MUSHROOMS

It is the time of year again when I think where to put what type of fertiliser or compost. I decided to get some more mushroom compost from my favourite place – Livesey Brothers. It was an enjoyable visit; it is not too far, an easy drive and not only did I get 6 large sacks of mushroom compost but also some tasty mushroom. I can already taste the risotto I’ll make in the next few days…..

The compost is earmarked for the net cages where I will grow brassicas next year and also for my fruit cage, I shall fees all my soft fruit bushes – but not blueberries, that’s the wrong stuff for them.

FRESH PRODUCE

I like spinach but instead of that I grow chard. I found that spinach bolted very quickly and when I cooked it, it just collapsed and was down to nothing.

Chard is much more robust and comes in a variety of colours. Some of the stems are brilliant red and can be used like celery. I have found a recipe using spinach so as usual I substituted that with chard and the result is scrumptious – spinach and bechamel bake.

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BIT BY BIT 2.

During this time of year there will be many more installments in this category. Today was the turn of my newest raspberry patch. It was on this existing plot (no.3 in my collection) when I took it over but in a poor state. I must have dug it over and over at least six times and I’m still battling with the weeds. But not just the weeds.

Raspberries are well-known for spreading their roots and mine are no exception. I have to remind myself to be ruthless and thin them out.

Alas, the weather is still so mild I might have to weed this patch again before long.

There are benefits too. I kept the tomato plants going in the greenhouse, they had some green tomatoes on and the result is

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this tasty tomato – Costoluto Fiorentino. There might be a few more. The greenhouse is not totally draft-proof but obviously keeps the plants warm enough.

BIT BY BIT

I think I could apply this motto not only to my activities on the farm but also to acquiring land.

When I first started all those years ago – can’t believe it is 9 years ! – I had half of one plot. I thought that would be quite enough. How wrong was I. The other half of the same plot was soon mine and very shortly I had all this land I have now. The secret is to do little and often – or in my case a lot and often!

Today was a case in point. Because it was raining during the night I didn’t want to do any digging. Instead I decided to sort out the original line of blackberries that is half way down my original plot. It was there already and I didn’t do it properly in the past.

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And it all looks much better. Tomorrow is another day and another bit of work will be done.

AUTUMN TASKS

I live this time of year. Even though the days are getting shorter and nothing much grows now – except the dreaded weeds!!! – I find all the work very satisfactory. My favourite description of my state of being is self actualisation. This is one of the theories that stuck in my brain from the nursing training days – Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

I started with a patch of raspberries and rhubarb at the end of one of my plots. To say that it looked neglected is an understatement. It is one of the places I meant to tackle but something else always got in the way. Today was the day.

It looks lovely in the first photo but the other two show how well the weeds grew. Never mind a plant encyclopaedia, I should get one on weeds! Anyway, this job is done and tomorrow, weather permitting, will be another busy day.

I also harvested another yacon plant. The foliage is beginning to show signs of frost but it doesn’t matter, the tubers are fine in the ground.

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I like to eat them raw, just scrubbed clean and peeled. They taste sweet but in reality they are quite special. They contain inulin.

DIVIDING AND TRANSPLANTING

Some years ago I planted a small sage plant on the allotment – it was a rooted branch on my plant in the back garden. I think it liked it on the farm because when I dug it out it did exactly the same again but even more – I managed to split it into a number of smaller plants, all of them with a good root ball. They are now at the side of one of my net cages.

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It was still too wet for digging so the next job had to be moving one of my thornless blackberries and a loganberry to their new home.

TOO WET TO DIG….

…but good enough to do other work.

About three years ago I put two composter bins on one of my plots. I kept filling them with grass cutting, kitchen waste and all manner of things (but not weeds as i think it doesn’t ge hot enough to kill them).

I didn’t continue working this plot but the bins are still there and I was adding more material in.

A few days ago I managed to upend one of them and move it to the end of another plot, close to my shed. It was half empty and it looked brown and crumbly, just like the best potting compost you buy in a garden centre.

Today was the turn of the other bin – again upended and moved next to the other one near the shed. There was some dry stuff on top of both heaps and I took it to my bean trench, it helped to fill it up.

It is too good to waste so I decided to put it in bags and use it when I need to top up my raised beds in the greenhouse etc.

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The new spot for the bins, neat and tidy, in the corner of the plot, ready to be filled again.

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It was worth the wait – must do it more often – ‘forget’ to empty the bins regularly and that way will get beautiful potting compost.

ANOTHER BUILDING PROJECT

This is the perfect time for this kind of activity.

I have got a line of blackberry and loganberry in the middle of my original allotment – it divides it in two. The plants were quite small when first planted but now they’re quite vigorous and unmanageable. As I have a square of land with some fruit trees and bushes I thought a line of posts with supporting wires would be just right to finish this fruit set up.

Fortunately Simon was on the allotment and offered to help. I knew there were some metal posts in our lovely clean communal shed. We got them out but found that they were too long. Again Simon came to my rescue – managed to cut all three to the same size. All I had to do was to dig three deep holes and hammer the posts in. We even found a large reel of some plastic coated wire during the shed clear out so I could fix five lines of support.

All I have to do now is to prune the plants and dig the loganberry out and plant it in the new place. I’m sure it will grow better – it is in full sun and will have space to run.