Oh no, not another marrow! A marrow & ale chutney recipe for when you’re not expecting a marrow.


It happens to us all, we go away on holiday, forget to pick a courgette or discover a hidden monster of a marrow under a forest of leaves, that’s not to say many of us grow marrows on purpose. We fall into the first category, preferring a nice courgette or zucchini over a hefty marrow. We try to avoid having a marrow monster on our hands, but sometimes you just can’t avoid the odd marrow. Of course that’s not to mention those ‘gifted’ to you. We’re a generous bunch us allotmenteers, and I bet a fair few of use have been offered a marrow from a plot neighbour at some time or other, offered with look of marrow induced panic in their eyes (please take the marrow PLEASE!). And so that’s what we did accepting a marrow from Con, one of the loveliest, gentlest of the old-timer allotment holders at our site, you just can’t say no to Con, he’s such a quiet man and it must have taken a lot to think of us and offer up one of his marrows. It was delicious, we made a lovely stuffed marrow with wild rice and made the mistake of telling someone down the plots. Since then we keep finding flipping marrows left for us on our shed step!
Continue reading “Oh no, not another marrow! A marrow & ale chutney recipe for when you’re not expecting a marrow.”


Bountiful. A review of the season (so far…)

Forgive me, I’ve hardly blogged about the plot this summer. Recent weather aside (it’s a wet and windy Saturday afternoon as I write this), it’s a been a glorious summer and to be honest with you, we’ve just been so busy enjoying it down 18a. After a unseasonable cool start to the season full of worry whether we would ever get any kind of crop going, we approach the end of the growing season with a bumper crop of unexpected allotment loveliness. After a rather crappy first 6 months of 2013 for myself personally, the allotment and the abundance of nature there have helped me overcome my blues and banish my little rain clouds. So what’s been going on down 18a? Well let’s see…
Continue reading “Bountiful. A review of the season (so far…)”

An Apple a Day. Apple Day 2012

So today Sunday 21st of October 2012 was Apple Day. The day itself was a grey, damp and rheumy one but that didn’t matter, today was the apples big day. To celebrate Apple Day our allotment kids club, The Young Gardeners Club had a special little meet up in the community hut. Apple Day was started in Covent Garden on 21st Oct. 1990 to demonstrate the significance of the apple to British culture, landscape and wildlife. It is now celebrated countrywide and is part of the festive calendar. The Young Gardeners Club celebrated by making apple juice using a borrowed traditional apple press and bevy of surplus apples kindly donated by plot holders. So you can imagine there was a wide array of varieties, flavour, textures, shapes and sizes of apples on offer. With many of the fruit trees potentially being 75 years old or more there where plenty of heritage and unusual apple varieties to show. A great opportunity to teach the kids about the vast varieties and diversity of British apples. And more importantly that the uniform flavourless apples found in the supermarkets are not necessarily the norm. They had a good turn out, I didn’t realise there was so many children at our plots. The apple juice flowed and someone even made an apple cake! A successful first Apple day for the Young Gardeners Club. Continue reading “An Apple a Day. Apple Day 2012”

King of Carrot Flowers. My Mocks & Spencer Sweet Carrot Chutney.

Carrots are a tricky beast. Easy to grow yet difficult to successfully grow. Like so many other frustrated veggie growers our carrots are constantly plagued by carrot fly. Pursued incessantly throughout the summer months (most active May to September, so that’s basically ALL summer) by this destructive little fly. On paper the carrot fly sounds monstrous; smelling a thinned or freshly pulled carrot on the wind flying a distance to find your baby carrots, laying their eggs so that their grubs feast on the poor defenceless carrot. All the while the veggie grower is blissful in their ignorance, unaware of what horrors lurk beneath the soil. Not only do we have the carrot fly to do battle with but enter the ant and if you’re really unlucky, a mole. Our plot neighbour insist that ants constantly eat their carrot seedlings (jury are still out on that one). It’s not just the marauding pests but their quite picky about their environment. Lovers of fine sandy, free draining stone free soil. Snubbing any manure splitting and growing knobbly at the first sight of a stone. And we’ve all got conditions like that, right? Continue reading “King of Carrot Flowers. My Mocks & Spencer Sweet Carrot Chutney.”

My Blue Blue Blueberries. – Blueberry & Lavender Jam

“It’s sad and it’s cold at the bottom of the sea but at least I’ve got my blueberries with me.” – Blueberry Boat by The Fiery Furnaces.

Well it finally happened. The inventible blight has struck at the plot. With weeks of wet and warm weather the tomatoes have finally succumbed to the dreaded blight. As we do not spray, trying to be as organic as possible, blight unfortunately is an inevitable fate for our doomed outdoor tomatoes.The 2012 growing season so far certainly hasn’t been a contender for the best season ever, however not everything has been moping down at 18a. Non non, the blueberries and black currants in particular have been quietly fruiting modestly in the soft fruit bed. I might even go as far to say their the best blueberries we’ve ever grown. Continue reading “My Blue Blue Blueberries. – Blueberry & Lavender Jam”

After the Rain Comes (a little) Sun.

After what seems like months of wet and cloudy weather the sun has finally put its hat on this weekend. A little sunshine is just what the allotment has been desperate for. Despite it being almost August it feels like the season is only really just getting going in earnest. With a list of jobs to do as long as our arms we took the opportunity to make hay whilst the sun shines. Continue reading “After the Rain Comes (a little) Sun.”

Finally P-S-B!

Patience is often a virtue down the allotment, and it doesn’t ring more true than with Purple Sprouting Broccoli. After almost a 12 month wait today finally our first shoots are ready to harvest.


We purchased (missed the boat to sow our own) the seedling PSB from our local garden centre back in late May, transplanting them into their home in the Brassica bed and left them mostly to their own devices. After many a struggle with netting and canes to protect them from the invading wildlife (persistent cabbage whites and devious wood pigeons) and after loosing many of their rank to the bitter winter weather, we finally have a modest harvest.

As much as I love PSB this year we’ll only grow a few to try out more smaller quick growing Brassica. One of which we’ll be trying as an alternative to the plot-hoggers PSB is Cima Di Rapa. which is actually a sprouting Turnip top ready in under 60 days! A popular southern Italian vegetable used commonly to make Orecchiette dishes. Picked up a packet reduced to 50p in my local garden centre. I do love a good bargain.