Monday, 25 April 2011

Enjoying the fine spring weather

I had a lovely walk yesterday - and enjoyed all the best of spring - lambs playing in the fields, a bluebell wood and bees out and about round the hives.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Self sown seedlings

Now that the weather has warmed up self sown seedlings are popping up all over the place at the allotment.

Californian Poppies


and Purple Orach.
I plan to let them grow on a bit, before moving them to their permanent positions.

An alternative use for a sponge and a bit of woodwork

It is almost a year now since I planted a grapevine in the polytunnel. The plant has grown well, but I've never got round to sorting out the framework for it to be trained along. This is mainly due to me ordering 4 x 4 wood for the job in the first place. This quickly proved to be much too chunky to work with for this task, and very heavy to handle too.

Finally last week I decided to bite the bullet and order fresh wood, 2 x 2 this time (!), and getting down to work. The lighter, slimmer pieces of wood made all the difference. They were a pleasure to work with. Having put off for so long I resolved to do the job properly this time....and paint the wood with the wood preservative/stain I had left over from work on the polytunnel. Only then I realised that I didn't have a paint brush on site. Determined to make some progress, I spotted one of those small oblong kitchen sink sponges. Dipping one side in the "paint", this proved to be the perfect tool. Did the job much more quickly than a brush, and with less stress on my wrist. I couldn't believe how quickly I was able to treat 5 posts in this way.

Over the next couple of evenings I nailed the posts into place, digging them in at the base too. Last night was the big moment when I was able to screw in the vine eyes and attach the wires.....AND tie in the shoots.

Finished at last!

Once I found the right tools for the job I really enjoyed the work....and I feel very proud of what I've learnt. The initial 4 x 4 posts won't be wasted either....I plan to use them on the allotment to create a structure for the Raspberries when I move them to the back of the plot.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Creating a forest garden

My copy of this wonderful book arrived yesterday. I'm very impressed that it's a lovely hardback cover for only £18.

I've only just started reading it, but can see it is going to be a great source of inspiration and information!

Sunday, 3 April 2011

A cake to celebrate spring

I made a Rhubarb and Orange Cake on Friday night to celebrate the arrival of spring -- made the first pick of Rhubarb before going to work.

The recipe came from BBC Good Food magazine some years ago.


Rhubarb mixture
12 oz rhubarb cut into 1 1/2 inch lengths
2 oz sugar
zest of an organge

Cake mixture

6 oz sugar
5 oz butter
2 eggs beaten
1/2 tsp baking powder
3 oz SR flour
4 oz ground almonds
juice of an orange


1 oz brown sugar
2 oz flaked almonds
1 oz butter

The first step is to stir 2 ozs on sugar and the grated zest of an orange into the chopped up Rhubarb - and then leave for an hour so that some of the bitter juices are drawn out.

For the cake mixture itself cream together the marg/butter and sugar, then stir in the flour, baking powder, ground almonds, eggs, orange juice then put into a 9 inch round greased cake tin. Drain rhubarb chunks and distribute over the surface of the cake.
Cook for 25 minutes at 170c (fan oven 170).

Prepare the topping by melting together the butter and brown sugar, then stirring in flaked almonds.

After 25 mins remove cake from oven and distribute topping over surface. Return to oven for 15 mins at 180 c (fan oven 160) - test centre is cooked and along to cool a little.

The cake is best served warm with fresh cream or ice cream.