making hay

We’re stuck in a time warp and the World is moving on around us. A covenant, agreed when Lord Zetland handed over the land to the people of Redcar, appears now, to be a little outdated. A set of rules, forbidding any structure above 4′ high, no lighting of fires …

brimming with broccoli

We’ve been at the allotment again on Saturday – clearing the last of the weeds left from 3yrs of neglect. We didn’t do this clearing the easy way – with a strimmer; oh no, muggins here had to do it by hand with a pair of shears and secateurs and …

cold frames – a poor man’s greenhouse

A quick look at the diary and we can see that we’re 18 weeks in, in our journey on Plot 36. It doesn’t seem so long to be honest, given the volume of the weeds removed and compost and manure brought onto site. I mustn’t forget the pallets either. The site resembles …

extreme composting – turning up the heat

Those of you interested in the concept of no-dig gardening, will have no doubt read, or at least heard of the work of Charles Dowding. Charles has written a number of extremely informative books on the subject and has a website which is an absolute mine of information, for those interested …

Recent Articles:

Victorious Veg Competition

November 30, 2012 Competitions Comments Off

This competition is now closed.

Many thanks to everyone who entered; the first correct answer drawn at random belongs to Mr Paul Nelson, we’ve sent you an email Paul.

Tuckers seeds were established in 1831


Do you fancy growing some stunning show-bench veg?

Leeks to long for; Onions to ogle over; Carrots to crave for.. ok, ok! but it could be a lot easier than you think.

Apart from being a fun day out for the family, a flower and vegetable show is a great place to pick up some very useful tips, to help you to get the very best from your plot and of course – a place on the top table might be a fantastic bonus.

PuD have joined up with Tuckers Seeds of Ashburton, Devon to offer you a great prize, which will hopefully get you growing and showing some stunning veg next season.


A beginners guide to growing and showing vegetables

This 68 page A4 guide to growing and showing vegetables by Derek Brooks, edited by David Alison, provides an introduction to this fascinating hobby. Packed with information and colour photographs.


A £10 voucher to be spent on show-stopping vegetable seeds at Tuckers Seeds of Ashburton.




 To enter, all that you need to do is to visit Tuckers Seeds website and find the answer to this simple question:

When were Tuckers Seeds established?

Then, simply send us an email with your answer, along with your full name, to 

The competition closes at midnight on 12th December 2012. We’ll then draw one lucky winner at random, from all of the correct entries and notify that person by return email. For legal reasons we have to show you the small print.

Hopefully, you’ll soon be growing some monster veg and possibly getting started on the show-bench too. Best of luck!

market intelligence

November 30, 2012 Seeds Comments Off

We spoke with Terry Rayner, one of the senior partners at Terwins Seeds.

Terry has enjoyed a long career in the agricultural seeds trade, spending several years as a certified crops inspector.

Terry was inspired to form his own seeds company in 2003, following several years as General Manager for a family company which produced seeds for national companies.


We asked Terry about the ethos at Terwins Seeds ‘We aim to sell seeds of good value and price, with a personal touch.

‘we try to provide wherever possible, the older varieties that are the firm favourites with established gardeners.

He added ‘we gather information from breeders constantly, to ensure that we have access to the very best varieties’



There does appear to be some very promising varieties this year for vegetable growers.

Here are three of them: 

Sweet Candle F1

Sweet Candle F1



Carrot Sweet Candle F1. A good Exhibition variety, exceptional taste, high yielding, uniform cylindrical shaped roots with round tips.


Tomato Sweet Million

Tomato Sweet Million



Tomato Sweet Million. Produces sweet, red cherry sized fruit, easily grown in vegetable plot, cold greenhouse  or on the patio.


Moonlight Runner Bean

Moonlight Runner Bean



Runner Bean Moonlight. A very heavy cropping, self- pollinating variety, excellent flavoured beans. White seeded & white flowered.




You can contact Terry and his team on 01284 828255 or alternatively visit their website



Fire sweeps through town allotments site

November 29, 2012 News 2 Comments


Fire sweeps through town allotments site.

A fire broke out at an allotments site in Ashington last week.Police and the fire service attended the blaze in Woodhorn Road at around 8.30pm on Wednesday, November 21.


A spokesperson from the fire service said 50 by 50 square metres of the allotments and their buildings were alight.


Three pumps were used, as well as two hose reels and three jets, and gas cylinders were removed from area.

Flames could be seen from nearby houses.Fire officers believe there is nothing suspicious about the incident at the current time.

A fire in allotments in Ashington last Tuesday evening. Photo by Jackie Rossi

A fire in allotments in Ashington last Tuesday evening. Photo by Jackie Rossi


via Fire sweeps through town allotments site – Local – News Post Leader.

3 Sisters Succotash

November 28, 2012 Mark Willis, Recipes 1 Comment


Many of you will be aware that I tried this year (unsuccessfully) to create a Three Sisters vegetable bed, combining the traditional squash, corn and beans.



Well, the Squash was a complete failure, and the Sweet Corn produced in total enough for one paltry 2-person serving, but at least the beans were good.

Those beans are “Cherokee Trail of Tears” ones, and the pods were full of small glossy black beans, which I dried and stored away for future use. Last weekend I decided to use some of them to create a dish loosely based on the idea of Succotash.

Cooking this dish is in truth not a great culinary challenge, it’s mainly an “assembly job”. The key thing is to get all three main ingredients cooked to the right degree without anything going mushy, so you can’t just put them all in a pan and boil them up. I therefore pre-cooked the beans (after soaking them in water for several hours). Likewise I cooked the Butternut Squash first, and added the beans and Sweet Corn later on.

So this is my recipe: (Serves 2)

75g dried beans, such as Cherokee Trail of Tears
Half a medium-sized Butternut Squash, peeled and cubed (approx 250g prepared weight)
250g Sweet Corn (I used ready-cooked corn, but if you are using fresh corn then pre-cook it)
500ml stock (I used chicken stock)
1 red pepper or chilli (optional) – for added colour – finely diced

Pre-cook the (soaked) beans – about an hour
Cook the squash in the stock – 5-10 mins
When the squash is nearly done, add the beans
Simmer for a few more minutes to complete the cooking of the squash and thoroughly warm the beans
Add the Sweet Corn and chilli, continue simmering until warmed through
Season to taste
Drain the dish through a sieve, reserving the cooking liquour
Arrange the vegetables in your chosen serving-dish. If they look too dry, adjust the moisture level by adding some of the reserved liquour.

Serving suggestion.
I think this dish goes well with Pork chops, cured Pork Loin, Gammon steaks, or bacon; possibly Black Pudding - basically anything pig-derived! (Vegetarians, you can omit this part.) I also served it with rice.

We had a pair of lovely Pork Chops bought on our local Farmers’ Market. They were from Greenfield Pork Products, based near Andover, Hampshire, about 35 miles from Fleet. Here’s a picture of the chops marinating:

My marinade was a mixture of olive oil, garlic, fennel seeds, dried oregano, black pepper and a little dusting of Jamaican Jerk Seasoning. (I’m not following any recipe here, you understand. I just thought that sounded like a nice mixture.)

As a crunchy garnish to add texture to my dish I dry-fried the seeds from the Butternut Squash, cooking them until they were just beginning to go brown. Done like that they taste really nutty – rather like toasted pine-nuts.

Here’s the finished Succotash:-

and in close-up, with the toasted seeds added:-

And with the Pork chops and rice:-

This dish turned out to be a lot more special than I had expected: the pork was tender and succulent, and strongly scented with the fresh (home-grown) Fennel seeds; and the chilli in the Succotash was a lot hotter than I was expecting. I used a couple of those little “Turkey” chillis, which are usually not particularly hot – except today!

Even the rice was special: it was a selection of brown Basmati, red Camargue and Wild rice – a really good mix of colours, tastes and textures.

Well, I’m not sure whether it’s authentic Succotash, but I liked it!

[This post was previously published on Mark's own blog -]

Wordless Wednesday – allotment wives

November 27, 2012 Wordless Wednesday 1 Comment


just when you thought it was safe to go check on your leeks

just when you thought it was safe to go check on your leeks


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