The Allotment into its Fifteenth Month

Back in September 2012, Mister and I inherited our allotment. To mark this event, I wrote a haiku and posted this picture.

An old allotment
awaiting transformation.
Next year, fruit and veg.

Victor and Joshua: men to the ready
Victor and Joshua: men to the ready

And this was what it looked like the following Spring, with all the ground dug  and seeds planted.

Allotment: April (Year 1)

Followed by a bountiful summer of vegetables and a noticeable reduction in our food bills; although we didn’t have much fruit in the first year, apart from rhubarb. Below, is a picture of a typical weekly harvest in late summer.

AllotmentHarvestSeptember

September harvest.
Produce packed with goodness:
bounty of the earth.

And for anyone who hasn’t seen the picture of the giant marrow, here it is in all its glory (grown without fertilisers or artificial chemicals of any kind).
GiantMarrow

So far, on the vegetable front this year, we’ve had spinach, potatoes, globe artichokes, and lettuce. There would have been a greater variety of things but we lost a whole load of seedlings to slugs and snails, with us finally resorting to beer traps. Birds had a go at the seedlings, too, when they’d have been better employed pecking away at gastropods.

allotment June 14

Fruit-wise, we’ve had far greater success, with the usual rhubarb and a decent crop of huge, not-to-sour gooseberries, strawberries, and raspberries. In fact, for the last month, I’ve had strawberries or raspberries with my breakfast every morning and they’re so much tastier and sweeter than those sour shop-bought ones. Mister commented that he’d seen a small punnet of strawberries on sale for £3.00. From this, he concluded that we’ve paid for our allotment for the year from what we’ve saved by growing our own fruit.

  Gooseberries&StrawberriesRhubarb&GlobeArtichokes

Over the next couple of months, we’re expecting bumper harvests of all sorts of other goodies, so look out for regular allotment updates.

Allotment to Table: Artichokes on the Menu

IMG_20140603_143601

Oh, master of the allotment! See the pride on his face. The photograph below was the respectable one, taken after he’d settled down a bit and stopped behaving like a naughty schoolboy (they never grow up, do they?). The rude photo is going on Facebook for private viewing, where a degree of allotment banter already occurs.

Victor&Globe Artichokes

Until a fortnight ago, I’d never cooked or eaten globe artichokes. For anyone who’s never tried them, they’re worth the effort. First, cut off their stems level with the bottom of the globe. Second, trim the tips of each leaf as they’re a bit spiky and you don’t want to jab your lips or mouth with them when going through the strange artichoke eating ritual. Third, rinse them well before cooking, in case a snail has taken up residence under a leaf. Then put them in a large saucepan, cover them with water and boil for 30-45 minutes, depending on their size. I turn them upside down for the last 15 minutes, just to make sure they’re cooked properly all the way through.

BoilingArtichokes

Put a knob of butter on top of the artichoke and let it soak in. I’m salivating at the sight of this, but am too ladylike to let go of any bloodhound-type drool streamers; especially bearing in mind that globe artichokes are served in posh restaurants as an expensive hor d’oeuvre.  Some people prefer them served cold with vinaigrette, although I haven’t tried that version yet.

ArtichokesCooked

Wearing my scruffs, I peel off the leaves one-by-one, most daintily nibbling off the soft flesh near their bases. And a word of warning, don’t attempt to eat the hard part of the leaves but discard them in a side-bowl as you’d need to have teeth and a stomach like a goat to deal with them. Also, if you have long hair, tie it back or it will get butter all over it. As for Him Indoors, who’s sitting opposite me at the table, he mightn’t have long hair but he’s got himself in a right mess with butter all down his chin and his front.

ArtichokeEating

And lastly, when you’ve removed all the leaves, this is what you’ll find in the middle. THE ARTICHOKE HEART. Yes, it’s worthy of capital letters. Just remove the tiny hairy flower tips from the centre of the heart as they’re a bit scratchy to eat, then pick up your knife and fork to eat this last delight in measured bites, and … more capital letters required … SAVOUR THE FLAVOUR.

ArtichokeHeart