Leek and Mackerel Pasta Bake

Ade dug up the last of the allotment leeks at the weekend. They’ve grown really well this season; we’ve had a steady supply of them for a couple of months which is great as they’re such a useful ingredient for warming, winter comfort foods. Continue reading “Leek and Mackerel Pasta Bake”

A Fresh Start

Something happened this weekend, something we’ve all been eagerly waiting for; spring finally sprung! The sun shined, the air felt warm and nature was starting to stir. From the early shoots on a newly-pruned clematis to the  sound of a lone bee bouncing drowsily around my polytunnel, it seemed that everything was finally starting to wake up.IMG_20160313_161022

For me, two days off from work meant time divided between allotment and garden, both of which were vying for my attention with jobs that needed doing. Plants

In the garden, I cut down blackened perennials from last year and did some weeding and mulching. I’ve been growing several plants from seed that will eventually go out into the garden, but I’m no fool; I’ve learnt the hard way that despite these bright days, the nights are still Jack Frost’s domain and now is not the time for planting out my young seedlings. To do so would only end in tears with me on my knees, holding my withered plants as I look to the sky in despair yelling ‘NOOOO!’

Up on the plot, I was keen to bury my fingers in soil, so I headed for the warming polytunnel to sow tomatoes, leeks, chard, basil, lettuce, pak choi and beetroot (Boltardy, Chioggia & Albina Vereduna). The Albina Vereduna variety are from Rob Smith’s heritage range at Dobies. I’m keen to try these as they’re meant to have a different, sweeter taste.

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I’m expecting to plant out my seeded potatoes and sow some early carrots and parsnips before the end of the month so today I also placed a fleece over the beds in the hope it will warm the soil to give me a headstart.2

There is a moment in every gardener’s day when time stands still. No matter the long list of jobs clamouring for our attention, we all take solace in this moment. We stop, breathe in the air, take in our surroundings, the colours, sights and smells. It’s something only us gardeners know about and appreciate. Being still with ourselves, and with nature. Not to get too poetic, it’s when we submit ourselves, totally, to the moment. I think this is what they call mindfulness.

For me, it was bathing in the warming sun and watching the other allotmenteers going about their tasks, all part of the allotment life at large, all busying themselves like bees in a hive. As well as the regular faces, there were some new ones. The once unkept, unloved plots were now getting a new lease of life from keen hands with new ideas.

And quite right too, after all, spring is all about fresh starts. AdeSignature

The Sound of Spring

Across the land from parks to allotments, gardens to woodlands, there’s a sound gaining volume; a fanfare from the proud trumpets of  daffodils piercing through the soil, heralding spring. 2

I’m sure winter still has a sting in her tail, she’s not done with us yet. But you can’t help but notice the toneless landscapes are finally changing as pockets of Narcissus explode on the scene.

This welcome sight tells me we’re at the gates of a new gardening season with so much hope and excitement ahead of us. It’s a journey we all look forward to. Gardening blogs are crammed with tales of sowing, Instagram is brimming with colour and Twitter is almost at breaking point, enticing us to visit all things RHS-related.

So not to be left out in the cold, I spent my weekend flitting between garden and allotment, getting as much done as I could, while poor Agent Soph was left wondering what had happened to her missing husband.

First job, to pot up my pepper, chilli and aubergine seedlings. They have come on in leaps and bounds, and with their true leaves gaining size they were ready to trade up and move into something a little larger. 1 Collage

I also sowed some spring onions. I grew some last year and was delighted with the results. So this year, I’ve opted for White Lisbon and a red variety called Furio. They’re easy to grow, need little looking after and the taste is wonderful.

Not yet done with the compost, I decided to plant a bag of shallots. They were a freebie from a gardening website, so I was keen to get these growing. However, after last year’s ‘Onion-maggeddon’, where I lost my entire crop of onions to the dreaded onion fly, I planted these in tubs and have left them to grow in the polytunnel. I’m going to try to grow onions on the plot again this year, but this time I’m going to start them off in modules, get a good root system going and when they have some growth and the ground is warmer, I’ll plant them outside.. and firmly cross my fingers.2 Collage

Back from the allotment and straight into the garden, I pruned a couple of my clematis, gave them a feed and mulched them. Then the final job was to pot up my Nerine bulbs, (a lovely christmas gift from Soph’s parents.) I’ve never grown these before, and as an autumn flower they should really add some wonderful pink and white tones to the garden later this year.

But then it was onto the last and most important task of the day.. 1

… some cut flowers for my good lady wife, and home.

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