into the tin, pushing it down so it's not too thick. Again, this takes a little time but is very easy to do as the bits of pastry mush into each other very easily without leaving a join. (I know the picture's at a funny angle but I was trying not to get my shadow in it!)

Prick the base with a fork then stick the tin in the oven for about 20 mins so that it can cook through first. This means that you shouldn't get a soggy bottom (and we all know how uncomfortable that can be...) when it gets baked for the second time with the rest of the ingredients in. This is known as 'baking blind'. The sainted Delia Smith recommends also brushing the base of the flan with beaten egg to form a seal - this does work but it's a bit of a faff and isn't really necessary with this recipe. The picture shows the pastry case before being baked.

So, while that's in the oven, you need to prepare your vegetables.

Peel, halve and then very finely slice the onions. In a largish pan (I use a flat-bottomed wok), melt some butter, add the onions and the thyme/dried mixed herbs. Cook this over a low heat so that the onions don't brown and they sweeten up.

Fill a largish saucepan with water and set it to boil. Wash your chard, the separate the fleshy leaves from the stalk by tearing them off. Chop the stalks into smallish pieces, then roughly chop the leaves. These are the chard leaves I used which, yes, I did grow myself, thank you for asking!

And these are the stalks once the leaves have been removed.

In this picture, the stalks have been chopped up (top right of chopping board) and the leaves are in the process of being chopped up.

When the pan of water is boiling, drop in the chopped stalks and boil them for a couple of minutes - this is because they're thicker than the leaves and need cooking first. Then drop in the rest of the chopped leaves and boil for no more than a minute. This is known as 'blanching'.

Drain the chard into a sieve or colander, run cold water over them to stop the cooking, then squeeze as much water out as you can. I use the back of a wooden spoon. You don't want the mixture to be very wet when it goes into the pastry case.

Then add the cooked chard into the onion & herb mixture in the large pan/wok. You may find that the chard has sort of clumped together into lumps, so now's the time to separate it out to get a more cohesive mix. Heat it all together thoroughly and season with a little salt (you shouldn't need much, the parmesan is salty and I use Lurpak Slightly Salted Spreadable Butter in my pastry, but it's up to you) and freshly ground black pepper.

By now the pastry case should have cooked so spread the chard & onion mixture onto the pastry and push down a little bit to make sure it gets into all the edges.

Add the chopped black olives - I used Black Greek Kalamata Olives from a jar but you can use what you like.

Grate fresh Parmesan over the top. Please, people, don't use the ready-grated stuff that smells like socks - treat yourself to a small piece of the real stuff, it's nutty and sweet and just delicious! You can also add it to any recipe that calls for grated cheese as it's so flavourful.

Now you add your creme fraiche/sour cream. The recipe I used actually says, "a few spoonfuls" but I had half a tub to use up so I did go a bit menkle with it. You might even want to cover the entire top which would, frankly, be fabulous if a little rich (although you could use the half fat stuff instead...). Just drop some spoonfuls on and spread it around a bit.

Then put it back in the oven (I'd put it on a baking sheet/tray as well, just in case there's any leakage although, if the mixture's not too wet, this shouldn't happen, but better safe than sorry...) and leave it there for 15 to 20 mins or so. This will basically just heat it through and melt the parmesan, and it looks like this when taken out.

I serve this with a very simple salad of just lettuce, cucumber and tomatoes but it would go brilliantly with a cold rice or pasta salad, or something fruity with couscous. The flavours are fantastic - the chard definitely tastes like spinach but it doesn't shrivel down to the nothing when you cook it and also doesn't leave that weird furry after-effect on your teeth like spinach does. The olives give a deep tang, the onion and herb mix is sweetly oniony and, err, herby(!) and the parmesan makes it all cheesy. The creme fraiche/sour cream cuts through the lot, and if you serve this with lettuce you won't need any mayonnaise!


Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Aww, shucks.......

It's always good to know that someone out there in the real world enjoys reading what you write and I got up this morning to discover that I'd been 'proximaded' by a woman who blogs under the name of PreTzel in Iowa, USA!

Basically the translation more or less says, "This blog invests and believes, the proximity. [meaning, that blogging makes us 'close' -being close through proxy]. They all are charmed with the blogs, where in the majority of its aims are to show the marvels and to do friendship; there are persons who are not interested when we give them a prize, and then they help to cut these bows; do we want that they are cut, or that they propagate? Then let’s try to give more attention to them! So with this prize we must deliver it to 8 bloggers that in turn must make the same thing and put this text.” Isn't that great? Okay, it's just a bit of fun really and gets passed on to other bloggers (a bit like - but more fun than - one of those round robin letters - 'send this letter on within 48 hours or your central heating will start to smell of fish', you know, that sort of thing) but it's nice to be even a little bit appreciated. So thank you very much, PreTzel.

Trouble is, I don't read eight other bloggers (at least not yet) but I'll pass on the award to those that I do read:

First of all, Ali the Frog's Blog - we first met up at and have since got chatting offline. Ali's always very interesting to read and people come from miles around to admire her scarecrows!

Then there's Omegamom - K and I met first many years ago on another (now defunct) forum called ONNA, and then we actually met face to face in 1999 when The Husband, The Mother and The Stepfather and I went on holiday to Arizona where K happened to live at the time. She's now in Alaska and is a frighteningly smart lady living in a breathtaking landscape. You want to know about American politics and especially about the American view of all the financial shenanigans? She's your gal! Plus she adopted a baby girl from China several years ago so if that tickles your fancy, head on over! And she has chickens! I'll stop using exclamation marks now....

Stringbean Cheryl's blog deserves a mention, although it needs updating more frequently!!!!! (Okay, I lied about the exclamation marks...)

Finally there's one I've just started reading - Locks Park Farm, stories from a small organic farm in Devon. Just check out the photographs *sigh*. This is the life I would like to lead (apart from the slaughter of the farm animals - I don't think I could do that) - perhaps in my next lifetime...

Anyway, that's it for now, I'm off out to sow Aquadulce Broad Beans because the weather is just beautiful right now so I'll leave you with some pictures other than from the allotment for a change:

This is the view of my back garden as it current is - yes, I'm aware there's a small plastic greenhouse right in the middle of the picture, 'mkay?

This was taken last week when I was out riding in the stunning countryside near Dorking, Surrey. I ride out from the Sariah Arabians stables and there are over 6000 acres of forestry commission land surrounding Leith Hill Tower that are threaded through with hundreds of miles of bridlepaths and footpaths and it's a gorgeous place to ride. That's not me, by the way (obviously I'm taking the picture), that's my good friend Annie riding a lovely Anglo-Arab mare called Shalom - you can see the temperature's dropping because you can see Shalom's breath in the picture.

This was also taken, from horseback, last week. We were under the trees where it was dark but there was a gap where we could see the sun shining on the leaves of the beech tree making them golden and orange, with the stunning blue sky behind, and I just had to take the picture!

And, finally, putting on my archaeologist's hat again, a couple of weeks ago The Husband and I decided to have a pootle down to the South Coast for the day and I suggested we visited The Trundle on the way. The Trundle is a Neolithic Causewayed Enclosure that has a Bronze Age burial mound on the top and Iron Age Hillfort earthworks surrounding it, so there's been activity there for thousands of years. It's directly opposite Goodwood Racecourse and the views are indescribably beautiful. This was taken from the top of the hill (you can just see the earthworks cutting through the very bottom left hand corner of the photo), facing (sort of) north west. Don't forget you can click on every picture in this and all previous posts to make them bigger, and I'd recommend it in this picture, which I'm currently using as a screensaver. It's a perfect example of timeless English countryside.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Homity Pie!

When I was working at the University of Surrey in the last century, I used to really enjoy the meals provided by the vegetarian restaurant. They were very influenced by 'Cranks', a famous vegetarian/wholefood restaurant chain which, more or less, closed down sometime in the 90s (I believe one restaurant is left in the West Country) but they produced some great recipe books. Anyway, I believe the Homity Pie that I used to love at the University is a Cranks recipe and, due to the glut of potatoes I've had from my allotment, I decided to have a go at making it, and this is the result - big success!

Obviously it was a whole pie before I took the picture but it was only after we'd eaten half of it that I wondered if anyone else would be interested in seeing it, and so my rampant egotism took over and demanded that I take a couple of pictures!

Here's the recipe, courtesy of

homity pie

1 batch of half wholemeal pastry

2 lbs new potatoes, washed.

2 large onions, halved and sliced

1 wet garlic, chopped

140ml pot of soured cream

2 tbsp of butter

lots of grated cheddar cheese - about 6 oz

Cut the potatoes into cubes and cook in salted water until only just cooked. Drain and set aside. Roll out the pastry and line a greased flan dish, I use an 8" one that is fairly deep. Blind bake in the oven at 160C whilst dealing with the onions. Cook the onions and garlic in the butter gently for about 10 minutes. Now mix the onion, garlic and butter mixture with the potatoes. Then add the soured cream and most of the cheese (leaving some for the top). Pack into the pastry case and then sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

Cook at 160C until browned (30 minutes or so)

It's really simplicity itself and unbelievably yummy! I'd be tempted to cut the potatoes into really quite small cubes, think perhaps slightly larger than dice cubes. This made enough for four substantial meals, which we ate with coleslaw and Moroccan Couscous salad. I should warn you that it's very 'ballasty' though - wholemeal pastry (even if it's only half wholemeal flour) is very dense so the thinner you can get the pastry the better. Don't bother to roll the pastry out because it just falls apart, just grab a handful and push and mould it into the flan tin.


Monday, 13 October 2008

My first ever home-grown cabbage

Check it out - my first ever home-grown cabbage! I can't quite believe that I grew this from seed, and now we're going to eat it!! I'm planning on making Homity Pie tonight with coleslaw and salady stuff, and this red cabbage will go into the coleslaw.

And then I cut it open - I was expecting, oh, I dunno, wormy holes, small maggots, a completely hollow centre, anything other than what I got which was, quite frankly, breathtakingly perfect. The inside of a red cabbage is nothing short of beautiful - the colours, the wavy design, the fact that it's just so tightly packed. I had to rush off with the two halves in my hands to show The Husband what I'd found and to boast that I'd grown this fantastic thing from a single, tiny seed! I was thrilled that he found it just as gobsmacking as I did, and wasn't just saying something nice to please me. Honestly, sometimes the fact that I can eat what I've grown just blows me away! And it chuffs me up no end when I show people my tights-in-the-garage-full-of-onions or my potatoes in their storage bags and they say, "wow, looks just like what you'd buy in a shop!" and that's just it - we all forget that we can grow the stuff that we buy in the supermarket and it'll taste better, be fresher and, quite often, look exactly the same. Ooh, I'm feeling quite evangelical now - or it might just be the 4 glasses of good red wine I've drunk this evening...

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Pictures, as promised

Further to yesterday's post, and as it is SUCH a beautiful day today, I dragged The Husband away from his comfy chair to come and take some photos at the plopment, so here they be (you can click on each picture to make it larger - and I apologise for the fact that I can't work out how to reduce the gap on the page between each section of pic & text...):

This is the existing brassica bed to which I've just added a few more red cabbage, spring cabbage and a dozen sprouting broccoli seedlings. They've been in a couple of days now and the pigeons haven't discovered them yet, so I'm hopeful that I won't need to put up netting.

This is the carrot bed. There are about 100 carrots in there. With a bit of luck I might actually get some that are proper carrot shaped rather than something that would amuse Esther Rantzen...

This is how the Dwarf Curly Kale is currently looking - lush and green, I think you'll agree!

These are my Brussel Sprouts - I really am quite inordinately proud of just how well my brassicas have done, never having grown any of them before. Perhaps they just really like the soil and the conditions are right for them....

This is how the herb bed is looking. As I said in yesterday's posting, the Coriander and French Sorrel have both gone beserk. The Coriander plant turned into a bush that had to be staked and even then still fell over - it goes all the way out to the right hand edge of the picture. Underneath it is the French Sorrel which has also gone a bit mental. [You'll notice I've discovered how to label things on the pictures - classy, huh?]

This is where I've planted up the 200 onion sets and garlic cloves. Not very clear I know, but you can just make out at least one of the 3.5 rows. The birds had only pulled one of the garlic cloves out, which I was relieved about as I didn't relish having to replant them all again - the backs of my legs are still stiff from planting them the first time!

This is where the fruit is going to be planted, when all the bushes, etc., arrive. Two blueberry bushes are already in but they're hard to make out in the picture. I need to get more black plastic to cover the rest of the ground....

So then, a shot of the bottom half of the plopment, taken from beside the future fruit bed.

And a view taken the other way, from the shed looking up the plopment.

And finally, an action shot of me! Taken by The Husband pretending to be a papparazzo hiding behind the raspberry canes!