Weeds are plants that are in the wrong place – I’m sure they think they’re just lovely. I have a continuous battle with them – but not everywhere on the plot. One part I was able to prepare for planting garlic just by hoeing, there were almost none there. Another one, like inside the fruit cage was a morning job, they were very stubborn and plentiful. I’m delighted to say that all is fine in that fruit cage.
When I first started working on my plot I had to do a lot of digging – it was overgrown and all the stuff I cleared I deposited at the very back. That was 12 years ago. Amazingly this bit of ground is in use now, I tried to clear it a couple of years ago and it certainly was well worth it. This year it was a home for some Borlotti beans and a few courgette plants, Zephyr.
The soil here is amazing, rich and crumbly and this time forking it over was very easy, hardly any weeds and certainly no bindweed roots. I think I’ve cracked it.
Next to do was the little area close to my oldest greenhouse. It is right at the beginning of that plot and was always rather mixed. It has a line of blackberries and loganberries there, a couple of pear trees, an apple and a damson. The apple tree is a miniature, Elstar, but it had so many apples that I had to prop the branches up. The damson was only a thin stick given away years ago when I went with my son and his wife to an open day in their local garden. It even had a few damsons on this year but I didn’t do anything with them. I’ll wait till the harvest is bigger.
The first piece of land that I cleared after the harvest was under a number of bags of the reclaimed potting compost from the cannabis growing house and a large number of big flower pots. Once I managed to put the soil in some stronger bags and moved them next to the nearest greenhouse and stacked the pots there as well, I was able to sow my broad beans here. They germinated very well and I’m glad I protected them with some sweetcorn stems, just so the birds or squirrels wouldn’t be tempted to pull them out. I think it worked.
Even though the spring was nothing to write home about, the harvest was fine. The vegetables coped well with the cold spring and not a very great summer and the harvest was good, apart from the carrots. Germination was poor and I made sure the ground was stone free. I tried three times, in the end I got two rows of reasonable carrots. I don’t think I was alone with this problem, other allotment holders experienced the same. Never mind, there is always next year.
Soft fruit was great, apples also. The figs were rather disappointing, certainly the cold spring affected them. There are countless immature figs on all my trees but I don’t have a chance to harvest them now, even though it is still quite mild. The days are getting shorter and they need the light.
I was hoping the weather would be kind to me today, yesterday was fine but first thing in the morning the sky was very grey and just as I was thinking of going to the allotment it started drizzling. Fortunately I started making more blankets, not the baby ones this time, I’m making large ones, either to throw over on the bed or wrap over your knees on a chilly winter’s day so I had something to keep me busy in the morning.
Everything improved after lunch and I was able to get to my ‘farm’. I’m continuing with my no-dig policy and it works just fine, the ground is reasonably weed free to start with and it takes much less effort.
Having finished this part I have only my orchard to do on this plot and that won’t be too difficult, I keep it quite tidy most of the time. I have got two more plots to do but one of them is almost done – there are four greenhouses on it, a raspberry patch and a line of composter bins so that won’t take too much time either. On the last plot I have three net cages, a number of rows of parsnips and carrots so all in all things are looking up.
I’m putting the greenhouses to sleep for the winter but there are a few things in one of them. I am very pleased with my red pepper, it is the very first time I managed to grow them.
I wasn’t quite sure about dedicating a fairly large part of the plot to the orchard but now I’m sure that it was the right decision. I have a couple of apple trees there, a pear, two plums and figs – one large bush and two small ones. All three are from cuttings. Some time ago I found this out by chance – I was pruning the original large fig tree in my back garden and I put a number of the branches in pots, just in case they might take. They surprised me and grew. I have given away a number of rooted fig cuttings to different people and right now have four more growing in pots in the back garden. The one big advantage is that these cuttings have the embryo figs on already so would be ready to develop them to full size fruit once they start growing. My cuttings fruited even as quite small bushes.
It was the turn of the orchard to be weeded. Not a lot to do there, I had bean structures in between the trees so there weren’t too many weeds.
If I do a section of the plots every time I go to work there I will soon finish it all. There are jobs I’m leaving to the very end, like refreshing the strawberry beds.
I did a bit of research on the internet for my latest greenhouse. It is a Palram greenhouse – I have never heard of them and when I found it I was quite surprised how pricey they can be. Mine is the smallest – 4ftx6ft but all the same,it was a surprise. The site suggests to tether it as it is rather lightweight but when I looked at the tethering kit and read the reviews I knew I had to do something else. The kit is rather expensive and it sounds like it is not fit for purpose.
Never mind, in the morning I went to the nearest hardware store and got exactly what I wanted for a fraction of the price.
After lunch I went to the allotment and, even though it was very windy during last night and today, the greenhouse was in perfect order.
Before I put all the soil in the greenhouse I have also secured the base to the ground – I had metal pegs that I was able to fix to the base. I’m delighted with the result and I’m sure it will work.
I thought that my tomatoes and cucumbers in the greenhouses on the allotment have finished. Not so. After a rainy day I finally managed to go down the ‘farm’ and see if we suffered any damage. I’m delighted to say that the only casualty was a multi-headed sunflower, only because the squirrel wanted to nibble the seeds and the whole thing just came crushing to the floor. No problem there, I have saved the biggest face and took it home before the squirrel found it. I harvested a good number of perfect cucumbers and there will be many more.
For the first time I managed to grow basil in the greenhouse. Before now I was carefully sowing the seeds in small pots and then hoping to transplant them and it never worked. This time I simply scattered the seeds in the grow bed and a lot germinated. I harvested so much basil I was able to make a lot of pesto. I’m freezing portions of it ready to serve with some tasty pasta.
The squashes are ready to harvest too, these are my ‘mashed potato’ squashes. I never grew them before but I will again next year. The reason for the name is simple – you cut them in half, scoop out the seeds and roast them in the oven cut side up. When cooked, the flesh is scooped out and it is like a mashed potato, with only a fraction of the calories of spuds.
I’m delighted with the result. I have used the tried and tested method from finishing the other greenhouses and I’m happy. It was much easier this time, the greenhouse is a bit smaller than the other ones and I have got a plentiful supply of compost – from the raid on the cannabis farm. Even though it is a smaller greenhouse it swallowed five sacks of the soil. I guess it’ll make a cosy home for at least six tomato plants.
I know I said that having three greenhouses on my allotment was enough but when I found out that somebody wanted to move a greenhouse out of his garden because he didn’t want it I couldn’t refuse. It is quite a small one and quite unlike any other greenhouse I have ever seen. It has an aluminium frame but not with glass panes, polycarbon sheets instead. There were some complications too – this greenhouse was in Rugby.
No problem said Simon who lives next door to the site and has a couple of plots, we’ll go one day and dismantle it. I have managed to secure ‘a man with a truck’, my friend’s son Wayne. So on Saturday I went with Simon to Rugby, we dismantled the greenhouse but as I knew that I’ll take it home in a truck we kept the front and back wall intact. That was a huge help as it has got a hinged door.
The next day Wayne very kindly drove us to Rugby, we picked all the pieces and transported them to our site. I had a plastic bag for all the nuts and bolts and any special bits so it could be put together again.
Sunday after lunch myself and Frank went to the allotment and started working. I prepared the ground, put the base down and started putting the individual bars in place. It was a windy day and polycarbon sheets are very light.
Fortunately my very good friend Dave was there as well and came to our rescue. He can build any greenhouse without any instructions, it is amazing. The fact I have a lovely little greenhouse is purely thanks to him.
The Johnson sunflower competition is well established and my plants did quite well. I didn’t have the tallest one this year but I’m sure I had one with the biggest face.
It is larger than a dinner plate and I decided to bring it home because I was afraid that our resident squirrel on the allotment would decide to sample some of the seeds. It lives on the table in our studio so nothing else fits on that table.
Some weeks ago I got my hands on a quantity of large pots and bags of potting compost, after the canabis farm clearance. I managed to pile it all on a small empty plot of land but I knew it needed sorting out. The compost was in flimsy black bin liners and they were already starting to break.
Next step was to fill my old bags from garden compost or horse muck – I never throw any bags away, my motto is – they will come handy one day. And they did.
It took a number of days but the result is great, all sacks are neatly lined up beside and behind one of my greenhouses and only a few are on the original storage plot. Flowerpots are easy, they look quite neat standing there.