The September Garden

It’s September already. Autumn is fast approaching, but for the now, the weather is perfect here in the South East. It’s warm but not the fierce heat we had a month or two ago. Continue reading “The September Garden”

Allotment Etiquette

Everyone is different and everyone approaches things differently, so on a small section of God’s green land, that’s divided and shared among the green-fingered community, it’s inevitable that tensions between tenants will arise on occasion. Whether it’s competitiveness over the best looking spuds, or ownership over the last shovel of free horse manure, we all like a good moan.

However, when allotments are left to ruin and start encroaching on your own garden of Eden, what can you do? Plot

At present, my allotment is surrounded by several disused plots. One includes a wonderful orchard full of plum and apple trees, gooseberry and raspberry bushes. Plums

Up until early last year, the chap who rented the plot would maintain, prune and mow the surrounding grassland. We would always exchange pleasantries, comment on the weather and compliment each other’s hard work. He began building some decking, brought up a barbecue, and talked about spending summer evenings relaxing among the trees. Come autumn, the orchard would be bulging with fruit for the taking, it was a splendid sight, and followed by its pretty blossoms in spring, you couldn’t help but envy his orchard.

Unfortunately I haven’t seen him since spring last year, which meant, by autumn, his trees and bushes were teeming with fruit, and left to rot. Nevertheless, I did lighten the load by taking some of the fallen fruit. Right or wrong, I couldn’t bear the thought of it going to waste, it seemed criminal.

Several months on, there’s still no sign of the fella and his orchard has become overgrown and lost in the wilderness. But what makes it worse, it’s now encroaching on my allotment. Overgrown

I had hoped to see him, as I know he still has the lease on the plot. I was looking forward to a friendly conversation where I could find out what’s going on, and see if he was going to make good.

But with no sign of him, I’m finding I’m losing precious time as I have to constantly cutback the excessive growth. I’ve also noticed, compared to last year, a lot more of my crops are suffering from bug attacks. Of course this could just be a coincidence, but part of me thinks these troublesome critters have been making their bug homes in the overgrown areas, and feasting on my goods in the small wee hours.. Grrr!

I’m not someone who tell tales, I want this resolved in a positive way but I wonder if the allotment secretary knows the situation? If the orchard is too much for him, I had briefly considered taking it on myself. The idea almost paralysed Agent Soph. ‘Nooooo! Not more produce to cook, pickle, freeze and bake!”

But when your allotment is surrounded by disused plots, you have to ask, should people be allowed to hold onto them? After all, with such high waiting lists, it seems rather self indulgent to have something for the sake of having it, and then not using it. Of course, personal and health issues do occur, so without a doubt, allowances should be made. But still.

(Agent Ade steps down from his soapbox.)Overgrown1

For now, I hope the orchard man is fine and in good health, and that he soon makes a welcome return. Otherwise, I may suggest to the allotment secretary that something needs to be done with the autumn fruit.

Which brings me onto the next item on the agenda..

Snail

How do you evict these unwanted buggers?AdeSignature

The Great ‘Agents of Field’ Bake Off… (Sort of)

It’s the weekend, Soph’s had to go into work and I have the place to myself.. more importantly the kitchen is mine! MUHAHAHA!

After spending last weekend with Soph’s folks, we returned from the country with a batch of freshly-picked plums. All week Soph has gently (yet firmly) suggested I do something with them. I had offered to turn them into a crumble, but we all know that as a pudding addict, I’d have it baked, out of the oven and into my stomach before Soph has even lifted her spoon. So after much deliberation, I opted for Plan B: bake a cake! plums

Now, I’m not going to pretend, cooking isn’t my greatest passion, that’s Agent Sophie’s domain. However, cake-baking is something I do occasionally enjoy. Every year, I bake Soph a birthday cake, and when Christmas comes round it’s a chocolate log in a hung stocking for one and all!bake Collage

I knew the sort of thing I wanted to do, but quantities and timings I wasn’t so sure of, so after a quick search of the internet, I settled on this recipe: Plum Cake.

With ingredients mixing and the oven warming, it was time to go a little avant garde. As I was using yellow plums, I thought the cake might not look vibrant enough. So after a quick forage in the garden I returned with a bowl of freshly-picked autumn raspberries to throw into the mix. bake2 Collage

As a big fan of  The Great British Bake Off, I know only too well the perils of baking with fruit, so I ended up baking the cake for an hour and twenty minutes rather than the 45-55 minutes the recipe suggested because of the additional moisture from the raspberries. No soggy bottoms here, Mary!Cake

If you’re looking for something that’ll use up that autumn harvest, I highly recommend this cake. Not only is it great with a cup of tea, you can also warm it up and eat it as a pud with  custard or ice-cream.

A cake and a pudding rolled into one? That makes me a happy man. And with a wife singing my praises as she tucks into her second slice..  life is sweet. AdeSignature