Monday, 4 January 2016

Harvest Monday - squashy squash

I hope you all had a lovely festive season. We went to stay with my folks for a few days on the south coast, so didn't get any harvesting or allotmenting done during that time. We did get out for a few walks though, and found a few geocaches whilst we were out and about too.
Back in Norwich we thought we'd see what geocaches were around our way as well, and blimey there's some good ones! I didn't get any photos at the time but they included a tiny cache hidden in the end of a stick (if anyone watched the new spy drama Deutschland 83 last night, it was exactly like the spy-thingy hidden in the woods), Another was a small tube attached to the top of a high fence that we had to use a pulley system to bring within reach, plus a very clever cache disguised as a bolt, attached by a magnet to the back of a metal railing (the railing was full of real bolts too, so this was very well disguised!). I mean, wow! Amazingly we all walk past these things everywhere, they are all over the place. I expect we looked a tad suspicious poking around in trees and behind fences though but hey ho - and thank you to all the people who take time to place and look after caches - brilliant!
Anyway, back to the plot.....I popped to the allotment during the day on New Years Eve as it wasn't raining for a change. The main thing I did was to cover my broad beans with enviro-mesh. Although I'd only just sown them in autumn, because of the mild winter they've already got 4 or 5 leaves on most plants! I didn't want them to get nipped-off by pigeons or damaged by the strong winds so hopefully the mesh will protect them. That is if the local foxes don't jump all over the mesh like they sometimes do.
At the weekend I sorted through my seeds to decide what to order this year. Usually I do this in October or November so not sure why it took me until now this time. It doesn't matter anyway, as most things won't need sowing for ages. I think I sometimes I panic and worry they'll run out of what I want, particularly seed potatoes. Tomorrow night I'll place the order, that is if we haven't gone out to see the new Star Wars film :)
It reminded me that I do usually sow some things in January though, so I'd better get organised (some toms inside, peas for shoots etc). No need to rush though, I'll check what the temperatures are likely to be over the next month or so first.
Just before we were due to leave for the train to my folks I noticed that one of my butternut squashes had started to rot from the stalk. So I quickly cut off the rotten end, cubed it and put in the freezer. The remaining two squashes (including my nine-pounder) looked ok so I decided to risk leaving them (plus I didn't have the freezer space). When we got back unfortunately they'd both gone the same way.....The lean-to where I keep them leaks so there's quite a lot of moisture around with all this rain, plus the mild weather doesn't help.
Cutting off the rotten bit
Luckily still a good amount left to eat
Some has been roasted with rosemary from the front yard
Nice with more corn salad picked from the plot.
Just for a change (ho ho) I was making a pot of chickpea curry-thing and and wanted to add a bit of greenery, so snipped some parsley from the lean-to (after the toms and basil had died off, parsley germinated by itself in the compost, bonus!). I've been using cooled water from greens cooking to water them every now and then (as it has nutrients in it). You have to use the water pretty quickly as otherwise it really smells.
A few other things have germinated by themselves too - some young nettles, which Jan made into a soup today (normally only a spring meal due to needing to use young leaves)
And....some tomato plants! I took this photo a few weeks ago and they've continued to grow. If the mild winter carries on they might make it all the way through to spring. That would be exciting. I could bring them inside but I think it's too dark for them so will let them fend for themselves out in the lean- to. They're on a narrow windowsill away from the outer windows so probably in the warmest place. I've been giving them a bit of water every now and then when they've been very dry. They're a little bit vulnerable to falling off the window-sill actually, so I might move them down onto the bench in front and wrap bubble wrap round the pots. We'll see what happens eh.

That's me for the week, thanks for reading.

Linking in with Harvest Monday hosted this week by Michelle at From Seed To Table who is kindly hosting for the month :)


  1. Ooh, good luck on the tomatoes inside, how fabulous if they make it through the winter! And too bad on the rotting squash, but there was plenty good left to eat.

    You are way ahead of me on the seeds but then your season is ahead of me. I usually snuggle in some weekend in January to sort through the seeds I have and check out the new seed catalogues (what have I got, what do I want, etc.).

    And "local foxes" - yikes! Best wishes for a warm and prosperous 2016!

    1. Thanks Susie, yep it will interesting to see what happens with the tomatoes. I expect if it does turn cold (as it should be now) they'll succumb. But it's nice to have some green plants in the lean to in the meantime, brightening up an otherwise soggy and dank area.
      I might place my seed order today, ooh :)
      The broad beans are looking ok so far, no fox damage yet, phew. Hope you have a great 2016 too!

  2. Tomato plants in January! Good luck. I'll be covering my broad beans too, if they get around to germinating, but it's not about foxes and pigeons, the little birds peck them to death. Too bad about the squash, good thing you caught the rot before it ruined everything.

    1. Thanks Michelle, hope you get good germination on your broad beans. Mine have straightened themselves up quite nicely under the enviromesh so far - I have some stakes in the ground that I've draped the mesh over to keep it off the plants, mainly so that cats and foxes don't tread on the plants and break them or dig in the soil around them. They like the soft earth where I weeded and raked flat before sowing the beans. I had to clear out some little surprises from them even though I'd laid twiggy sticks all over the place, yuk :/ hmm, I didn't know that little birds like to peck at them too, not sure if there's any that do that over here.

  3. Happy New Year Lou! The warmish weather definitely has not been good for the winter storage of veg - my squash are ok, but I do have some potatoes that need using up as they are already starting to sprout. It looks like the weather has finally turned, however, and winter is here - it's -16C right now. Time to get out those seed catalogues ;)

    1. Thanks Margaret, happy new year to you too. I keep thinking about my potatoes as well, They're ok so far but I still have a load to use so I'll probably have to do something with the majority of them in the next month or two. Last year I boiled, mashed, then froze in portions which worked well. It meant we could get out a portion when we needed it and didn't have to go back to buying them in spring.
      Ooh -16, wow, that's cold. It's still mild and wet here though I did manage a couple of hours on the plot today in actual sunshine, yes! Ha ha, yep a good time for the seed catalogues :)

  4. Our main seed order went off today. As I order for a group of us on our site I have to be a bit disciplined.

    1. Hi sue, that's nice you order for a group from the site. Our new allotment association has started to do joint orders with big discounts but the company they use doesn't have that many organic varities so I've decided to carry on with my own. (I do order for a couple of friends as well but they don't need much this year so is quite simple for me! They're having melon seeds which is quite exciting though. They have a really good greenhouse in their back garden (not that I'm jealous at all!)

  5. It will be really amazing if those tomato plants go onto produce fruit! I suppose it is hardly surprising that your squashes didn't store well, considering the incredibly wet conditions of recent weeks. Still disappointing though, because Butternuts normally keep for ages. Good job you noticed, and reacted so promptly to save what was save-able.

  6. Too bad about the squashes rotting. I lost a couple of mine that way in storage, but I couldn't salvage anything from them. And those tomatoes look amazing given the time of year! I have a few peppers I'm trying to overwinter myself, but no tomatoes.