Monday, 30 July 2012

The Greenhouse

As the weather gradually grew warmer over the next few weeks and months, so returned the fervour for the allotment. 

In the autumn of the previous year, thanks to one of my fellow plot holders I had procured a greenhouse. Unfortunately the actual logistics for the transportation of the greenhouse from where it resided in a walled garden several miles away from the plot proved more difficult than could have been anticipated.

The greenhouse had undoubtedly been erected inside the walled garden, but due to it's age and robustness (or lack of!) dismantling the frame was not an option. The only access and egress to and from the garden was through a narrow door in the 8 ft high wall, through which it was obvious the greenhouse would not fit. Once the panes of glass had been removed the only option was to lift the aluminum frame over the wall. At 5'2" this was easier said than done for me and thus other allotmenteers had to be drafted in for assistance.

A rickety old table was positioned in the doorway either side of the wall and for a short time three of us stood hazardously upon the table manoeuvring the wobbling frame above our heads and over the wall. The task had barely been accomplished when a leg of the table, with a loud groan of protest gave way. Fortunately we were unscathed and after some hurried remedial work was undertaken to disguise the damage to the table, the greenhouse was transported at a sedate 20mph on the back of a trailer to the allotment.

A few weeks later, after only one further set back - when the wind caught the unglazed frame of the greenhouse, tumbling it over and over down the slope and in the process severing  several branches from the poor Cox's Pippin apple tree; the efforts were all worthwhile as the greenhouse was securely located in its new home halfway down the plot on the left hand side.

A grapevine was planted in one corner of the greenhouse along with tomatoes, basil and peppers. Jewel-like, orange calendula edged the little path of old Quarry tiles leading to the door.

The greenhouse looked as though it had been established in the plot for years.

Viewed from the lane.

As the summer progressed the sweetcorn stood like sentries as the yellow sunflowers raised their heads towards the sun and the vividly coloured calendula spilt over the little path leading into the greenhouse. The tomatoes ripened and fresh homemade tomato and basil soup was on the menu.

Tomato Soup Recipe

200g Onions, chopped
2 tbsp Olive Oil
900g Tomatoes
dash of Port
3 tbsp torn basil, plus some to serve
Salt and black pepper
Vegetable stock (optional)

Sweat the onions.
Add the rest of the ingredients and cook for about 10 minutes until the tomatoes are softened.
Whiz the soup in a blender and sieve. It will be fairly thick, but use vegetable stock to thin if required.

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