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March 20, 2011 / stevembca

Getting ready for spring

Although February and the first half of March were quite cold, we started a few important jobs:

Franck and Simon built staging for the greenhouse,

Mike put in the orchard (pictures to follow on a later post) and continued to build compost bins.






This one was a joint effort, cleverly hidden behind a plum tree, for reasons we can’t quite recall

Meanwhile,  others started off the years crop indoors – such as broad beans soaked for a week then sown in crates in cardboard tubes….

….then planted out in late February

Our  long awaited Purple Sprouting started producing purple buds in late feb, about a month late thanks to the cold december. They did get better than this honest, this was just the first bud….






We also put in Jerusalem artichokes, to provide the village with unlimited wind power

The garlic’s looking good








We also put in lots of fruit bushes of various types along the wall.







Bring on the warm weather….

February 10, 2011 / stevembca

What’s still edible as winter ends?

It’s one of those days when you hang around indoors kicking the walls, waiting for the rain to stop so you can get outside. Finally it stopped at 4 so I stuck gloves and a camera in my pockets, reclaimed half a dozen gooseberry and blackcurrant bushes en route, and trudged down to the community allotment garden. I really wanted to see the new trees but we’ll save that one for another post.

What is there to pick for dinner?

Surprisingly, there’s still a few sprouts.. the snow in december meant few were picked for christmas. Had some tonight, still tasty.

Then there’s the sprout tops, like little individual cabbages…

Also there’s plenty of kale in good condition….

I was hoping for some purple sprouting broccoli. It has recovered from the frosts and snow but still smelly and no purple flower buds yet, sadly….

There’s still some leeks but we’ve eaten all the parsnips.


They were quite big – Guernsey, I think they were, some smaller ones would be better next year…or maybe our soil was just too fertile!

Lastly, in the polytunnel, there’s still loads of salad. Picking fresh salad leaves  when the polytunnel was covered in snow in december was very satisfying.  If we can grow salad in the coldest winter for 100 years, just think how much more we can grow in a normal winter….whatever that is!

Meanwhile, this year’s tomatoes and peppers  are already a couple of inches high, indoors, and the aubergines are hopefully germinating as we speak…

October 11, 2010 / stevembca

potato harvest

Our first year has been a resounding success , but there has  been an unexpected problem – getting the produce picked, harvested and taken away for eating.

Most of our veg has been picked and taken by whoever wanted it at the time, a delightfully unregulated friendly free for all which confounded the predictions of the pessimists in the village. We did agree though to harvest the potatoes togther, on two separate days. The first harvest was of the (not very)earlies, at the end of august.

Those not taken away on the day were put in the polytunnel to dry for a few days whilst they awaited collection … sadly quite a number were never collected for whatever reason and turned green. Oops!  When we harvest the main crop, we will remember to protect them from the light.

Anyway when we harvested the main crop and found a different problem: they are full of little holes.

Potato Cyst Eeelworm presumably…the scourge of newly cultivated ground, I seem to remember.

October 10, 2010 / stevembca

Maiden Bradley Village Fete – August 28th

Our contribution to this major cultural event is worth recording for posterity: the Community Allotment Scarecrow Competition. A fair and democratic vote was held, by giving out a voting slip with every programme.

August 3, 2010 / stevembca

Allotment Open day

…or the party on the plot!

We threw open the gates on Sunday 1st August and invited the whole village, and our friends, to come and see how successful our communal growing scheme has been in its first season.

We had folk ballads wafting across the garden thanks to Gordon, Steve. Jules and others. Cakes and savouries, tea and cider were sold from the ‘Spot on the Plot’ Cafe,  and then we had the ‘Two Mikes’ on the  barbies. Many thanks to Roy and Kate from the Somerset Arms for their generosity, especially the stunning rump steaks from Stourhead, which we cut up and took round so everyone could try it. Steak night in the pub on Thursday anyone?

Special thanks also to Diana for the straw bales.

There were tours of the newly signed beds, both guided and unguided, with visitors from as far away as Fordingbridge.

Also this weekend, at last, we have a cover on our polytunnnel frame!

Not quite finished but nearly there, and some of the plants from the overcrowded greenhouse have already moved in.

So – an amazingly successful weekend, in which we had loads of fun, raised loads of money to help the village shop, and showed our neighbours what we have been up to behind those walls.  At its height there were over 80 people present, and one local resident said ‘ this is what the village used to be like 50 years ago’

July 31, 2010 / stevembca


Vegglut is a mediaeval english word meaning excessive quantity of vegetables.

When we started the community allotment, some in the  village warned that harvest time would be when the project would fail, predicting we would argue greedily about our share of the produce.

I am pleased to report that the opposite is true – it is proving hard to get the stuff picked. This morning I picked around 20 courgettes and a carrier bag of beans, and gave them to the village shop for them to sell, hopefully, to the few people in the area without a fridge full of them already. We also have loads of peas, radishes, lettuces, cabbages, broad beans, spuds, beetroot…and the maizin mangel wurzel.

There is still far more produce there than we can get through…fortunately tomorrow is the community allotment open day so we plan to position baskets of free veg strategically so we can offload various amusingly shaped vegetables on all and sundry.

July 25, 2010 / stevembca

July 2010: rain at last, and lots to pick and eat

Forget the hose and watering can, get the basket and snippers! Courgettes in full swing, radishes, more mangetout that we can mange, and cucumbers and tomatoes in the greenhouse.

Interestingly, we have far more courgettes that we planned, partly because the pumpkins turned out to be yellow courgettes, and we forgot that there was another bed of courgettes in a lower bed.

These are winter festival squash, very healthy and fruits just forming.

The summer cabbages have hearted up well and are ready for eating…..

They were covered with mesh once planted out so no caterpillar damage….

Purple podded peas – pods purporting to be mangetout picked prematurely byimpatient plot people but once allowed to fatten up they are divinely sweet.

Perfect fat specimens of beetroot! Just had some in a sandwich for lunch. Delicious!

Look at that. Not spinach, though the leaves can be eaten and some were. not a big fat carrot either – a mangel wurzel, from the Heritage seed library. Like a beetroot, apparently the word is mediaeval and means ‘root shortage’ We parboiled then roasted them, and now they’re a favourite – like a cross between a sweet potato and beetroot.

I’ve never seen this before  – some of our Cara potatoes have fruited – like tomatoes, to which they are of course related. Not sure why yet.

The tubers were delicious.

Parsnips are looking good after a bit of rough weeding, these were module grown as seen on sustainable garden blog

The sprouts, above, are now uncovered after two months under the mesh.

As the end of July approaches, we are busy preparing for our Open Day – to welcome all the village into the walled garden to see what we have done. There’s a folk band, drinks, cake and a barbie. I wonder if we can get the shed and polytunnel finished by then?