ANOTHER STEP

It was another reasonable day, I knew I wanted to do a lot so I started – after breakfast and a nice strong cup of coffee – by going to my local B&Q to get some potting compost. Us oldies get 10% off on Tuesday, only on gardening things though. I got two huge 125 l bags and took them to the allotment.

When I got home there was the small matter of cutting down the rushes in the pond. I have been putting it off but today was the day. Job done, I’m happy.

I have got two greenhouses on the allotment and the work was done in the older one of the two. I put two of the grow bags on the bench there and started filling them up with the compost. To make sure I have got enough I also used a bag of horse muck in each grow bag, to enrich it. These will be used for growing tomatoes – the whole greenhouse will be just tomatoes, the peppers will be in the half of the poly tunnel I am sharing with Simon.

In order to give each tomato plant the best conditions I put some flowerpots with the bottoms cut off in the bed and filled them with the compost too, just to give the tomatoes exactly what they like – deep soil to develop healthy roots.

Also the greenhouse in the back garden is ready, the same arrangement is there.

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If everything grows this year like it did last year I’ll be happy….

GROW BAGS

I have had these grow bags in the garden greenhouse for about 8 years. They are much better than the standard plastic tomato grow bags – much deeper and very environment-friendly. I just add some fresh compost at the end of the growing year and on it continues. I couldn’t remember where I got them from so I just randomly put a name of a seed company in and – bingo! Found them and ordered some more. Marshalls seed company has them. All I have to do now is wait. The growing rings I have bought years ago at a garden show and they work very well, they sit in the soil and have a ring around the main part, a water reservoir so the water goes directly to the roots.

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GETTING THERE

The weather is still fine so I was able to continue with my winter dig. Most of one of my plots is almost done, there is only a small patch left. When I felt tired after digging I started another job – greenhouse washing. I did the inside the other day when rain stopped play and I finished the job today. The days are getting longer, I was able to stay on the allotment till just after four in the afternoon.

JANUARY

Today is the second of January, another year gone and I’m ready to start one more year of enjoying myself on the allotment, growing an amazing range of vegetables. I have finally harvested the last of the carrots – they are not perfect but the taste is great. I have to cut and peel them, however they look so it doesn’t make much difference. The freezer is full of chopped carrots, ready to be used in stews etc, also grated carrots ready in small bags just enough for a carrot cake.

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I also pulled out some leeks, that emptied one of the beds and as it was a nice afternoon, just the weather for digging, I did just that. If I do a bit each time I go there I will be done in no time.20200102_152126

A NEW HOME…

…for my feathered friends.

I am very happy as one of my Christmas presents was a bird nesting box. I knew exactly where I wanted to put it and it worked. The tree was covered by my evergreen clematis but once I cleared that I found just the right place for the new box. And even better – it will have neighbours, the old box is still there, I just didn’t see it. RSPB says that there can be a few boxes together….if they say that, who am I to argue with.

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All I need now is a little holder for some sheep wool so that the birds can line their new house with something soft and warm. I know just the thing – it looks like an apple with a  lots of holes, it can be stuffed with the wool and as it hangs from the branch nearby the birds can help themselves…

MY PLAN

Only one more day to go and we shall be in the New Year, a new decade. I don’t usually make New Year resolutions but this time I make an exception – I shall get more involved on the allotment. I don’t mean that I would take on more land to cultivate but I will try to organise a spring clear-out, help to hire a skip to get all the rubbish off the site, maintain paths – I’ve got a plan: I want to enter our site in the city-wide competition again. We came third this time so I’d like to think that after some effort we would do better.

We shall get our site on the map!

END OF DECEMBER

I am amazed that I still have some carrots to harvest. I know that parsnips and leeks are fine left in the ground but not carrots. Well, I went down to my ‘farm’ yesterday, the weather was very nice, dry and mild, it was quite easy to dig out some more carrots. I had to stop myself from digging as I thought I wouldn’t manage to take it all home. Fortunately Frank came to my rescue and we had two full large bags of carrots to take home. They are not perfect but not bad either. Very tasty they are!

There were some purple and yellow carrots among my harvest and I remembered that my friend gave me a packet of mixed seeds. The purple ones were completely free of any blemish, no carrot fly damage, altogether pristine. The yellow ones were the same as the usual orange ones. I decided to get a packet of purple seeds, put the theory to test. We shall see. Mr Fothergill company has them, they are Purple Haze. Watch this space next year, they are on order.

The leeks are doing well this year too, I have been harvesting them regularly and I still have quite a lot in the ground. The same with parsnips. I know they don’t look perfect but they more than make up for it in taste.

THIS AND THAT

At last, Saturday was a nice day and so was today. A bit colder but dry!

On Saturday I made my little enclosure for the leaf mould – very simple, four long pieces of wood for the corners and a piece of chicken mesh all around. Pinned to the ground and fixed to the posts, then filled with the leaves I collected from the allotment and the back garden. I will just keep filling it up and leave it for as long as I can.

Today, on Sunday, I was spending some time in the kitchen. First of all I had to cook the beetroot so I could pickle it and then, as an afterthought, made some pickled eggs. I love pickled eggs but always forget to make them. All is well now.

AUTUMN JOBS

The weather forecast for today wasn’t particularly good but I decided to go down the farm anyway. There was a job to be finished and I managed to do that just as the rain started.

All in all I had countless wheelbarrows full of lovely crumbly soil. That got distributed all over the raspberry patch and on the other pieced of land next to them as that is the only part of my plots where I have some clay. This should improve it.

At the same time I have rebuilt the whole enclosure, also the one next to it and thus widened the little path. I can now fit the wheelbarrow to go through and it is looking much better.

To finish the job I emptied four sacks of horse muck on the new heap and also some of the stuff from the top of two of my composter bins. They were all full but I decided to put some of the freshest greenery on the heap and that’ll give me more space in the bins for smaller stuff.

All is done on this front so all I have to do now is to take the roll of the carpet and store it in the large communal shed and have it ready for future use.

Waste not want not….

PATIENCE

I have a number of compost heaps on the allotment – and as I have three plots I have one at the end of each plot. So far I have turned two of these into new growing areas, because the soil there was just amazing, after 10 years in one case and about five in the other.

The latest project started yesterday when I uncovered the last heap – it was covered with an old carpet, just to stop nettles and suchlike growing on top. I was amazed – after five years the whole lot turned into a large pile of crumbly brown soil.

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As it is right at the end of the plot, behind the raspberry patch, that was the easiest solution – use the new soil as a mulch because this patch hasn’t been fertilised recently.

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I have cut them down and started emptying the heap. It was quite easy because when I constructed it I knew I would have to do this one day so I made my life easier. It worked. Surrounding wood taken off and a barrow after barrow was spread on the raspberries. Haven’t finished as yet – rain stopped play. Everything rotted down very well, all I found were some bindweed roots occasionally.

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All the same, I managed to start a bit of rebuilding, I needed to tidy it and also to widen the little path. There is a bit more to do with the last pile of compost, that one will stay as it is for quite a while, there is too much wood on top for it to be useful. But the side will need to be straightened.

Another day then.