Advance notice …
Our annual Open Day will take place on Saturday September 29th from 12pm. As usual we’re holding it on Michaelmas Day, associated traditionally with the end of harvest and the beginning of autumn when rents are due, land is exchanged and hiring takes place. Add to that mix a celebration of the past year and all, with a little imagination, can apply to GO2’s event.
The advance warning is for you to put the date in your diary.
The day is for everyone; growers, their families and friends of Grow-Or-Own and Growing at Home. We need volunteers to help on the day, in setting up, running a stall and clearing up. Jane G would welcome donations for the tombola and asks that any donation be put in the box (marked ‘Tombola’!) in the big shed.
If you have an idea for a stall or activity that would add to the celebration and also might raise a few pennies for the project, we’d love to hear. So, if you’d like to be involved, either email us at bluebell@ grow-own-own.co.uk or speak to whoever is on duty when you visit on a Wednesday or Sunday morning.
Just a few remaining….
We’re coming to the end of the growing season but there are still plants to go in.
There will be spring cabbage and a few salad plants available outside the polytunnel on Sunday.
How to Prepare and Eat Garden Snails
|Here is some advice on how to prepare and eat garden snails! It’s from Elisabeth Luard’s book Saffron and Sunshine. She’s spent much of her life in places like Spain, living in simple villages on a tiny budget to feed a family.
Luard says that all land snails are edible but you must starve them before you eat them, because they contain potentially toxic excreta – that is, snail poo, Collect them (that won’t be difficult!) and keep them in a clean container that allows air to circulate. Feed them on whatever you’d like to flavour them with – she recommends lettuce and mint. Keep them for about two weeks – less if small, longer if big – and clean out the container every day. She doesn’t mention whether you should have water, but another source says you don’t need any – there’s enough in the atmosphere.
Preparing a box of snails
|When you’re ready to cook them, wash in several changes of water and salt them. They will froth (ugh, this is getting horrible!). When they stop frothing they are considered clean enough to cook. Put them in a pan with enough warm water to cover. Bring gently to the boil. Skim off the froth and add salt and a tablespoon of vinegar, some peppercorns, a couple of bayleaves, parsley, thyme and an onion (this begins to sound like Stone soup!). Simmer 30 mins. Drain, rinse. Remove snails from their shells and pinch off the little curl of black intestine at the end of the body. Finish by simmering a few minutes in garlic and wine, like cooking mussels (this is what they do in Liguria in the Italian Riveria) or in a spicy tomato sauce (which is what they do in Andalucia in southern Spain).
Snails ready to cook
Many thanks (possibly!) to Jane C for researching this topic.
Clive (picture-links by Jim)
Late summer planting
Most sowing and planting have been completed for this growing year, and crops such as french beans, courgettes and sweetcorn are ripening and maturing. If they weren’t eaten by snails! There are still a few salad plants available to fill any short-term spaces in your plots. And you could sow quick growing crops such as radishes.
Planning for winter
We can begin to visualise how we want to use our land over winter. For example, onions and garlic can be sown from October, or broad beans from November. Cabbages and kale can be planted out in the next couple of weeks and eaten in late winter and early spring. Or green manures sown any time from now through October. If you are unsure about what to do, talk to other growers or ask Jane G or Christine who will be volunteering in the big shed.
Cooking with courgettes
One of our growers brought some wonderful courgette bread to our shared lunch on Sunday. Ask Kay for her recipe, and let us have your ideas for cooking with courgettes. The more left field the better!
Christine has arranged for our shears to be sharpened! Thanks Christine!
Check out this amazing project in Peterborough – www.thegreenbackyard.com Many thanks to one of our growers, Suzanne Antonelli, whose father is one of the key people involved.
Come next Sunday at 1pm with a dish made from allotment produce or from whatever is in season. My courgettes and patty pan squashes are coming into their own now. There’s not the usual glut (see below) but I’m hoping for enough to turn into a soup, if it’s raining, or something more exciting if the sun’s out.
To carry on or not?
It’s been a difficult year; first drought and cold, then too much rain and precious little warmth. Some crops have done well despite everything; others could have prospered if the snails and slugs had let them.
It has needed the strongest motivation to keep going and those who have kept their plots even half-productive all deserve gold medals. But the cold and wet have, maybe, put many people off coming to the allotment so perhaps it’s not surprising that several plots have become overgrown. That’s particularly sad if the plot holder is a new grower; it hasn’t been the best year to start growing your own vegetables. We can’t foretell next year, just that it’ll be different. So, if you’ve felt abandoned by your plot and the weather this year, a new growing season always brings the possibility that things will be better. We hope you’ll come back, clear your plot and continue. It’s not even too late for this season. There are salad crops, French bean and spring cabbage plants ready to go out. They’ll be put on the benches outside the polytunnel on Sunday. And, in a month or two, when the weeds have died down and the ground is easier to clear and dig, next year’s garlic, onion sets and broad bean seeds can go in.
Planning for next year
We’re beginning to plan for next year and so it would be helpful for us to know if you intend to give up your plot, by emailing us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have had a successful year and would like to take on a further plot, and if one is available, that would also be useful for us to know. Early next month we will be sending out reminders for plot fees that are due by the end of September.