Allotment Adventures: Weeds are everywhere

It’s May, the point of my growing year where I’m not ready to start planting out and the weeds are all over the place! Without my trusty sidekick, I’m having to do a lot of the maintenance my own self and while I can do it, I much prefer having Ma on the plot to help with netting and to tame my more wild flights of fancy!

I cut some grass, which is the allotment equivalent of hoovering the most hated of housework tasks, I need to do the other side which will be easier and the front. I also need to identify this plant, which has come up by the apple tree. Any ideas?

There are potatoes everywhere, in the bed I put them in but also rogue ones all over. I generally have a ‘if it’s useful or pretty don’t pull it up’ policy with weeds, which is why there are patches of rocket and coriander all over the paths, why there is aramanth, california poppies and borage everywhere and why we let the mystery squash grow last year. The only exception to this rule are raspberry runners but I’m a little stumped about whether to leave the potatoes or pull them up, for the moment, I’m so focused on the weeds I really don’t want (there is so much bindweed on the new half) that I’m leaving the potatoes alone but overall this is why I decided to grow them in pots..

I did put the cloche up and have all the flowers hardening off, I just put them in and leave them, if they die, they die! And I’ll have to do the same with some of the many winter squash plants because the living room is struggling to cope. I potted the tomatoes on and ended up with 47, I have over 20 winter squash plants and only 9 summer squash plants, (3 crookneck, 3 courgettes and 3 patty pans) it’s like I’m learning my lesson…very slowly!

I have tomorrow off work so hopefully over the next couple of days, I’ll get the weeding done and all the other pesky jobs I’ve been putting off.

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Friday Links: Boris is Back and I can’t decide if that’s good news

Happy Friday!

I’ve had a pretty strange week, yesterday, I was at the allotment and someone or something stole my sandals. I think it was foxes, with that and the mystery cat, I feel like I’m being terrorised by small animals…

Here are this week’s links, you will notice that there is nothing here about Boris Johnson’s 6th or 7th child. He doesn’t need the attention..

 I Never Planned to Face the Coronavirus as a Worker at Dollar General 

Trump and the Coronavirus: A Sour President, Home Alone at the White House

A cavalier Tory leader and a botched pandemic response? It must be 1957

‘Not just weeds’: how rebel botanists are using graffiti to name forgotten flora

‘Sweet City’: the Costa Rica suburb that gave citizenship to bees, plants and trees

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Lockdown Cooking

I think I’ve said before that I’m not finding cooking during lockdown all that hard, I cook most of what I eat anyway and not having to pack it up to eat in the office is actually easier. I also have a full freeze but the hardest thing has been finding flour and yeast, which is a pain given that I buy plain flour and bread flour every other week

Just as this started, I ordered an instant pot and that’s been really handy, a top tip from Sustainable Cooks has been using the yoghurt setting to get bread dough to rise!

Most breakfasts have been yoghurt and fruit or pumpkin pancakes, yoghurt and fruit (although I will admit to rhubarb crumble and yoghurt for a couple of breakfasts!).

Lunches have been soup or toast or picky bits (hummus, eggs, cornichion).

There has been some baking, these are the cocoa brownies from Smitten Kitchen and they are amazing and very simple, you can make them plain but if you have some dark chocolate or choc chips, you really should add them!

The other thing I’m semi doing is preparing food parcels for Sarah because she’s currently working and hasn’t been home to Fred and Justin since the lockdowns so living in an airbnb. Food for her has just been a copy cat of what I’m eating, some risotto, soup, pasta, egg rolls, dahl. Not much different from how I cook for myself but better than a diet of kebabs or M&S ready meals, no shade on either of those options but not exactly sustaining for weeks on end!

This weekend, I used stale bread to make bread pudding. Most of which is in the freezer because otherwise I’ll just eat all of it!

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Friday Links: Still indoors

Happy Friday! This is a bit late (sorry Mum!) because I have this thing called work instead of being on holiday in the North!

However, I am in London and alive and well and not mourning the death of a loved one, and I won the work zoom quiz. It’s the first time I’ve done it and I won, it’s a completely unjustified reputation I have mostly based on lucky guesses…

Here are some links:

Coronavirus has wrecked my finances – and I’m sure I’m not alone. This is not me right now, but it was me after the last recession and during that period of unemployment. It sucks…

Boris Johnson is the wrong man in the wrong job at the wrong time

Richard Branson’s bailout plea proves there’s no one more shameless

South Carolina’s Republicans gutted public healthcare. Then the pandemic hit

Here is Stanley Tucci making a negroni. He’s shaking it wrong but no one cares…but the vodka is bad advice!

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Allotment Adventures: Random Potatoes

It’s that point in spring where the things that I’ve planted are slowly getting going but the weeds are going hell for leather!

At the back of the plot I’m pulling up weeds and volunteer potatoes out (6 on Sunday) and it’s getting ridiculous. I’m also realising how much I don’t have to do because Ma does it. Weekly watering of perennial fruit and weeding in the paths mostly.

The fruit is beginning to start. We have baby plums, gooseberries and blackcurrants. The summer raspberries are beginning to flower, the blueberries and the apple tree are still looking outrageously extra and we even have a couple of strawberry flowers that I completely didn’t manage to eradicate.

Much to my surprise, we may even get irises next month. I planted a bunch under the plum tree about three years ago and they’ve done nothing, this is the first year they actually look like irises.

My grandmother was named Iris because they were flowering in her father’s garden when she was born in May, I’ve been completely unsuccessful in growing them, so if they flower next month when my mum can’t see them, I’ll be both delighted and sad (such are the times right now).

I still have a huge amount of work to do and I’ve been very lax with an awful lot of it but there’s still a lot of time until autumn!

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Monday Miscellany: Cat Naps…

Happy Monday! I checked the calendar is it actually Monday…

This is the ‘there are no updates’ Monday Miscellany post. So I would like to tell you about my night of being terrorised by a cat…

Last Thursday night, I was tired and went to bed as usual at 10pm and was woken up at just past midnight by a cat.

I should explain my bedroom window overlooks downstairs flat roof and often wildlife visit, (my favourites are always the magpies*), but I also, unless it’s utterly frigid, sleep with the window open and on Thursday night it was wide open. I also have Radio 4 on all night. So at 15 minutes past midnight I’m awoken from my sleep by a baby…once I’m fully awake I realise it’s a cat and its outside my window. On the flat roof, paws on the windowsill, meowing it’s head off but not coming in. I worry a bit because it doesn’t have a collar so I don’t know if it’s a stray or belongs to someone and is just trying it’s luck but mostly because I hate to think of a domesticated creature that doesn’t get looked after properly. I grew up with stray/feral cats around and it makes me really bloody cross. Eventually, it stops meowing and sits down, so I close the window a bit and go back to sleep.

At 2.37am, I wake up to see that the cat is on the windowsill watching me. It doesn’t go away just watches me. So I go and sit in the living room for a bit. When I come back, it’s still there. My best guess is that this cat spends it’s nights sitting on my window sill for Radio 4 and was annoyed that my window was opened too wide for it to do that. Or it’s stalking me as it’s preparing to conquer the world..

So here is what I learned last week. Cat owners need to put collars on their cats and I really need curtains. Then yesterday, I was queuing to get into Wilko and there was a lady in front of me with a cat in a backpack. It’s been a weird cat week….

Other than that the week was fairly uneventful, I reached zero laundry in the basket and was so disgusted by the dirtiness of the laundry basket, I washed that too, I also hoovered, did all the ironing and cleaned the oven again. The intervention I thought I needed after this is over might not be the one anyone was expecting….

As you’ve read through all that, here is a Monday gift. Doncaster Council’s twitter feed. I know that doesn’t feel like a gift but when you see their lessons learnt from history, you’ll get it, you’re reading this, you’re my people and whoever is running this feed, needs a raise!

*In the back of my mind there is a story about a girl and her pet magpie because magpies are amazing and I love the way they hop…

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Sunday Music: Something to Love – Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit

I needed to hear this right now…you might too..

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