Sunday, 26 May 2013

revealed ... campaign to control creep crawlies

In mr digandweed's eyes, a piece of wood is an opportunity to make something, so when our anniversary arbour was delivered in a large wooden crate, there seemed endless possibilities for the leftover wooden packaging.
One plan being an idea to control the creepy crawlies that attacked my salad crops last year ( mainly flea beetle which left tiny holes all over the rocket).
Thursday's D.I.Y resulted in this -

A framework covered with netting to fit over one of the raised beds.
Sun and water allowed in BUT no bugs!
Fingers crossed that it works!


Thursday, 23 May 2013

the sound of sawing

....and hammering can be heard.
Mr digandweed is busy with a plan.
 All will be revealed soon.
Meanwhile, yesterday full of optimism ( and having checked the forecast ), I carefully transported these down to the allotment ...

...climbing French beans, butternut squash and celeriac plants,
which I then carefully planted in the prepared beds.
All was well.
But in the night we awoke to the sound of a huge thunder and hailstorm. Mounds of hail were still on the ground in the morning.
After a cup of tea to fortify myself, I rushed down to the allotment to inspect the damage. My little plants were battered but not done for!
Today has been a day of biting winds interspersed with more hail. Ah, the British summer!

Friday, 17 May 2013

my latest obsession

is held in this small bowl.


I've been nurturing it as carefully as a newborn baby.
Here it is-
a sourdough starter!

Made from a recipe in Paul Hollywood's Bread book.
I found the starter took much longer than the 3 days stated to really become active and bubbly, maybe because my kitchen was not at a constant 20-24c and my first loaf was a bit flat and disappointing.
But second time around was a big improvement.

I bought a banneton from Ebay which helps the dough keep its shape whilst rising and also gives the attractive markings on the finished loaf.



Saturday, 11 May 2013

fen blow

I hardly dare say it after last year's deluge (and I will whisper very quietly) - but we need rain.
Over the last few days we have had some very strong winds and down on the lottie yesterday the soil was dust dry. Raking the ground to prepare for seed sowing, I found I was creating my own mini fen blow and was being enveloped in clouds of dust.
In our garden, our favourite ornament- a beautiful, elegant heron, frequently found in the fen wetlands.
Fen blows are peculiar to this area and of particular concern to farmers. Several hundred years ago, before drainage started in the 17th century, the fens comprised areas of marsh and wetland. Throughout the wetlands, were small islands of higher ground where villages developed. Hence, many of the place names end in -ea being derived from a Saxon word meaning island.
Although drainage of the fens meant areas of very fertile peat were made available for farming there were downsides.
One of these was shrinkage of the peat. This is most startlingly obvious just down the road from us at Holme fen, where a post, sunk into the ground in 1852 until just level with the surface, now stands 4 metres above ground. This is also why roads around here are sometimes several feet above the surrounding fields!
The other problem is fen blows, when strong winds create clouds of dust , blowing soil and along with it precious seed, off the fields and depositing it elsewhere, which just lately has been all over our windows, window-sills and garden furniture!
But there are exciting plans for large scale restoration of the fens.
I have written about the Great Fen Project before here.
Although this is a long term project, many of the plans are in progress already and their website
is full of interesting information and well worth a visit.
Meanwhile, not on the allotment, but in our garden, some of the beautiful plants in bloom at the moment.
beautiful broom in bloom and ... 
Geum 'Cooky'.
(p. s, As I write the heavens have opened and there is a torrential downpour!)

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

very important visitors arrive chez fenland lottie

Last Saturday, after 24 days, 191 miles and 168 locks mister fudge and his crew arrived at their destination.

They came bearing gifts.
A belated but very special birthday present for mr digandweed.
A dibber handcrafted by the crew from a lovely piece of ash.
And a beautiful, original window for dancing-girl and her husband, restored by a friend and a lovely match for their front door.
After several days rest, mister fudge has set off on the return journey. Safe journey home mister fudge!