THERAPY

I said it in the past and I say it now – going to the allotment is better than any therapy for me. I can self isolate, even on my way there and back, it is only about five minutes from my house and when I’m there I am in my little paradise.

Yesterday and today were devoted to digging and getting the land ready for sowing. I did my winter digging everywhere on my plots during the autumn and winter but this was to incorporate the horse muck and refresh the land where I had to walk on it (getting the top net for the fruit cage all square etc)

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This piece of land was quite compacted but all is well now, ready for planting my potatoes.

Today’s effort was slightly bigger, it also helped that we had a shower of rain last night. This will be for carrots

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and the final piece is ready for leeks. My leeks did very well last year, it was the Mammoth variety and they were very tasty.

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CATCHING UP

There will be perfect looking gardens and allotments as the gardeners can’t do much else but do the jobs that they tried to ignore. Mine is the case in point.

The drive between our houses was rather full of weeds and it was one of the jobs that I thought – next time when I’m not too busy….

Well, yesterday and the day before were the time I decided to tackle it. There was an amazing load of weeds but I cleared it as best as I could. It looks great, until the next rain and then it will start sprouting. Well, if this situation here is to last a while, I will see to it again.

Under the heading ‘hedging my bets’ came the next task – clearing my little plastic greenhouse that is just behind the big one. It wasn’t meant for growing anything there, just for storing pots, trays etc, to avoid clattering the main greenhouse. It worked but lately it was getting quite difficult to get it. I just about managed to put the trays in and leave it. It was rather cathartic, the space is ready to be used and I did just that. I have got all my first early potatoes there in growing bags and as we’re not going  away any time soon I will be here to keep an eye on them, top them up with more soil and water them.

Cutting down the bamboo is the next job….

DIFFICULT TIMES

After worrying about not being able to go to the allotment I’m happy now. As part of the new regime us oldies – anybody over 70 – I can go to the allotment every day and keep my distance of two metres from the next gardener, that would be my one exercise per day. I live only about five minutes away from the site, never meet anybody on my way and when I’m there, I am very often the only one. I have no underlying health issues so, if the situation stays the same, I’ll be fine. My sanity will be preserved.

I was there today working in the last net cage, getting rid of the weeds and putting down some of that fragrant wood chip. Beautiful, and very useful – it stops the weeds growing and the path doesn’t get slippery. Win win.

A few days ago, again before the new way of surviving started, one of my friends told me about a pile of some black sacks with some large black flowerpots that were dumped in the new car park close to the old Charterhouse nearby. It is just behind our boundary fence and Frank managed to heave a couple of them over. I emptied the pots, saved the compost, gave the pots to my friends and started planning the next step. The following day I took the wheelbarrow to the car park and in three goes brought all the sacks – all 12 of them – to my back garden. An amazing haul – about 25 pots and three big sacks of very rich compost. I have also discovered that it was used for growing cannabis – the root balls were still in the soil. We shall draw a veil over the origin, it was my gain and I did put it to very good use.

As I wasn’t then quite sure if I would be able to work on the ‘farm’ I decided to hedge my bets. I filled on of my large grow bags with the new compost, placed it on a little table, put it in the veranda and a large tray with four of those pots beside it. The plan is to grow as many of tomatoes, peppers and chilies as I can, I am sure we are going to live through some difficult times.

18. MARCH

We had another delivery of wood chip yesterday, my friendly tree surgeon has left a truck load of eucalyptus and pine chippings by the allotment front gate. I was hoping for that – after this weekend life will be much more complicated for us oldies. I shall use the proviso – do some exercise or walk, keep away from others – and continue gardening on the farm but shoveling wood chip is another matter. The aroma from the heap was quite medicinal.

The progression of one path renewal. It will make life much easier, no need to cut the grass.

As I had a new supply, I was able to use it on the little paths in one greenhouse and in the net tunnel. I’m very happy with the result.

Now I just have to hope for good weather, the seedlings are doing well in the greenhouse at home.

SOME COLOUR

This time I was working in my back garden. I always spend so much time on the ‘farm’ and seem to neglect the front and back gardens and then I feel very guilty. Weeding (almost) done, pots topped up with the rich stuff from the compost in the corner –  talking of that, I left it for about three years and what I got from there was nothing short of miraculous – rich, brown crumbly soil.

Bulbs are planted, one more dwarf apple tree is in a large pot and the greenhouse that is filling up alarmingly fast.

Time for some photos

11. MARCH

We have had some more rain so any more work on the soil is out of the question. Instead of that I was busy finishing jobs that were left, parts of my land were even neglected. One of these was a raspberry patch. It is away from my other plots, it is on a plot I was used to work on, I just have this raspberry area, a plum tree and a line of rhubarb. The neglect must have suited it, because just after clearing the weeds I discovered some super rhubarb, ready for picking and the five lines of raspberries. They were carefully planted in double rows, separated by little paths that were covered by a membrane (strips of unwanted pond liner).

It didn’t take very long and I had the plants trimmed, the dead wood cut out, paths cleared and some horse muck and contents of my composter bins spread all round the raspberry plants.

As I was working I had a very nice surprise – he/she must have been feeling quite cosy but then I came….

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I’m sure he’ll find another place to live.

After finishing for today I did my usual rounds, checking the trees and bushes. One of the old black currant bushes needed to have the big buds removed and that was when I noticed something on the old apple tree nearby.

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In the past I have been trying to rub the mistletoe berries into the bark but no luck.

Thank you birds!

PERFECTION

The last path to be filled with wood chip is ready, the edges are built with planks of wood from a dismantled fencing panel so today I could concentrate on the fruit cage. I’ve had this cage now for a good number of years and it needed sorting out. Some of the blackcurrant bushes were getting too old, they had to go. Blueberries are a super food, I like them and we put them on our porridge every morning so I bought a few new bushes. Early and late varieties and planted them in the cage. I already had some of them there.  Now I have two standard red gooseberries, a redcurrant, two white currants and a jostaberry. That is only a cutting, I haven’t had any fruit from it so I live in hope.

I’m always amazed how well the weeds grow – even though I thought I managed to pull them all out, they came back. I cleared them again. That done, I wanted to put pieces of wood all along the bottom. The netting is buried in the soil and pinned down but this is for extra security, in case some little bird or a mouse should find a gap to get in.

Spring is here, I just hope my Asian pear tree isn’t bursting into flower too soon – we might get some late frosts.

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2. MARCH

After the gales and downpours of the past few weeks it was quite pleasant today working in the sunshine. Blue skies and a gentle breeze, it was a welcome change. Fortunately I have done all my digging already so I could concentrate on maintenance. I managed to finish edging one path, ready for some more wood chip and then started clearing my large patch of raspberries, cutting them down. I usually do it in the autumn but I was too busy last year so left it for now. It will be interesting how they will fruit.

I picked my first rhubarb, not the forced one but the very early one – must be the earliest yet.

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To finish the activities I planted quite a number of lettuce seedlings – iceberg type – in the greenhouses. They should be fine, it feels nice and warm inside. It’ll be nice to have a fresh crunchy lettuce again.

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Another day of work tomorrow, must finish the raspberries and then I will need lots of patience to wait with sowing some more seeds.

22. FEBRUARY

Another day, another upcycling done. I was offered some blue rubber chippings, the kind used in playgrounds; of course I accepted. It took just the two of us, Frank and myself, filling a few large sacks and a wheelie bin, then taking it to the allotment and the result is…

I didn’t mix this with the wood chip, these two paths are small and to the side but important to cover all the same, it stops the ground getting muddy.

That was the other day. Today was the day of harvesting the last of the leeks and as it wasn’t too wet I decided to dig the patch over. Good job done, it was quite easy and by getting this done all my digging is finished. I hope the leeks will do as well this year, they were tasty and lasted the whole winter.

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