Today after breakfast myself and Frank went to Barton Green, a part of Coventry I’ve never been to. All this because I was searching on the internet where I could find some horse muck around Coventry. I used to go to a lovely place just on the edge of town, on the way to Fillongley but they have moved and there are houses being built there. What a waste of a beautiful field! As I was searching a facebook page suddenly appeared, appropriately named Muck and Manure UK. A very nice lady called Maria said I could come over today and that’s exactly what we did. Managed to fill nine large sacks of composted horse manure, ready to be used, all for the princely sum of £1 per sack.
It is not going to last very long, by the afternoon I have already used one large sack, put it in my little tomato enclosure that I created yesterday.
After this job came my usual one – weeding. I have got an excellent tool for this called Nunki weeder. It is very good, glides through the soil like a knife through butter and a large area is done almost effortlessly in no time at all. Because of the design it doesn’t damage the young plants at all.
The last job on the farm was just to water the greenhouses and go home. Everything looks great, the tomatoes are ready to flower and there will be some pears on my two pear trees.
After harvesting some broad beans the other day and putting them in the vegetable soup I decided to pick some every few days, chop and freeze them. A great idea, this way we shall have some different beans to cook in the winter.
Today was also planting tomatoes day – I had another seven plants at home and no room anywhere. The greenhouses on the allotment are full so I decided to plant these in the large net cage, there is a square of ground just big enough.
They are strong enough to survive the move but just to be on the safe side I put a surround made out of garden fleece, just to protect them from the wind. I’m sure they’ll be fine, I could even leave it there all the time the tomatoes are there, no harm done.
I usually grow broad beans every year, sow them in the middle of October and hope that the mice are not going to eat every single one. This year it worked, the plants grew well and overwintered fine. We didn’t have a hard winter so all was ready in March to get going. I had to prop the plants up, they grew quite tall and some of them flopped over. In the end they looked good, flowered well and only some of them got attacked by the dreaded blackfly. I pinched the soft tips and that helped. I was quite surprised today when I saw a lot of very nice pods. I like to pick the few early ones when they are quite small, the beans inside are just about visible. I use them whole, just chop them into small pieces and use them in my favourite soup – chunky vegetable one. Anything and everything goes in and I finish it with some Orzo pasta, serve with either my bread or a garlic baguette.
I also grow climbing beans, these are still in the greenhouse starting to sprout. I have toyed with the idea of sowing them directly in the ground but again thought of the mice. There was room in the greenhouse in the back garden so I’m doing it this way.
The best surprise came in the evening, as I was thinking that I should move some of my large flower pots close to the pond, stand them on the edge so the heron wouldn’t be able to perch there. The pots have got big hostas in and the one large pot I was hoping to move has one of my Himalayan lilies in. I didn’t know if it would flower this year, they only do it every few years. Last time I had a flower on it was in May 2018 ( I checked it in the blog). I was rather surprised to see two buds on stems so that will be an extra showpiece by the pond.
The slugs like the leaves as much as they like hosta leaves so I’ll have to think of some protection.
My tomato plants in the three greenhouses on the allotment needed some attention today, putting canes beside them and tying them – all 41 of them. They look very healthy and some of them are almost ready to flower. There is a plan behind this large number of plants, I like to bottle them either as passata or just oven roasted ones, they are much better than any tinned tomatoes from a shop.
I still have some more tomato plants in the greenhouse in the back garden, nine of them in smaller pots, they will be planted later on the allotment in one of the net cages, and four plants in big pots. With those I’m just waiting for settled warm weather so I can stand them outside on the patio.
There was a change of activities on Saturday. I was given some vouchers by our son Tom for my birthday and it was just the right time to go to the Perfect ponds to get some more fish and plants for our pond. Two guys from this place came in December last year to sort our pond, the result is an amazingly clear water and happy five old fish. We got four more Koi and loads of food for them and some plants. These are now on a low ledge in the water and hopefully they’ll get bigger and will prevent the heron from fishing in the pond. We have also rigged up a system of CDs on strings, they flicker and again act as a scare. Time will tell but I’m hopeful.
Everything on the allotment is doing well and as the weather is nice ( the forecast is good for the next number of days) I decided to plant out my sunflower plants. These are the Johnson competition sunflowers, they were in flowerpots on the veranda so they were ready to go out. I gained a strip of ground between two of my greenhouses, they will be sheltered there and it should be a bit warmer too.
I also dug some rich compost in before planting three sunflowers, supported with a cane.
I had more plants, they were not so big and I just placed them randomly here and there, it’ll brighten the plot, all 12 of them.
The strawberries are flowering very well, I even saw some fruit on the plants and I’m sure the birds have spotted it as well. That meant my next job was to cover all the raised beds. I have got the nets for the job, the biggest problem is to remember which net goes where. The beds are not all the same size but I think I have managed.
I will have a little break now as the next vegetables will be all kinds of climbing beans and courgettes and squashes. These are now in seed trays and are already sprouting. There is also sweetcorn – first of all I thought I’d wait for the weather to warm up even more and sow them in the ground directly but there was the possibility of mice eating the seed. Better be safe, there was room in the big greenhouse in the back garden.
It has been very dry and quite cold during April, I have been mainly working in the greenhouses and weeding. The lack of rain certainly didn’t stop the weeds growing. The same goes for the grass on the paths. One of my paths is covered with woodchip but the other two have got grass. That has grown suddenly and I decided to tackle it. I borrowed a strimmer and got down to it.
I was used to do it with my shears in the past but they are quite blunt so it had to be the strimmer. I’m pleased with the result.
Of course my friendly robin was very close to me, not sure though if he managed to get any worms.
The sun came out in the afternoon and as it will be the last day of April tomorrow I’m hopeful that the weather will improve. I will be planting some more cabbages and kale plants. They have been standing in the open veranda so they are quite used to the weather by now.
Things are working out just fine with my sowing seeds and transplanting into greenhouses on the allotment. It is quite a task filling four greenhouses, deciding what to put where but three of them are done to perfection. Just the latest one remains, that will be done tomorrow I hope. I still have about 24 tomato plants to find a home for but I’m sure it’ll get sorted out.
Today was the second phase, washing little flowerpots and sowing other vegetables – courgettes and sweetcorn. If all the seeds germinate we shall have enough to feed us and the neighbourhood.
One reason why the seeds are germinating so well is the compost I am using – Dalefoot. It is a peat free compost from the Lake district. Far the best I’ve ever used, I pay a bit more but it is well worth it.
The leeks are done so today I finished a job that I started on Sunday morning. My tomatoes are amazing this year, every seed I put in the pots must have germinated, I have got dozens of plants. Very carefully labelled varieties including Yellow pear. That one is prolific and produces lots of small sweet tomatoes, very late into the autumn.
I have managed to fill two of my greenhouses on the allotment – I need four more plants to finish altogether. I have even put some tomatoes in the big pots I have rescued from the canabis farm and still I had a lot left. I mentioned it to my neighbour’s daughter and she took 12 of them. Now it looks quite normal, I’ll put the rest in some more big pots and perhaps inside one of my net cages when the weather warms up.
Both greenhouses were thoroughly watered and I moved on to the next task. When my third greenhouse was erected it left a narrow strip of land between the old and the new one. I put a water butt at each end, collecting rainwater from the gutters. Unfortunately it closed the access to the piece of land so weeds grew quite well there. I was always going to sort it out, never had enough time until today. Of course I had to empty one of the butts so I chose the one with the tap as it stood on a structure made of bricks and would be easier to move. It wasn’t very full, I used the water on the sprouting peas in the net cage and the raspberries, then heaved it on the path and started clearing the weeds.
I’m pleased with the result, I’ll have just enough space to plant my competition sunflowers there, they will be sheltered from both sides.
The water butt is perfect in the new position, it is even easier to draw the water.
I am quite surprised how well the leeks germinated. A bit too well. Last year seeds just didn’t want to know – I did have some leeks but not a lot and carrots and parsnips were so poor that I had to re-seed them twice.
I have finished planting my leeks today having started yesterday. I had a piece of land ready for them, I just had to run a hoe through it and then rake it fine.
Yesterday I planted 79 leeks and today I finished the job. We have a grand total of 111 leeks – I think we’ll manage to go through the winter with this.
I had room for one row beside the leeks so I planted my onions grown from seed. This is one of the few times that I was successful with them, in previous years nothing germinated. When it comes to seeds germinating this year they are all excellent so as a result I have got many more tomatoes, peppers and chillies because all the seeds came through. I’m sure I’ll manage to fill all my four greenhouses and also countless large pots…..
I had a change of scenery this weekend, we went to stay with Mike and Nicky in the Lakes. All my work on the allotment is up to date, so is the greenhouse in the back garden so I could indulge and work in someone else’s place. I knew Mike wanted to upgrade the path in his front garden using the same slate chippings that we used on the other half of the garden a few years ago. Of course I was ready for this work, I had my wellies, gloves and gardening trousers with me. Fortunately the weather was kind to us. It wasn’t very warm but the sun was shining and as we got down to work it soon warmed us up. The chippings were delivered on Saturday morning and as a first thing we had to remove the old gravel and lining from the path. I did the removing and Mike was loading it in his wheelbarrow and taking it to his back garden where he had a large builders’ sack. In the end we filled it to the brim – but the path was ready.
I gave Mike a roll of lining material that was just enough for this path, we manged to get it down just before lunch. Afternoon was spent pinning it to the wooden side that was making an edge. The following morning it was all hands to the pump again, this time shovelling the slate chipping and spreading it on the new path. I thought we had more than enough but in the end he’ll have to get a few small sacks to top the path so that it is just perfect.
We are delighted with the result, the slate is exactly the same colour as the other side of the garden.