Monday, 30 March 2015

Allotment diary part 4: cheating

My strict allotment schedule has already slipped. I've bunked off. I'm back in Ireland. 

I missed the sea. I got my fix yesterday, walking along the coastal path from Bray to Greystones with an old friend. Sea, mountains, gorse and rain. Wicklow really has it all.

I'm getting seedling updates via text and I'll be back on the straight and narrow next weekend. I've got lots more seeds to plant.

I think I need to get home and give these fellas some TLC

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Allotment diary part 3: shoots

Monty was right. The bucket-on-the-rhubarb technique works a treat, though I probably shouldn't be taking it off for the sake of a photograph. A couple more weeks and I think it will be ready for consumption.

We planted potatoes this weekend! The first time we have planted anything in the back bed of our allotment. This feels like real progress. We also have these lovely leeks doing well. The man with amazing allotment next to us gave these to us as seedlings late last year. He is really generous and doesn't laugh too much at our sporadic efforts. When these leeks are ready I'm going to make a big pot of leek and potato soup and pretend I'm at home with my mum who makes the best leek and potato soup in the world.

The first of the seeds I planted last week are already sprouting and I've kept to my strict seed sowing schedule (kale this week). I'm going to run out of space in my living room soon.

The sun came out this week for my front and back photos. Hopefully in a couple of weeks you'll be able to see a real difference.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Allotment diary part 2: progress

It may not look like it but we have already made progress on the allotment. We bought new/old shears at Homestuff with History (one of my favourite shops), we dug over the back bed again fine combing for roots and pesky weeds and I planted the first seeds. Planting seeds got me very excited mainly because I got to use these lovely coloured markers

As is my sad, significantly-over-30 way I was watching Gardener's World on Friday night. Monty told me I should put a bucket over my rhubarb to force it to produce beautiful pink shoots. So of course, I put a bucket over my rhubarb. I adore Monty. He is just so deliciously soothing after a week of work. Oh and I also planted sweet peas. Monty told me it was time. I was powerless to resist.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Allotment diary part 1: spring clean

I have a drawer full of perfectly swirled socks, leggings and tights. It's all the fault of a brilliant if slightly mad book I read last week. I threw out half my wardrobe and made sure my clothes were feeling "happy" in their drawers (you really have to read it).  The joy of the contented socks and the early spring sunshine went to my head and I skipped down to the allotment to continue the digging we started last week. 

We were neglectful of the allotment last year. We grew a few things, potatoes of course, but we never seemed to get to grips with our little patch. This year, inspired by my sock success, is going to be different. I'm going to document our progress here. At the moment it's a lot of bare earth:
Looking from the front (out of control sage bush) to the back (by the fence and compost bin) sides marked out by the freshly dug boundaries.

The allotment from the back fence. This is the first time we have dug the back bed. The new annexe.    

Memorial to a broken spade. You served us well.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Cambridge favourites: FoodCycle

I had been meaning to volunteer with FoodCycle for ages before I finally got around to it. But I was busy, always terribly busy. Towards the end of last summer, I had the startling realisation I was unlikely to get any less busy and that I should just get on with it. I am so glad I pulled myself together.

FoodCycle runs volunteer led community projects across the UK, working to reduce food poverty and social isolation by serving tasty, nutritious meals to vulnerable people. All the meals served are made using surplus food.

Everyone loves croutons....
When you tell people you spend a couple of Saturday's a month cooking or cleaning up after a meal made this way they tend to tell you you are wonderful. This makes me feel like a very big fraud. I get so much more out of it than I have to put in. For one, it's often the best meal I have all week (come along to our Saturday lunch at 12.30 in St Paul's if you don't believe me). I get great recipe ideas from the other volunteers. It's always good fun whether cooking or clearing up and I've met so many fabulous people, other volunteers and guests.

Cambridge FoodCycle is launching a second meal on the 18th March. We'll be cooking at Barnwell Baptist Church on Howard Road on the first and third Wednesdays of every month. If you'd like to get involved just sign up here.

A fabulous menu from January

Main course ready to serve

Soup always goes down well