Slow painting

Sunday 28 February 2010

Beginning, middle and end

The first spears of the autumn-planted garlic mark the beginning of the allotment year for me. The autumn variety needs frost to get going, so I'm hoping for a bumper crop from this frosty winter.

In the middle are the autumn-planted Japanese onions, standing like troopers through all the frost and snow. I think I'm meant to be feeding them around now to kick start further growth, but I have no allotment time for the next couple of weeks. Let's hope they realise they're in Scotland and still have a bit of the winter left.

And coming to an end are the Red Duke of York potatoes which we didn't have time to lift in the autumn, and have taken a chance with leaving in the ground. Amazingly they're mostly unaffected by the frost, with only one bad tuber in every three or so shaws, and a good yield all round.

Right at the end, in terms of having had it, is the red clover sown in the summer as green manure. Time to dig it in now. It's suppressed the weeds beautifully, and I'll use it again in preference to field beans which allowed weed growth and were then a pain to dig in.

Thursday 4 February 2010


Cold February days are for dreaming of things growing. And who better to set you dreaming than Nigel Slater. "Just listen to this", he writes. "... a supper of golden pumpkin with a crisp crumb-crust flecked with parsley and garlic; a dish of emerald cabbage leaves with shards of sizzling ginger; a crumbling soft-pastried tart of leeks, cream and cheese; a bright carrot chutney on a mound of ivory-coloured rice to make your lips prickle."

Thank you, family, for my Christmas present.