Caught by the River

Allotment Watch: December

Nina Walsh | 30th December 2011

by Nina Walsh

It seems like there is something of a land grab going on up at the Gunsite right now and I am being squeezed from both ends. Apart from Mr B and his impenetrable fortress of a wall built from old chairs, plastic bags and what was once a hedgehog house, that is now blocking my pond access at one end, it appears my rod has exceeded it’s limit at the other. Both my compost heap and runner bean patch have now been repossessed. A committee decision, apparently, whereby all rods have been remeasured in order to create new plots to rent to the ever increasing waiting list. I wouldn’t have minded had I been informed of this first but it came as a bit of a shock on arriving late one evening to collect herbs for my dear friends coffin to rest upon whilst being carried to his funeral in the back of my Volvo estate. It was supposed to be a quite, reflective moment, that I had deliberately left till late in the day so as to avoid people or communication of any kind, so it is understandable that I was a tad upset on discovering my bean poles being dismantled and boundaries redefined. However, I had neither the energy nor the inclination to dispute it, as in the great scheme of things, it all seems pretty insignificant.
Season of good will indeed…….

On a more positive note, I have received much help getting my plot back in order and bedding it down for the winter. Thank you friends. Bringing in the re enforcements is always a great idea and, even those with unsuitable footwear managed to find their place in the kitchen truck providing music, hot drinks and little, fluffy pies to fuel the crew.

Top 10 Tips for 2012

1: Two litre clear, plastic bottles (top and bottom chopped off) with copper tape around the middle, are one of the best ways of keeping the slugs off your precious seedling beans. It also prevents uprooting them when hoeing the weeds and keeps the soil nice and warm as they begin to shoot. Feed the seedling through the middle of the bottle before planting and bury about 2cm into the soil.

2: Colloidal Silver is simply amazing for everything! Spray regularly onto tomato plants to keep the blight away and all kinds of fungus and mould can be zapped away in seconds. For gardening quality, it is also very cheap to make yourself and completely non toxic. However, I would not recommend using tap water or guess work for medicinal use as described in this video.

3: Mix 100ml of 3% Hydrogen Peroxide, 1 tablespoon of sugar & 300ml of water and spray directly onto plants to give most persistent bugs the heave-ho.

4: Plant a circle of garlic around the base of fruit trees to prevent root rot.

5: Banana skins, dug into the soil before and after planting fruit bushes and roses is a great way to get high quantities of calcium, magnesium, sulphur, phosphates, sodium and silica released.
6: Sow lots of colourful hardy annuals around the plot to attract pollinating insects (bees and bumble bees), and predator insects (hoverflies, wasps, and ladybirds). This will also make for a much more enjoyable place to relax.

7: Headphones, always, to avoid the chattering classes.

8: Orgonite. An allotment basic.

9: Two parts coconut oil, one part pure bee’s wax and a few drops of eucalyptus oil melted in a slow cooker provides one of the best salves for chapped hands and lips.

10: Never work too hard and always talk to your vegetables!

Homity Pie
One of the upsides of double digging and bedding down your spent potato patch for the winter is that you are bound to discover quite a few rogue spuds that managed to escape, what you thought was the final harvest. This is is a great way of using them up. It is actually a classic old English, Cranks recipe that I get asked for time and time again whenever I cook it.

300g Wholemeal shortcrust pastry
350g Potatoes
450g Onions
3 tbsp Oil
25g Butter
15g Chopped Parsley
100g Cheddar Cheese
2 Garlic cloves
1 tbsp Milk
Tomatoes to garnish
Salt & pepper to taste

Roll out the pastry and line a buttered, baking dish.
Boil or steam the potatoes until tender.
Chop the onions, then saute in the oil until really soft.
Combine the potatoes and onions.
Add the butter, parsley, 50g of the cheese, garlic, milk and season to taste.
Let the mixture cool, then use to fill the pastry case.
Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and sliced tomatoes.
Bake in the oven at 220c for 30 minutes, until golden.
When ready to serve, garnish with more chopped parsley.

Mrs Bun xx

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