It looks pretty dreary on the plots, and these days the only person I see at the allotment is an elderly man who likes to walk his dog around the perimeter path. But there’s still stuff to harvest – parsnips, carrots, leeks, kale, perpetual spinach, Swiss chard, purple sprouting, and in the polytunnel lettuce and various Chinese mustards. There are also 8 compost heaps to turn or add to, and now is the season for collecting leaves to make leaf mould. I’ve filled three new bins with leaves from the wood, and last autumn’s caches are beginning to rot down nicely; I’m hoping they’ll be ready for spring sowing. So despite these gloomy looks – all is filled with new possibilities.
Well I simply couldn’t miss taking part in Yvette’s inaugural Friday food challenge over at Powerhouse Blog. So here you have them, my favourite beans, caught at the allotment in a sunset glow. Not that they need external aids to enhance their beanificent beauty. Not for nothing do the Italians call them: Borlotto Lingua di Fuoco – Fire Tongue.
I love everything about them. I love growing them. I love the way their pods change colour through the summer – from green to deep claret. Then, as picking time draws near, the leaves turn yellow, and start to fall, revealing hanging rows of glowing pods.
But the best bit is shelling them. You never know what colour they will turn out – pea green, cream with pink speckles or claret with creamy streaks. Every bean is different.
I usually freeze them freshly podded, or you can dry them. Freezing means they are quick to cook, and you don’t need to do the overnight soaking necessary for dried beans. They are highly nutritious, mineral and fibre-rich, and can be used in soups, or to make baked beans. I use them mostly in re-fried bean dishes. This simply involves mashing up a batch of cooked beans with fried onion, garlic, and a few chopped tomatoes, then adding seasoning, chopped parsley or coriander, plus spices of choice (I use chilli and cumin), turning all into a shallow, heatproof dish, topping with cheese, and putting under the grill for 10 or 15 minutes. We eat this by itself with a salad, or as a side dish with just about anything savoury. A poached egg on top would also be good.
You can find out how to grow borlotti beans HERE. Then pop over to Yvette’s for more vegetable offerings:
copyright 2016 Tish Farrell
Readers who have been visiting my Edge for a while will know that at Christmas I mourned the loss of my Kodak EasyShare point-and-shoot. It died on a beach in Anglesey, and its last image was of me peering into the lens, though I’m not sure what good I thought that would do. Anyway Santa Graham had bought me a Lumix replacement, so I wasn’t without a camera for long, and I was quickly enamoured of its dynamic monochrome facility.
But then some people are never satisfied. And the thing was, not to be ungrateful, I still missed my Kodak. And since the Kodak company is no more, this led to a little trawl on Ebay, and the purchase of a rehabilitated, slightly upgraded version of my original digital (more zoom), and all for the princely sum of £17.50. It is thus the camera I mostly take to the allotment, because you never do know when you might want to snap the portrait of an especially fine cauliflower, or record progress of the lettuce in the polytunnel. (I am not joking. Just you wait).
But first things first. The butterfly. This was spotted yesterday in the corner of field between our house and the allotment. I was carrying a big blue IKEA shopping bag of kitchen waste for the compost heap and a bunch of 6 foot bean poles, and it was very windy. Nonetheless, despite all these handicaps, trusty Kodak captured this gorgeous, if tiny, Common Blue butterfly. In real life it is probably less than half the size of the first photo image. You can see it more in context of this next shot. It is about 1”/2.5 cm across:
See how wonderfully it posed, and with great gusts of wind too. Here’s a shot with breezy blast thrown in:
I thus dedicate this post to blogging chum, Ark, at A Tale Unfolds. In his Leading you up the garden path posts, he has been treating us (among other things) to dramatic entomological scenes of ambush and slaughter inside a yellow gazania; and all from his garden in Johannesburg. At different times he has also captured some splendid shots of butterflies, birds, more spiders and several praying mantis. He apparently does this while roaming his domain with a mug of coffee in one hand. For some reason this makes me think of the Mad Hatter, though I don’t think he wears a hat, and certainly not a topper. Or do you, Ark?
And now to conclude this inaugural series of to-and-from-the-allotment, here are some more dandelion clocks (broken and intact) because I’ve decided to consider them wonderful instead of a curse on my plot:
and followed by the cauliflower, which is what I really wanted to show you all along, and is also a thing of beauty, produced on my plot without pesticides, but overwintered under enviromesh. And just to boast, it was at least twice the size of the photo, and tasted delicious with kamut pasta in a goat’s cheese, parsley and onion sauce. And no, I do not do takeaways. Sorry. Though I do share excess, uncooked veggies, but you need to come to Much Wenlock to get them.
copyright 2015 Tish Farrell
There are different kinds of achievement in this shot. The first is that I managed to capture it at all, teetering in a flower bed with my Kodak Easyshare. The sun was full on too so I could not see the camera screen. But by far the biggest achievement is the presence of three bumble bees all at once.
All over the world bee numbers have been declining. Swarms in the US have been especially hit. Over the last few decades many factors have played a part, including habitat erosion, lack of quality forage and disease. But in 2006 honey bee keepers began to report dramatic losses. It involved the deaths of whole hives and has been dubbed colony collapse disorder.
Environmentalists believe the cause to be the neonicotinoids in the new generation of pesticides. They want them banned until unbiased research proves otherwise. It is a sobering thought that without bees to pollinate fruit and vegetables, the US would be left with only three staples that do not require insect pollination: wheat, rice and corn.
To find out more, please visit Dear Kitty. Some Blog. She has posted a good video that covers this topic. In the meantime, everyone needs to think about what they can do to encourage bees, including growing some bee-friendly plants. We also need to be prepared to pay a little more for organic produce, or to do what we can to grow our own food, WITHOUT chemicals.
This would be a real achievement – not only good for bees, but for us, the soil, and other wildlife besides.
copyright 2014 Tish Farrell