Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Jerusalem Artichoke

Another of our veg box offerings, the peculiar Jerusalem Artichoke - or nobbly, plasticky lump - didn't go down well at first. We boiled it first time round, and it went all sloppy and horrible. So I, on pain of stuffing parsnips up my nose, swore I'd never have it again.

But then the lovely Asha, well-known for growing the stuff, persuaded us to try it again. I must admit that I've noticed so many bloggers growing it in their plots and having time for the vegetable, but I didn't hold out much hope.

So, when a batch arrived once more in our box, we lightly fried it - thinly sliced like thick crisps - and now I'm absolutely smitten. Maybe I'm missing the point. I mean, all veg - even beetroot (and, can I say it... yes... no... yes... bru****s sp****s) - tastes wonderful this way. But if I can now add another vegetable to my list of dinner party 'yes please's, then it's got to be a good thing.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

That shady figure in the background

As I very rarely mention the great work achieved by Katie in the garden, particularly in the realms of flowers, shrubs, and heavy maintenance, it seems fitting to dedicate a post to her. Her handiwork is not confined to the rough boundary of the garden either. Highlights include crocheted hats (I, of course provide my head as a dummy), and granny squares. Oh, and the odd bit of writing.

So when I say in future (fingers crossed) that the flowers at Anything but Sprouts have been successful, what I'm really saying is that Katie has done exceptionally well.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Dig, dug, dugged

This saturday was spent digging the lawn. Or rather the newly expanded plot that's now almost twice the size. It felt good to get active in the garden again, but I'd forgotten the aches and pains that come hand in hand with digging. Occasional badminton just doesn't prepare you for hard slog. It does give you a keen eye for incoming missiles and birds though, and, just like last year, the robins were out helping me.

It was actually a day for a double dose of excitement as some seeds arrived in the post - dahlias, echinacea and assorted veg. I've decided to make a bit of an effort with flowers as well as the veg this year. I think looking at the Great Vegetable Plot by Sarah Raven, which seems to have been a popular xmas present for many bloggers (particularly at MTP), has made me realise how lovely my little bit of garden could be. I try growing flowers most years with little success - with the exception of sweet peas - but I'll give it yet another go.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Classification of fruit

Despite having a fruit and veg box from abel & cole, you don't always get all you need. And I seem to need a lot of oranges at the minute, so I bought some organic beauties. It was only then that i saw they were Class II quality. I've never paid much attention to this before (my dad moaning about the quality of the veg in his supermarket aside), but i thought I'd have a look as to what this meant.

On the Defra website, here it states that all citrus fruit must meet minimum requirements (too many to mention here). For a Class I citrus fruit it has to meet other standards as well:

Citrus fruit in this class must be of good quality. They must be characteristic of the variety and/or commercial type.
The following slight defects, however, may be allowed provided these do not affect the general appearance of the produce, the quality, the keeping quality and presentation in the package:
- slight defect in shape
- slight defect in colouring
- slight skin defects occurring during the formation of the fruit, such as silver scurfs, russets, etc

Now for the point of this post. The oranges I bought look lovely, proper oranges, but for these to be Class II, they must have been considered more defective than 'slight'. Is this a problem that all organic produce has to face? And if so, will it ever change? Does Class II mean the produce is worth less to the grower, as I imagine a lott of it doesn't come out looking perfect? If so, is it inhibiting farmers growing organic produce due to reduced profit? Anyone know?

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

And so it begins again...

It's amazing that a year has passed since I started up this blog. Great to be heading back into the year with a small amount of knowledge gained and i'll hopefully be able to put it to some use.

It's interesting seeing the cycle start up again. I've bought seeds and manure once more, (funny how there was no stigma attached to it this year - just a whiffy smell) and I've even decided to go crazy and expand my plot to twice the size and make two beds (they still won't be much compared to a normal allotment plot though). I have the space, however, and now all i need is the strength to dig it - I'm dreading pulling up the second half of the iron bed I found last year. Once again I'll be hoping to uncover a Roman fort.

Maintaining the Time Team theme, I've even come to the conclusion that, like my early forefathers, I shall be building some minor earthworks by raising the beds slightly. No Beaker pots or stone monuments, just little bumps. I'm also quite excited about laying some weed repelling sheet down and creating a little path between the beds. (Why do I find this so much more exciting than the prospect of tiling my bathroom?)

So it's all go once more. I'm swearing under oath that I won't grow sprouts again, but who can say what will happen.

Roll on Spring!