Tuesday, 21 May 2013

A Nod In The Direction Of Chelsea

No visitor to my blog can doubt that my main interest is vegetables.  I used to be a paid up member of the "if you can't eat it don't grow it" school.  The thin end of the wedge was the flowering alliums.  I mean, they are onions aren't they? Last autumn I was buying some for planting up in troughs when these "black" tulips caught my attention on the same shelf at the garden centre. Given that they like the same conditions it would be easy enough to plant them up too. Well they've stolen a march on the alliums and flowered before Chelsea!

It has been a bit of a job protecting the long stalks from the high winds!

The alliums aren't so far behind:

While on the subject of eating I'm including my latest bread experiment: soft pretzels:

Pretzel or Peace 
 And just in case you think that was a one off here's the rest of the batch:

Pretzel Motley Crew
The characteristic crust colour of pretzels comes from dipping in an alkaline solution called "lye",  but  as this is an industrial strength solution unobtainable to home consumers I've used a bicarbonate of soda solution instead. The results aren't quite as satisfactory. Even so they they were very popular and soon disappeared.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Carrot Temple

Carrot Net
I've just been rained off the allotment so I thought I would take the opportunity to share my latest acquisition: a whacking great carrot net.  The supporting frame is made up from cannibalised "Malk In Greenhouse" parts.  (Although the zips break,  plastic sheeting rips and the design is unstable, the metal rods and plastic corner joints are good Meccano material).  Bricks, once again, prove to be the gardeners flexible friend!  Organic carrots are our most frequent grocery purchase, so I am determined to grow more of them as home grown organic is another step up again.

In the foreground you might just be able to see tiny parsnip plants.  These have been grown in cardboard tubes (yes, toilet rolls) at home to allow enough depth and seem happy to be planted out, hopefully before the roots noticed that they ran out of space and decided to fork in protest.  We shall see.  But they look happy a week on.  The autumn planted alliums are in the background and are putting on  a spring spurt.

Now if only it would stop raining...

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Chelsea Result

Today I achieved one of my baking ambitions:

Add caption
 I baked Chelsea Buns for the first time.  The recipe was from Dan Lepard. He is good with sweet things - and these are sweet and lemony.

One reason for trying this was a recent acquisition: a Scottish Scraper.Perfect for slicing up rolled up dough:

As you cans see from the following there was a good rise:

Another thing a Scottish Scraper is good for is slicing off strips of dough to be stretched and rolled in seeds to make breadsticks.  These have proved very popular.

On reflection the new piece of kit will be called a "chibber".

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Brown is a Colour Too!

Here's the current state of play at the allotment:

The view from the end
Reverse view of potato patch

Alliums,  Other Roots and Brassica patches at the ready

Legumes/Others with Fruit Cage Beyond

Fruit Cage - reverse view.  Black is a colour too - now that's stretching it!

Dear reader, you may be a little underwhelmed by this post as the pictures consist almost entirely of  swathes(?) of earth with little of interest (aside from a busy allium patch and some emerging clumps of rhubarb).  The reason for this public display of monotonous cultivation is down to the fact that allotment tenants of City of Edinburgh Council are experiencing unprecedented scrutiny by way of inspection - at two weekly intervals.  Reference has been made to a tendentious 70% cultivation rule, third strike and you are out rule,  and photographic evidence too!  In the light of this worrisome state of affairs imposed by our betters (that’s our local allotment association FEDAGA in collusion with City of Edinburgh Council) it’s time for me to produce some photographic evidence of my own. You never know when you might need it. I currently meet the fastidious standards, and I thought I better record this fact!  My rent is  up to date – but this is no longer enough for the landlord -  horticultural excellence is now a contractual requirement if you want to rent an Edinburgh Allotment!   I don’t know of any other group in society subject to such overbearing strictures from their landlords. 

If you are a member of an allotment association make sure they look after your interest, not that of the Council.