Down on the Allotment

Matron grows vegetables and fruit in a Hampshire garden. I've been growing veggies since I was knee high to a grasshopper. Some traditional varieties and old favourites as well as new ideas. I share my garden with my allotment assistant Daisy the Labrador. On Twitter as @MatronsVeggies

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Finally, it's Matron's DOGBLOG!

Well here it is folks! Many, many thanks to all who sent me photos, especially to Skippy, Crispy, Sampson, Jake, Freddy, Luna, Kodi, Luckydog and Buddy for allowing their photos to be posted. Any others you might care to send me will be added to this blog.

This is Kodi, he is a 2 year old Maremma (look it up!) who lives in sub-tropical Queensland, Australia with Rhonda Gay, at My Little Patch. Kodi is enormous and is currently working towards a PhD in goat-herding. Let's hope he's not lonely, high up on that hill... (think about it)

This is Skippy. He is a Portugese Water Dog who hangs out in Skippy's Garden in Massachusetts in the good ole US of A. Skippy actually has a blog named after him. Here he is digging potatoes! Now wouldn't it be cool if someone could teach him to use a fork?

This is Luckydog. She is 13yrs old and she lives with Scarecrow down under in OZ. These days she pretends to be a little deaf, but has a 'supernose' her hobbies include sniffing and snoozing. Goodonya Luckydog!!

This is Luna. She lives with Scrappybadger. Luna doesn't care for any dirty work down in the garden, instead she prefers to be the 'comic relief'. Who could resist those eyes?

This is Freddy. He lives with Lilymarlene on the Isle of Wight. Now this is my idea of a smart dog! We could all learn a lesson from Freddie.. After all your hard work digging and planting, don't forget to lie back in comfort on your favourite chair and enjoy just looking at your garden.

This is Jake. He lives with Katie in California at Gardenpunks. What a handsome fellow he is! Jake is clearly the leader of the pack, he is a wonderful guard dog (when he isn't trampling over Katie's pumpkins!) Hey Jake! Where's your surfboard - dude?

This is Sampson (left) and his Sister Crispy. These doggies live in Austria with Sarah . They had been hard at work helping with the building of a raised bed in the garden, but just had to take a quick nap.

Well finally, here is the chap who inspired me! This is my Buddy. 11 years old and a rescue dog from Battersea Dogs Home here in London. He is as smart as they come. His hobbies include walking and hunting for pieces of cheese. His favourite food is sardines!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Cross-Pollination in Squashes

One of the varieties of vegetables that easily cross-pollinates, is the pumpkin and squash family. If you have planted several varieties close together in one patch, you will probably find that it does not always resemble what you saw on the seed packet! This photo is a good example of one of my later butternut squash. The first squash I picked earlier in the Summer was a wonderful butternut beige colour. This had obviously been pollinated by male flowers on the same plant. This one pictured is from the same plant, but you can see the stripey markings indicating to me that the insect which pollinated this female flower may have hopped over from ... perhaps a nearby courgette flower. I will await to find out if the flesh is orange or white!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Tomatillo Salsa

I picked my first crop of Tomatillo today. These are a vegetable which are commonly used in Mexican cooking, most often to make salsa:

1lb green tomatillos, 4 chillies, 1 clove garlic, 1 tsp salt, black pepper, 3 spring onions, 1 bunch parsley.

Remove the husk from the tomatillos and wash thoroughly. Boil them in a pan of water until soft and drain them. Allow to cool, then place all ingredients and chop in a blender, leaving a few chunks. Allow to refrigerate for several hours.

Still plenty of time for anyone to contribute to my forthcoming DOGBLOG on or around 20th August. I will be posting a special blog dedicated to our canine friends who supervise, assist or guard our gardens, water our veggies, carry our trowells, chew our flowerpots. See blog on 5th August for details. If you know of any garden blogger who might like to enter, please let them know.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Purple Hyacinth Beans

This year, among my many varieties of climbing beans I am growing 'Purple Hyacinth Beans'. In true Matron fashion, I 'liberated' some seeds last Autumn from a garden in Virginia. Actually this picture was taken there last Autumn. My plants this year are growing well amongst the other runner beans, they appear to have an attractive purple veined leaf, I think they will be a late variety. There are signs of the beautiful purple flower buds, which I will be sure to post on the blog when they arrive. The question I want answered is..... are they edible? I've looked up several blog sites, many people have eaten them without incident (after all they are beans), but the colour is alarming. Having said that, my Vitelotte potatoes were an alarming purple colour and they didn't kill me !!... Does anyone know if they are edible?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


Now is the time of year when all the ingredients for this lovely, Summer pickle are in season.
3 pints white vinegar
3 teaspoons ground ginger
6 teaspoons mustard powder
9oz sugar
6lbs chopped, beans, carrots, cauliflower, courgette, small onions, soaked in brine overnight.
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon turmeric.

Mix the vinegar, ginger, mustard and sugar and boil up to a syrup. Add 6 lbs of vegetables cut into about 1 inch sizes, depending on how you like your pickle. Boil the vegetables in the vinegar syrup for 20 minutes. Drain these vegetables and pack into warm sterilized jars. Set aside the vinegar syrup. Mix together the flour and turmeric into a paste with some cold water and gradually add the hot vinegar. Boil this for 3 minutes until it thickens slightly. Pour this over the veggies in the jars and tap out all the air bubbles. Seal the jars while still hot.