FYI

Clicking on any of the pictures will open them at full size in the browser window, which means you will have to use the 'back' button to return to the main pages, whereas clicking to the left or right of any picture will open them in a new window, if you fancy a closer look at any of the piccies we've posted! We've included a Google Earth satelite picture of our plots and this years planting plan at the bottom of the page, next to each other. If you choose the Earth view on the satelite image you can rotate the image until it is lined up with the planting plan, then use the arrows in the plan to scroll from Plot 2 to Plot 1.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Hedgehogs, Gardeners Presentation Evening, Homebrew and lots of seeds!

 Finally, a few days off and the weather has been good! Apologies for the recent dearth of posting to the blog, but as any who have an allotment or veg patch will agree, this time of year is about harvesting and then dealing with all the produce to ensure you maximise its usefulness! Rest assured, we've not been idle, far from it, the harvests are coming in aplenty, the bees are producing plenty of honey (that also has to be sorted out, extracted, filtered, settled and jarred)! On top of that we've also had the Trafford Gardeners Presentation Evening to prepare for (the site had to put in a tray of fruit and veg and set it up, which Pat, Sarah and I did yesterday), plus next years seeds to get (in the Wyevale 50p seed sale of course), onion sets to procure, homebrew wine to get started and of course work too!

I'm actually on holiday this week (although had to spend Monday afternoon in a Training Coordinators Meeting wth the other cluster training coordinators from the area, and had a Managers Meeting to attend on Tuesday), so a chance to do a bit of shopping and get some stuff sorted!

 Monday morning before my afternnon meeting we decided that as the Wyevales 50p seed sale had just started that we needed to go and stock up on those seeds that we'd run out, in order that we kept our spending to a minimum and maximised our seed choices! A happy hour or two was spent sat in deckchairs going through the sale buckets........... although I didnt expect to spend quite so much! £59.50 later we left with 119 packets of seeds! Other shoppers were looking at our trolley in amazement, though I cant personally see why! If they had 2 allotments, and anted to maintain a good spread of varieties of each type of crop, then the more types of seed that you have, the more safeguarded you are against any particular crop having a failure!

We recently decided )after sampling some of Dave's homebrew Rhubarb wine (at the plot BBQ) and having been to a talk at the Stockport BBKA about making your own mead), that perhaps it would be a good idea to start making our own homebrew again. We've both done it in the past, but hadnt done it for years, so after being given the inclination we decided that now was the time! So, after Wyevales we popped out to the Homebrew shop in Stockport, a few bits n bobs to procure to enable us to start making homebrew again, although we'd already got demijohns and had recently got hold of 3 x 5gallon brewing containers (from freecycle), we were lacking some of the bungs, corks, air locks and other sundries, so a quick trip down there sorted most of our needs! Along with everything we needed we also decided to start off with a homebrew Elderflower Wine kit, as for a first batch it would be good if we had at least a good chance of making something nice, so that was duly started yesterday!

Its bubbling away nicely now (and before you say anything, the kit wine does say to leave as it is for 3 days before you top it up to a full gallon, so I'll be topping it up as per instructions on Satrday)! We also bought some dried elderflowers, so we can get a batch of homemade (rather than kit) elderflower wine on the go too, then we can compare the 2 and see what we prefer! I'm also going to try and harvest some Elderberries over the next few days, so we can get a bacth of that on the go, and then once we've extracted the uncapped honey from the wax trimmings from the apiaries we should have enough honey for us to make 5 gallons of mead!

This must make us sound like raging alcofrolics, which we definitely arent, but if we make something thats drinkable, then not only will it help us save money, but also will let us use any surplus crops and perhaps give us something that we can share with friends and family!

So, as yesterday (Wednesday) was the date for the Trafford Gardeners Presentation Evening, Pat, Sarah and I  agreed to meet up at the plot at lunchtime to harvest some produce for the show bench and see whether we could hold up our honour amongst the other allotment sites of Trafford! We managed to put together 2 trays, 6 types of veg on each (as per the rules of the comp) in the stated quantities. It sounds easy, but when you're looking for 3, 6 or 8 of any specific type of veg that are as similar as possible and free from any blemishes, its a lot harder than it looks! The tray to the right of the piccy features 3 sweetcorn, 6 spuds, 8 runner beans, 3 onions and 6 toms from our plot (along with 6 french beans from Pat's plot) and the tray on the left features 3 of our turnips, then an assortment of other veg from various plots on Mos View! We kept it simple (as per the instructions / rules), but were amazed when we saw some of the trays from other sites!

As you can see, the standards of produce was amazing, and we knew fairly quickly that we weren't going to win (even tho our entry was exact to the rules and some of the others certainly didnt follow the rules exactly), but never mind, its the taking part that matters! The tray to the left with the 2 cauli and 1 squash was the first prize winner, and the tray to the right with the peppers and butternut squash was 2nd.

Some of the other trays were also excellent!

Whilst we were harvesting the produce for the show Pat noticed this yound hedgehog, sat sunning himself!

He had a small injury to his right ear, and was being bothered by the flies, so after checking he was ok, we decided to move him away from the flies by taking him to Pat and Colin's hedgehog house (they've had it for a few years and its not been used yet), but on showing him the entrance he decided he didnt like it, so took off at a fair click up the path towards our plot! A few minutes later I looked around for him, only to find..........


.................. that he'd decided that our hedgehog house was far more to his liking! A few seconds after we took this piccy, he turned round and went inside! Lovely!

So, after taking the hedgehog pictures and setting up the trays for the Gardeners Evening we went our separate ways to get ready for the night, and met up again at the Gardeners Evening!

There were 7 of us from Moss View who managed to turn up, to the venue, Flixton Ex-Servicemans Association, where the coucil liason, Janet had done a fantastic job decorating the large function room! There were piccies of plots, plotholders and other related pictures all over, must have been over 900 pictures on display, all at least A4 size.... even the piccy of the rabbit I managed to take a few months ago was on display!

After an intro from the Head of Services for Trafford MBC the local Mayor gave a speech, then the awards part began, with all those who had managed to earn a Very Highly Commended Certificate called up to receive a framed picture of their plot and a certificate from the mayor, where they had their picture taken for the local newspaper! There were about 24 VHC's for the plots (out of 1400 plots), of which only 3 went to allotmenteers who were running 2 plots, and these 3 got a big round of applause! Lee was the 3rd of them to be called up (as the plots are in his name), and as my name hadnt been called, I stayed firmly sat down! Lol!

After that was a talk by a locla wildlife expert (about encouraging wildlife onto allotments), then a break for a buffet, followed by a Gardeners Question Time session and the raffle! Amazingly we won a prize in the raffle, of a Spear and Jackson Stainless Steel Ergonomic Spade (10 yr guarantee!) Overall we had a good night, it was great to see Lee receive such a big round of applause (I think he was the youngest person in the room to get a VHC, and certainly the only non retired person to get 2 VHC's, 1 for each plot!

So, today being Lee's last day off we had a few bits n bobs to do before meeting Pat and Colin at the plot for lunch and to do the bee inspections! First off we went to Wilkinsons in Eccles to see if they had any tannin extract (the elderflower wine recipe in CJ Berry suggests using it) and to see if they had any (they didnt, but after talking with a friend, he suggested using a strong cup of cooled earl grey tea - without milk of course - as this contains plenty of tannin!), and also to see whether they had any onion sets yet! We left with a few more homebrew supplies and 2 types of  onions sets, with 50 sets in each packet!

On the way back home we popped into Parkers Garden Center as they were advetising the new fruit trees had arrived, so after a good look around we ended up with another packet of 100 onion sets and a dual plum tree, 2 varieties of plum grafted onto a single root stock! This will be planted into the bed behind it on the picture, the one with the lavender in it, which is what will be growing beneath the plum tree!

With the purchase of the plum tree and all the seeds on Monday, we've actually begun spending for next years balance sheet, the plum was £13 and the seeds £59.50, so next years balance sheet is at £72.50 currently, with the allotment rent and subs (usually about £100 or so) and the seed spuds (£20 or so) plus compost (£20 or so) and a load of manure (£20) still to come, which should make our spend next year significantly less than this year at about £232 for next year compared with the £504 we've spent for this growing year!

This afternoon we completed the bee inspections, with another 4 supers of honey almost ready to be taken for harvest (shuld be ready for next week) then we did a quick harvest, took a few piccies and came home to start melting the wax trmmings from the hives (the cappings from extraction and the bracecomb from the hives that we've been saving) in order that we can use the honey from them to start our mead and the wax to make some candles for the Stockport BBKA honey show in 2 months time!

Ok, so onto a few piccies from around the plot!

I think the Heath Robinson Hothouse has had its day!
The sprouts are coming on nicely!


As are some of the cabbages!

And finally, a piccy of some of the sweetcorn we had for tea, absolutely fantastic taste! We gave our Beekeeper friend Dave a cob last night (the third one we took for the Gardeners Evening Tray) and he rang us tonight just to say 'Wow' at the taste! Lol!

Ok, Im off for the next few days, still on holiday, so I should hopefully get to the plto and do a good harvest and get some more piccies, plus get some more past sauces made and frozen, some courgette soup made and frozen, some herbs dried for storage, some more wine started and hopefully some more pics and an updated balance sheet done before I return to work on monday (for a rest! Lol!)

Hope your harvests are coming in well and your balance sheets are more than healthy!

Thanks for reading!

4 comments:

BilboWaggins said...

"Wow" is getting to be somewhat overused when I look at your plots! Really enjoyed reading about your 'quiet' and 'relaxing' holiday (pfnar, pfnar, pfnar). Hope the winemaking is successful - I'm thinking of starting again too, after a 30 year break :}

Mrs Dobby said...

Hi Bilbo!

Lol, yup, relaxing isnt a word that I'd use, but know what you mean! Lol!

Add into the mix that we've got another 4 supers of honey to remove and extract / filter / jar up, (approx a full days work for 3 of us - hubby wont be able to help as he's at work) and the fact that I wanted to add a way for folks to be able to sample our honey via the blog (after so many enquiries on here from interested folks), then you've got most of the remaining days off filled already!

Ah well, no rest for the wicked! Lol!

Steph said...

what a great sight to see that little hedgehog making himself at home. time well spent making the house i think :) lovely.

Mrs Dobby said...

Hi Steph, yep, definitely makes you think time was well spent in building the hedgehog house! Strangely enough we've had 4 encounters with hedgehogs in the past 3 days, the first being the fellow on the plot, the next one being a large hedgehog making a lot of noise building a nest in the front garden (dragging grass under a bush)! Then lqast night there was a noise I can only descrbe as sounding like an injured bird (a bog one) out the back, we went to investigate, to find it was a baby hedgehog crying, its mother was hiding behind a planter and it couldnt see it, we nudged it in right direction, then gave it some food and it seemed a bit happier (well, it stopped screaming at least!)