Sunday, 12 September 2010

Allotment update: The harvest just got better

You may remember that back in May I got a call to say that my time had come  to become an allotmenteer after a lengthy wait on the waiting list.  I was offered a quarter plot which was just a little overgrown (see here) and since that day the allotment has come a long way.  Today's harvest was easily the best yet.


The Nero di Toscano has grown well alongside my other Brassica's, the Courgette's have been unstoppable (no surprise there then) and the beans have grown amazingly well this year.  I have eaten more beans than I think I've eaten in my whole life combined.  Some of my favourites have been Runner Bean 'St George' with its red and white flowers, Broad Bean 'Bunyard's Exhibition' and French Bean 'Purple Queen'.  The latter is an amazing bean that has gorgeous purple flowers and pods that are almost black .  Upon boiling the beans magically transform and become green as per your standard French Bean.  I couldn't help but think that if there is a way to get kids interested in vegetables and cooking then this little bean may have what it takes.  It certainly entertained me.


Besides the obvious vegetable excitement you may have noticed a new addition to the harvest?  That's right, one of my new girls laid an egg today and I'm hoping that the other two will follow suit shortly so that I can make something substantial. 
The Speckledy hen above is the one that is the most likely to have laid the first egg as she is supposed to lay brown speckled eggs, the Cotswold Legbar (the brown hen above with the great hair do) is likely to lay a blue/green egg and the Copper Black Marans below should lay quite a dark brown egg.  Only time will tell but I cannot convey how excited I was to find the first egg today!
The small but perfectly formed egg was put to good use and helped to make today's Yorkshire puddings (pictured below) and besides the obvious benefit of keeping hens I'm learning that they make for great company. They have great personalities, dispose of pretty much anything, including waste from the plot or from the kitchen and they are sure to increase the fertility of my compost.  
Gardening will definitely be more interesting from here on in and I'm looking forward to my first  omelette!

If you have any Chicken keeping tips please leave a comment below!

16 comments:

  1. Wow ! Ryan I have to confess that I haven't been visiting many blogs recently or even doing much posting on my own, SO I didn't know you had an allotment. Congratulations and well done on the great harvest. I am so jealous of the chickens, I would love to keep some but we are always going off somewhere, usually to stay with my son to spoil the grandchildren, and I know chickens need daily attention, so I have to get my fresh eggs from a local nursery. Where do you keep the chooks ???? they are lovely. I WANT SOME !!!!

    I will be back soon to see what else you are up to.

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  2. Hi Maureen, thanks for the comment.

    The girls live on my plot in their coop and run. I've always wanted hens and when I got the plot I asked the committee and they obliged! They do need daily attention but as the plot is nearby and on my way to work it's no problem at all.

    A few people want bees next so that should be quite exciting too!

    Ryan

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  3. I would love to keep bees but we're not allowed to with the deeds of our house. I hope you do start to keep bees Ryan someday it sure would make for some interesting reading.

    Glad you got your first egg - chooks sure do have great personalities. I follow a blog in the states called Curbstone Valley Farm and Clare is always writing about her chooks. She even has one named after Siegfred from All Creatures great and small. Ryan some day you must check out her Fowl on Friday posts and read all about Frodo. I think you would really enjoy reading them and seeing her videos as much as I do.


    Have a great week :) Rosie

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  4. Ryan you have made me very tempted by your post to have some of my own chickens. We are allowed to have them on our allotment site and two plot holders keep chickens already. Our warden is also a friend of mine and we both love eggs, so I might be able to persuade her to share the purchase, coop building and looking after them if we get some. I will let you know if we do decide to get any.

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  5. Thanks for that Rosie! Have added Curbstone Valley to my reader. It really does look like a very informative blog! If we get bees I'll definitely post about it. Can you imagine how it would improve our fruit and veg production?

    Maureen: You really should get a few chooks. I'm sure if your neighbours have chooks they would help you out if you were away for a few days? Let me know how you get on?

    Ryan

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  6. How fantastic to find your first egg, so exciting isn't it :-) They are fab pets aren't they!

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  7. No space in my back garden for hens - don't think they'd go down well with the neighbours anyway.
    Curious about your red and white St George beans - are these a full height variety or dwarf? We're growing Painted Lady, another red and white flowered type, for the first time this year after seeing them at Shugborough walled vegetable garden

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  8. Congratulations on your first egg Ryan! It's so much fun going out in the mornings and finding fresh eggs in the nest boxes, and then trying to figure out what egg-based dish to make next. I must say, those Yorkshire puds look glorious. A wonderful use for your first egg!

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  9. Thanks for the comments all.

    Scented Sweetpeas: They make excellent pets and are so much fun!

    Maryom: The beans are a standard height variety and appear to have fared better than many other beans on the site. They appear to be good growers, great foliage and excellent croppers!

    Curbstone Valley Farm: Thanks! I collected another two today so a cake is most definitely on the cards this week! Really enjoying reading your blog too.

    Ryan

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  10. What a great harvest Ryan especially your very first chucky egg. How long have you had the hens for? Isn't it great to be able to nip to the lottie at this time of year and come home with all sorts of goodies. I am lucky enough to have two kind lottie neighbours who sometimes give me eggs from their chickens. I supply their hens with comfrey leaves for fine dining so a great swap.

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  11. Hi Anna,

    I've had the hens for about three weeks or so now and they're just coming to egg laying age. The eggs really add to the output from the plot and will definitely come in handy.

    I'm the only one on the plot with chooks at the moment but I'm hoping a few others will follow. My girls love Comfrey too and they are also enjoying slugs and blackberries too.

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  12. Another great Ryan Success!
    They look fab birds and I am sure they will be very happy with you.
    Best Wishes
    R

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  13. Am trying not to be jealous of both your allotment and your chooks! Congrats on the harvest - I love 'Purple Queen' too, fortunately it grows well in a large pot. May your chickens lay many eggs and your plot flourish!

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  14. Thanks Robert! They seem to be very happy and they definitely add interest to the plot!

    Thank you for the good wishes Janet! I have wanted both a plot and chickens for years now and this year it all came together. Happy days!

    Ryan

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  15. Hi Ryan,

    Here's my tip - Chicken love rice (cooked or raw) so any excess will be pecked up. We often ask for a doggy bag from the local curry house should there be some rice left over.

    I look forward to reading more about them and when they're laying at their full potential perhaps we can talk about pickled egg recipes.

    Daniel

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  16. Hi Daniel,

    Thanks for the comment! Funnily enough I gave them rice on the weekend (left over from our chinese take away last week) and they adored it. In fact they sought out the rice especially out of the mix of leftovers I gave them.

    I've never actually eaten a pickled egg but I have to say I'm quite curious. Not entirely confident that I want to eat one but I'd give it a go!

    Ryan

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