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

Monday, April 30, 2012

Pumpkin Pie

 So here is the last of my Queensland Blue squash.  Sieved and drained overnight to allow excess moisture to drip out.
 I have used the same recipe which was cut out of a newspaper about 40 years ago!  You can tell how old it is because the liquid measurements in the recipe are for gills.  One gill = about 5oz.  I like to think of it as the size of a single yoghurt pot.
 The mixture does look really thin and watery, but if you put enough eggs in, and my own secret ingredient of a desert spoon of flour to give it a better texture when cooked.
 Then you end up with a pumpkin pie!  It's still cooling so will be eaten tomorrow.
Meanwhile on the veg patch, the sun was shining today for the first time in weeks.  I went to the greenhouse (actually I waded) and planted my precious Paton Twins Giant Pumpkin.  Special seed from a UK award winning giant pumpkin of over 1200 pounds!  I'm preparing a special pumpkin bed as we speak.  Take your marks, get set..... go! 

Sunday, April 29, 2012


 It has been raining almost non stop for the last week or so down on Matron's plot.  Everything is growing and growing and the rhubarb is in seventh heaven.  The trouble is that it's flooded and I can't get down to the greenhouse to plant my pumpkin and squash seeds.

Well, everything has come full circle and I cut up my last Queensland Blue squash today.  These fantastic Winter squash have lasted right through the Winter just sat on a table in the living room.  I noticed just a bit of deterioration at the base so decided it was time to use it. 
 Sunday lunch, with oven roasted Queensland Blue squash!  IN APRIL!  what a keeper!
Meanwhile, Leo was so tired after licking the gravy off our plates that he lay on the sofa and went to sleep!

He thanks you all for your best wishes.  He is making excellent progress!  Had a little lump removed and still has stitches in.  Blood tests showed us that he is an amazingly healthy dog!  The vet also complimented him on his trim waistline!  Stitches out on Friday!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Labrador with a Lampshade

I don't think Leo will forgive me for making him miss breakfast yesterday morning! You should have seen the dirty look he gave me! He had a little lump removed, Labradors are notoriously prone to being lumpy. He was quite wobbly yesterday evening but woke up this morning much better and woolfed down a hearty breakfast. All systems heading back to normal, apart from the dreaded lampshade on his head!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Grow Your Own!

I've just been down the garden in the rain and picked a handful of Purple Sprouting Broccoli for lunch. Salmon pie is in the oven, you just can't beat growing your own!
PS. Leo is at the vet today, having an operation.  Will post picture with obligatory lampshade on his head when he comes home!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Words of Advice

My rhubarb has just taken off in the last few weeks. Warm days and bright sunshine have brought it on a treat. Just a few days of rain have really made it smile.
.... that and the extra bit of 'nitrogen feed' that comes down that end of the garden each morning!
The garden is starting to produce at last. This Purple Sprouting Broccoli made it through the Winter despite a covering of snow and a sustained pigeon attack in early Spring.
But the tomato seedlings are still tucked up in a heated propagator in the greenhouse at night. Despite some lovely warm, sunny days the nights have been well below zero.
A well known gardening proverb seems to be good advice, "Ne'er cast a clout till May be out" in other words, don't put your pieces of horticultural fleece back in the garden shed just yet because you may experience a late frost right up until the end of May.
If you don't take this advice, then you may suffer a few losses as I have here. The tomato plants nearest the greenhouse door caught a frost a few nights ago while I was tucked up inside with my hot water bottle!
The canny Scots know a thing or two about hardy plants. These pot leeks 'Cairngorm' are coming along nicely. I've potted them on and they are just spending a few more nights uncovered in the greenhouse to find their feet. They should be fine to be hardened off soon. I have not grown pot leeks before. These are a shorter length with a very wide shaft, compared to the blanch leeks which have much more length but not so much girth. Matron is of the firm opinion that it is what you do with them that counts....ooooh Matron!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Dogs on Blogs

I've just come back from a short trip up to Lincolnshire. I was staying just a few minutes' drive away from a long-time blogger friend John and the wonderful Bobby from Midmarsh Jottings.
Bobby is getting on in years now, but despite creaky knees we all managed to hop into the garden to preserve the moment for posterity.
A welcoming chat and a cup of tea from John, and a bag of goodies to take home from Bobby!
Upon inspection of the article when we arrived home...
The jerky treats were snapped up in a frenzied shark attack! This photo reminds me of how the third eyelid of a shark closes when it attacks its prey! They were a big hit! Thank you Bobby!

Thursday, April 05, 2012


Today I pulled the first few stalks of my rhubarb.
This early in the season the rhubarb is sweeter, more tender and contains more water. When you cut it you will not find any strings at all. It really does not need much sugar either.
So this little lot was chopped up, one spoon of sugar and straight into the microwave ... and eaten straight away! Fantastic!

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Potting Up!

Well Spring is springing up everywhere!
My crabapple tree has blossom on every single twig throughout the whole tree!
I managed to do some potting up at the weekend. My tomato plants had got a bit bigger while I was away. I tried to pot them deeply, right up to the first set of seed leaves. About 3 inches of stalk below the ground will provide a bigger and more efficient root system.
I also potted up these 'Cairngorm' pot leeks. I've never grown pot leeks before, these are the very short, very fat leeks which are grown for show. Experience has told me that most often the giant type veggies usually have less taste than the smaller ones. Only trying them will see.
Plum tree is also covered in blossom. The honeybees must have been doing their bee dance when they got back to their hive for this one! Smothered in honey bees - wonderful!

Sunday, April 01, 2012

We still haven't had any rain to speak of here in London for several weeks now. It won't be long now before we get the dreaded hosepipe ban. Surprisingly, it looks like these giant Venetian snails are enjoying themselves down on my allotment!
I went out this morning and the plot was covered in them!
Munching into every fresh delicacy they could find.
They must have come over here hidden in my hand luggage.
These giant Venetian snails are more at home in the water sodden gardens of Venice.
Perhaps I should let DEFRA know of this exotic invasive species.
Before they munch their way through my entire garden.
Or perhaps if they eat enough of these garlic chives we could find another tastier solution!