When I first started on the allotment all those years ago this little area was a compost heap. I think even calling it a compost heap was kind, it was an area quite overgrown with nettles and brambles. I thought it was a waste so I started clearing it and to my surprise it was quite easy and the soil was very rich. Over the years I grew different vegetables there, from beans over squashes to potatoes and this is going to be the last, it has my new apple tree there – Lord Lambourne.
I had a couple of courgette plants there as well, they did very well but the weeds got going again during the last few weeks. It helps to have the soils quite wet, it wasn’t at all difficult to clear.
I mended the sides and spread some rich compost around the young tree. With a bit of luck I could get some fruit next year.
The rest of the morning was finishing clearing the orchard, I had a couple of patches to do but they proved quite challenging. All is done now so I can start on another part of the plot. If it doesn’t rain too much in the next few days I’ll tackle the fruit cage.
I planted my first Christmas present today. I was thinking a few days ago that I should do what some gardening correspondent suggested – plant some fruit trees. If we have enough space it is much better to grow something that is either too difficult to buy or too expensive. Vegetables like potatoes or onions are quite cheap to buy but soft fruit or fruit in general is more expensive.
I had a look at my plots on the allotment and decided I had enough space for two more fruit trees. As a coincidence one of the seed companies I use advertised bare root trees and they had a special offer too. Exactly what I wanted. I have been looking to buy a greengage and here it was. And one more that I didn’t ever hope to get, a mirabelle.
The roots had to be soaked before planting. I had to cut the supports so the trees had enough time in the water.
Fortunately I cleared this strip of land only a few days ago so it was all ready. I remembered to dig a square hole – in a round hole the roots tend to follow the shape and don’t spread out where as in a square hole they tend to reach out into the corners.
The two trees were delivered today, my very first Christmas present from Frank. Never mind the weather, they had to be planted. It was very overcast when I went to the allotment and the rain started as I was half-way through but I finished – it is only water after all. Now they can settle in and start growing.
By now it was raining quite hard so I sat in the greenhouse with a cup of tea and noticed that the little chilli plant still had some fruit on. This one is called Biquinho, it is not really hot, very nice to eat fresh from the plant.
Things usually work out for me. I was really tired yesterday after my Sunday work on the allotment so I didn’t go there. The weather also helped – it was raining. It was kitchen work instead. On Sunday my friend Dave gave me quite a few shallots, he always grows a lot of them and mine didn’t do very well this year. I never pickled them before so I thought I’d have a go. I had to start the whole process on Sunday evening, it continued overnight and the whole job was finished yesterday after lunch. Luckily I had all the ingredients so now I just have to wait about three to four weeks and then we can sample them.
Also thanks to Dave I will grow broad beans. I had a good harvest but right in the end the plants got completely smothered with black flies so I wasn’t going to bother. Dave gave me quite a lot of them so on Sunday I put some in the first net cage I cleared.
Perhaps this might stop the attack.
Today was the next little net structure’s turn to be cleared. This is a little greenhouse that Simon on the allotment didn’t have glass for. Waste not want not so I moved it to this spot and covered with the green netting. A perfect little net cage.
The peas that I grew there this year did very well but now the weeds took over. Fortunately the ground is soft so it didn’t take too long to clear it.
I also found a number of strawberry plants there, these were the ones my friend Eva gave me years ago. I grew them there but moved them later. These ones survived so they deserved to carry on. I also put the rest of the broad beans in.
I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now – just the fruit cage to clear out and I’m finished. As it is so mild I’m sure the weeds will start growing again but it would just be a bit of maintenance.
I have had my wish – the day started nice and sunny again so straight after breakfast I went down to my allotment. I had a plan but that by itself doesn’t always mean that I will follow it. I usually start one job and from the corner of my eye I see something so I see to that and don’t finish the first task. Not today though.
The large Asian pear didn’t have much fruit this year but it gave me loads of golden leaves.
I have made a chicken wire enclosure for making leaf mould so I have swept all the leaves and put them there. It is quite full now but come the spring it will shrink down .
Next on my list of things to do today was to weed the little net cage I made a number of years ago. My friends were getting rid of their trampoline and offered me the stand. Excellent to make a frame for a net cage. Use the two halves, put some sturdy canes or tubes in the make it higher, attach some horizontal wood, cover with a green scaffolding netting and a cage is done. Make do and mend – the best way to add structures.
Some time later it all looks much better. I have just got blackcurrants there, the birds can’t get at them.
This was on the list of things to do but I had some time left so I managed to clear the narrow strip of land beside this cage, it will be ready for the sunflowers next year. They can have extra support sitting just beside the cage.
As I was walking to the allotment in the morning I thought – I hope this weather continues for a while yet. If I didn’t look at the fallen yellow leaves on the ground I might have thought that it was springtime. It felt quite warm, the breeze was light and it was just perfect for gardening. Today I cleared the last greenhouse out, pulled out all the peppers and chillies but left one plant there – another physalis. I’ve got no idea how this one managed to grow among all the peppers but on closer inspection I have found out that this is really a Cape gooseberry. I tasted one of the fruits, it was lovely and sweet. I’m sure I have got a packet of seeds of this plant so I’ll try it next year.
All this took quite a while so after this I just managed to dismantle the bean supports and go home. But the day was so nice I decided to continue in the afternoon.
Frank came with me and between the two of us we hammered in some sturdy pieces of wood to support the uprights in one of my old net cages. I have constructed this one myself and it is lasting quite well. But after the heavy rains the ground has softened and it became a bit loose. All is well now and I’m sure it will last a few more years.
The rest of my afternoon I was weeding yet again – inside the rescued net cage and on another part of one of my plots. This has a line of blackberries and loganberries and a couple of pear trees, also a damson, a gooseberry and a number of herbs. I have flowers in between, they attract the bees and it cheers the place up.
I’m not quite sure what the forecast is for tomorrow but I hope it will at least keep dry. I have got one large fruit cage and a smaller net cage to clear out. I don’t need sunshine, just a dry day.
What a difference a day makes – it was sunny and quite mild in the morning and I felt much happier straight away. I’m a fair weather person, if I could choose I would ban snow and dark evenings. Never mind, I just have to put up with it, wait for the shortest day and after that all will gradually improve.
I went to the allotment with the idea to finish weeding a reasonable piece of land – that was the orchard. It is right at the end of one of my plots, in front of the shed. I’ve got a good selection of fruit trees – a few figs, a couple of apples, pear and two plums.
We had a very good harvest this year and as I started working there I remembered what my Granddad always said – keep an area the size of the crown of the tree clear of weeds around the trunk. I did that and also decided what I will put in between the trees. I will scatter some summer-flowering plants and beside the net tunnel I will put some wigwams with sweet peas.
The rain was very good for me, the soil was soft but not water-logged, we have very good drainage on the whole site. It also helps to be on a slight slope.
As I was weeding I also mended the net cage, this is the very first one but it keeps going. It just needed to pull the weeds from the end of it and fix the pegs again. I’m sure it will last another few years.
I had another surprise plant growing there – the physalis with the blue flowers. I have tried to search for it, all I found was the plants with yellow flowers but not this one. The search continues.
I must’ve misremembered the weather forecast for today – I was ready to go to the allotment to carry on weeding. It wasn’t to be, it has been raining since early morning and I think we had rain during the night too. Plan B had to be used. When in doubt, do some cooking. I was going to prepare today’s lunch anyway so I just continued in the kitchen getting tomorrow’s lunch done. Today’s meal was a simple affair – pasta with homemade sauce and veggie sausages. The sauce was oven roasted tomatoes, peppers and courgettes. Very tasty and quick.
The plan for tomorrow was a dish using one of my squashes I grew on the allotment. I like BBC Good food so I chose one of their recipes. It is a slow cooker recipe, even better as I can cook it overnight.
The recipe asks for a butternut squash but as I didn’t grow them I have used a substitute – Moschata muscade
They grew well and I have saved some seeds to make sure I’ll have them next year. The rest of the ingredients was my own as well, roasted tomatoes and peppers instead of a tin of chopped tomatoes and homemade pesto.
Of course anything made at home from scratch always takes a while – peeling, chopping and so on but the result is infinitely better. My slow cooker was just big enough for it and we shall have at least two servings each from it. I’m going to make the dumplings for the first day and we can have it with some bread the next time. Of course the bread will be homemade too.
It was back to my usual activity on the allotment. The back garden is all sorted out, I have even found out that my favourite pond refurbishment people stock the spare part for the UV filter – we’ll have a day out on Wednesday and combine getting the new part with a lunch in the garden centre’s restaurant.I prefer to go there and get it from them, they’ll explain it for me.
The weather is still good, I was able to have a good work-out on the allotment and finished one more piece of land, It was quite overgrown but I’m happy with the result.I have even remembered take the before photo
The soil was very crumbly after all the rain and it was quite an easy job. Because the weather is so mild everything is still growing and flowering. I had some marigolds around the apple trees and they are in full flower. They are staying.
In another place I have got a clump of red campion – that is in flower too, I didn’t know it can flower so late in the year.
One way I can tell if we’ve had frost is by my nasturtium flowers – they would wilt even after the slightest frost but there is no damage yet.
There is a mysterious plant growing in one of the net cages. I have no idea what it might be but the fruit is very similar to that of a tomatillo. The fruit is green and very hard and packed with seeds. I had it a few years ago so I presume the seeds survived in the soil somehow.
Usually tomatillo plants have yellow flowers but mine are blue, lovely large flowers. One day I might find out exactly what they are. Needless to say, I didn’t eat the fruit.
The weather is still very mild and I was lucky enough to have another helper in my garden. This time it was Mike who came on Friday and left today after lunch. We worked most of the day yesterday, cutting down, digging out unwanted trees – a lopsided pine that was obscuring my two lovely yews.
They have got all the space they need now. After that we changed the arrangement with the strings with CDs over the pond, they’re supposed to scare the heron from fishing there. And last but not least Mike fixed my little bird bath cum drinking fountain on the fence so I’m very hopeful the birds will appreciate it.
I had a change of scenery during the last few days. We had our usual Johnson get-together in Whitchurch, in Hampshire. The weather was kind to us, from the journey there on Thursday till late on Friday. It was back to rain on Saturday but that didn’t matter, my and Chris’s job was done.
This is the usual gathering of the older members of the family and we combine it with some gardening jobs. This time it was tidying the grave of the boys’ Mum. The grave has got some white stone chipping but the weeds have taken over and the surface is just a sea of green. We decided to leave it and just put a number of pots on top. There are two small roses in the pots and a selection of spring bulbs. We refreshed the soil so I’m hoping for a great show. Chris always gives me some bulbs and they are wonderful. We are in for a treat.
The headstone is leaning a lot and I’ve written an email to the town council asking for advice where to get help. All the same, it looks much better after the clear up.
The next job was weeding the front and back of Mike’s garden. Chris did this job in August but because the weather has been so mild the weeds flourished.
Between the two of us we filled a wheelie bin with the weeds and the result is very satisfying.
It’ll be very interesting how long it takes before the weeds appear again. We have decided to put a layer of chipped bark or wood chip on these borders to smother the weeds. That’ll be the next job then.