Landshare/Daveshare

Landshare is an exciting new project with some 4iP funding behind it. Or at least I think it has 4iP funding. It certainly is 4iP in feel as explained by Adam Gee on the 4ip website.

But anyway – I think it’s a cracking idea. It connects people who want to grow stuff with people who have land to grow it on. You can also be a ‘landspotter’ – someone who knows where there is unproductive land laying fallow that could be utilised for growing food. That’s a bit like the thinking around Feastside – an idea I’d love to see kick off again (and would try to actually get to the meetings this time). Or you can be a ‘facilitator’ – someone who just wants to muck in.

I think it’s more aimed at bigger land owners rather than someone like me, an allotment holder with a plot just a bit too big for family feeding needs. I’ve registered anyway, along with 200 other ‘landowners’ from the West Midlands, so when the site launches in spring we’ll see what happens.

Actually, we could just circumvent all that and you’re more than welcome to a patch of my allotment right now. There’s a slight catch in that the back half of it is almost completely covered in brambles. But if you fancy helping me clear it then you’re welcome to a bit of it to grow some spuds or whatever. We’ll call it Daveshare.

No really, help me clear it and I’ll introduce you to the wonder of grow-your-own. It’s in Bournville, on the number 11 route. 


Really overgrown bit at the back of this photo. It’s much worse than the pic suggests but not insurmountable. I’ve cleared about a quarter of it already.

Doctors stays!

I should read press releases properly before I add them to my links. In the ‘Beyond the M25’ BBC announcement there was in fact some half-decent news for Birmingham. It had been rumoured around these parts for a while that Selly Oak produced daytime drama Doctors was either for the chop or would go to Manchester.

Why do I care about this? Well there’s the general prinicple of Birmingham having a bouyant BBC outpost with plenty of work to be getting on with and therefore jobs for local creatives. Indeed there are many former students from my time as a lecturer that still work on Doctors. Also, local film director type Justin Edgar has worked on it, as has BAFTA winner Natasha Carlish. It’s good bread and butter work that can persuade talented people to stay put in Brum.

But the real reason is that Doctors never strays more than a couple of miles from its base in the grounds of Birmingham University for its location filming. After a leaflet came through our front door 18 months ago looking to use homes to film in, we leapt at the chance. They filmed twice and almost came a third time with a storyline line involving a local lothario with a mistress stashed away in the houses on either side. I think the neighbours said no to that one. Of course they do pay a modest fee, which is what I’m getting at. They’re bound to come back again – another three years of Doctors in Brum will do me nicely.

The other news for BBC Birmingham is linked to my other interest, gardening:

“Birmingham will now take on production of the Chelsea and Hampton Court Flower Shows, thus becoming the centre for horticulture programming, as well as Factual and Drama – recent titles include Coast and Trawler Men, as well as the long-running daytime drama Doctors, which has been re-commissioned for a further three years.”

Did it rain while I was away?

Back from 10 days away to find the plot not starved of water and wilting, as I’d feared, but flourishing and bountiful and generally gone kinda crazy. I guess it rained in Birmingham while we were away.

August Harvest

The courgettes were half-way to marrows and there were 4 cauliflowers ready to pull. Before we left they had tiny heads on them but now had almost gone too far. Already had one in a potato and cauliflower curry. A couple of the lettuces were close to going to seed so we pulled them and are working our way through lettuce based sandwiches and salad in order to get through it. Runner beans aplenty of course but also some lovely succulent peas – mmmm.

I pulled a few main crop potatoes just to see how they were doing. Quite well as it happens. I need to learn how to store them properly when I pull the lot as we’ve about 4 rows of them (that equals a lot of spuds)

At the back of the plot the blackberries are coming in – again, lots of. I might try to learn to make jam.

Rhubarb

A comment by Annette reminds me that I was going to do a post extolling the virtues of Rhubarb having previously not seen the point of it. The picking season for rhubarb is more or less at an end so I won’t do so in detail other than to say that my mind was changed by a couple of great recipes for it:

A great rhubarb and apple crumble by Tom Parker-Bowles.

An amazing rhubarb cake I found on a blog

Both recipes use fresh ginger which give them a distinctive taste – don’t be tempted to skimp on this. The cake is really the killer recipe. I used half light brown sugar + half molasses rather than muscovado sugar as specified but only because I didn’t have any of the latter in the house. There’s lovely moistness to the cake – really rather good.

The Daily Good Life

Led by Lucy at the Smallest Smallholding a group of allotment/small-holding bloggers have got together to create a Youtube channel about our attempts to live off the land to various degrees (in my case living off the land amounts to eating lots of rhubarb and new potatoes). I’m one of them despite or maybe because of my newcomer status. The channel will take a while to get populated but I’ve done my ‘intro’ video which is on my own channel and then play-listed on the Daily Good Life.

BTW – this is my first attempt at home-movie making. The camera was a present for my 40th birthday at the weekend. It’s a Canon MD235 – I’m sticking with DV tape for the meantime, great quality for under £200 vs paying £500+ for same quality as a hard disk cam. 

Allotment Plot update – June 2008

Time for an update on how our growing is going. I thought I’d start off by a quick explanation about the real reason we’ve become such keen gardeners. Our plot is a mere 215 feet from the house. If it wasn’t for that fact we wouldn’t pay it half as much attention.

So in late June our plot is beginning to mature nicely. I’ve already mentioned our lovely new spuds – lots more to come there as I’ve dug up only about a fifth of the plants. Despite picking lots and lots of rhubarb there’s still some to go. I did bake an apple and rhubarb crumble which was nice (touch of ginger and cinnamon) so I’ll make use of the last of the season’s pickings soon.

Runner beans are coming along nicely and flowering although the peas seem a little stunted. A neighbouring tenant gave me some leeks from France which are in the ground and haven’t died – a success by anyone’s standards. I stole some sweetcorn seeds from my neighbouring tenant (he offered me a some seeds to sow and I put the whole packet in – not what he meant, sorry) and they’ve come through but it’s very late to be planting these so I’m not even sure they’ll be big enough to pick come autumn.

runner beans leeks sweetcorn 

We’ve now got lots of lettuce of many varieties. Both on the patio and on the plot itself. There’s not a single slug chomp on any of them and they taste delicious. On a fun side note, we have decided to update our stone patio design next year so that we can have even more veggies at our door.

Lettuces

Finally, our cauliflowers are blooming (no heads yet though), some cabbages are in, our onions aren’t too far away from coming up and I’ve got tons of main crop potatoes for harvesting at the end of the summer (so many that they’ll no doubt be a give-away of those so get your orders in). Oh and we’ve got a couple of pumpkins on the go as well.

The plot itself still needs a tidy-up at the front and the back half of it is still completely overgrown although there are raspberries and redcurrants there for the picking.

mmm pie

Many many thanks to Sue (partner of Tony from Bournville Harriers) for this pie. She took the rhubarb from our allotment plot and made something extraordinary with it. A quite delicious apple and rhubarb pie. This is a before pic:
mmm pie

And this is the after pic:

mmm pie after

As I say, thanks Sue.