30. JANUARY

I was hoping for a good day and it turned out even better than yesterday. I went to the allotment soon after 9 in the morning and got digging. Because I was busy with the compost yesterday I only managed to dig a small strip of the last plot. I was hoping that I’d be able to finish it today. This is the plot where I have my latest greenhouse so I knew I could dig only so far. I wanted to leave a meter or two so that I can install the new water butt. 

The first bit of digging was a bit tough, it was the part where I had leeks and a number of sunflowers. Soon after that I was able to use my large hoe (the azada) and that was so much easier. This bit of land had potatoes so as I was harvesting them I already dug it over.

The new greenhouse is very long, they are actually two normal sized greenhouses bolted together in the middle. I have fixed a length of tubing in the guttering of the first one and put a large water butt under it, the second one has to wait because Wayne has to fit some more panes in before I position the other water butt on the corner. It is a different one, on a stand , with a tap. I’m trying to save as much rainwater as I can.

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29. JANUARY

The morning didn’t look very bright, the sky was grey and everything looked a bit dull. But  as the day continued, it all of a sudden warmed up, the sun came out and we had blue skies and a spring-like day. I wasn’t quite sure what job I was going to tackle on the allotment but Mike mentioned yesterday that he worked on his compost. He has got a different set up to me but this gave me an idea. I haven’t emptied my composter bins for some time and today was going to be the day to do it.

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There are five of these black bins here and I put all my kitchen waste there in rotation. It is amazing how quickly all the material goes down. I try to leave them for at least a year, that gives the worms plenty of time to do their job. This time it was just four of these bins and I’m delighted with the result. I always keep all my empty bags from compost and reuse them time after time. Just as well, I managed to fill all of them – eight sacks in all. This will be perfect for my latest long greenhouse, I will build up the beds inside with it.

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It is amazing that the worms manage to turn a load of scraps into something so good.

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The day was so nice I decided to carry on working and as the soil was quite dry I started digging my last plot, the one where my new long greenhouse is placed.

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I could have carried on for some time but thought better of it, I need to conserve my energy for tomorrow, the weather is supposed to be dry. I don’t mind a dull day, as long as it is dry and I can continue working.

28. JANUARY

I am making most of this reasonable weather, that’s why I went to the allotment straight after breakfast. I don’t have much left to do there so I started with lifting the rest of my parsnips. 

They did very well this year and this little harvest will feed us a few times.

This is my best parsnip yet, nice and straight and no blemishes despite being in the ground until now.20230128_131543

Hopefully the weather will stay like today and I will be able to continue working tomorrow. I managed to finish clearing the strawberry beds, the weeds again did very well,  but now all is ready for the new season.

25. JANUARY

Today was the first day where the temperature was above zero. I had the opportunity to clean the fountain in the pond and finish organising the greenhouse. Earlier today I went to B&Q and bought a couple of large trays and that finished my new set up. All is ready to start seed sowing, can’t wait. I think I’ve got enough to fill my allotment many times over but I’ll be trying some new varieties. 

I always wash all my pots as I finish with them so it was very easy to get it all ready. During the clean up operation I also sorted out my little plastic greenhouse behind my large one, this one is just used to store pots and bags of compost, it is rather dark to grow anything there.

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I hope the mild weather will stay, it’ll make the wait for planting times a bit more bearable.

18. JANUARY

We’ve got another cold snap here, a sudden shock to the system but all this is good for the soil. I’m glad, almost all of my digging is done.  I had to go to the allotment, I wanted to empty my kitchen scraps bucket so as I was there I tried to dig out  some of  my last few remaining parsnips. I was lucky – the soil was frozen on the top but it was quite easy to pull some parsnips out. A good thing about the hard soil is that the parsnips come out reasonably clean. I have got some more left, and the new plants – broad beans and garlic are coming up.

Life continues, soon will be time to plant and sow.

All my seeds are sorted out, put into groups , the greenhouse is clean, small pots are ready – all I need is more sunshine, longer days and warmth.

14. JANUARY

I have been very busy in the last few days but haven’t got very much to show for it. My new greenhouse on the allotment is almost finished, my friend Wayne is just waiting to get some more glass and then I can wash the glass and install my grow boxes. That’s what has been my main activity in the last few days. I have decided to move the grow boxes from the greenhouse in the garden to the new one on the allotment. After all, I have got two perfect benches there. I had to empty them first – I forgot how  much soil each box contained. I moved all four of them and altogether I had 14 sacks of soil. A few trips with the wheelbarrow and the job was done. 

Then came the task of washing the garden greenhouse. I didn’t do it quite well in the last few years, the boxes were in the way. But all is done now, looking as good as new.

Also during the last week I have found yet another seed company and as far as I can judge they are exactly what I wanted. The Real seed company even had the large white beans I have been looking for. I grew them years ago, always saving some to grow next year but one year I forgot to save some and couldn’t find them anywhere. This time I’ll be  much more careful. Also some different tomatoes, I’m going to grow quite a few as I have the extra greenhouse space.

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They are very tasty and produce a lot of large white beans.

I have high hopes for the cucumbers too and the other runner beans. Of course I will try to save my own seeds from all these.

8. JANUARY

My New year started well. The weather is reasonably kind to  me and I have been going to the allotment as often as I can. I knew I had a few  jobs that needed doing – finishing the weeding in the fruit cage and tackling the raspberry patch.  This is another job that keeps coming up, never mind how often I do it during the year. To start with I had to cut down all the old canes that bore fruit. This is quite easy, it is clear which ones these are. That done it showed even more all the weeds. I was hoping to do the weeding during one session but that was too hopeful. I finished the job today and I’ll wait and see  how quickly the weeds will start growing. I’m  not cutting corners, all weeds are pulled up. roots and all.

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I also planted the first part of my elephant garlic in the ground, it was growing in a grow box in my garden. I needed to empty the box because I have a plan how to use it better.

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There will  be more to come.

My friend who is a tree surgeon and does  garden clearances asked me if I wanted a greenhouse. Of course I said yes. He said that  he and his men will put it up on my plot. I’ve never seen a greenhouse assembled this fast. He told me that they very carefully dismantled it, saved all the clips, springs and glass so they just reversed the process. They will  need to replace a few panes of glass, it gets rather brittle with age. It is not just an ordinary greenhouse, there are two bolted together.

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I even have two benches inside. This is where the grow  boxes come in, I will have them in the back greenhouse and in the front one I’ll put large flowerpots. I still  have a number of them from the cannabis farm some years ago. Also the position of the greenhouse is such that I’ll be able to stand a line of the large pots outside, it is a perfect sun trap and tomatoes will thrive there.

Waste not want not.

6. JANUARY

I had my usual shopping morning on Wednesday and apart from  the usual few things in the butcher shop I decided to get some fruit. That’s when I found they had Seville oranges – of course, it is marmalade – making time after all. I didn’t get them at the time as I wasn’t quite sure of the quantities. After lunch I thought I’d better go back and get the oranges, didn’t want to leave it for another week as they might sell out.

Later that afternoon with my best recipe in hand I got down to it.

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The whole process is quite labour-intensive but the result is great so it is worth putting up with it. The oranges are boiled first of all and when they cool down, sliced and the flesh scraped out and rubbed through a sieve. 

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The halves are sliced nice and thin, or I cut them with my kitchen scissors because that way I can control the thickness much better.

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All the peel will go here in the large pan with the left over liquid from boiling oranges and the pulp, sugar and lemon juice added and boiled. It is tested on a very cold saucer (kept in the freezer for this purpose) and then potted. 

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Of course I save my jars so this is the best kind of recycling. I made two batches from two kilos of oranges and now have an amazing amount of jars of marmalade.

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I used to make marmalade each year around this time but because of the Covid wasn’t able to get the oranges. All is well  now, this will  keep us going.

2. JANUARY

 Today started as another spring-like day so I was ready nice and early and went to the allotment. The plan was to finish weeding inside the fruit cage and perhaps on the outside as well. It is rather a never ending job. I’m sure I cleared the weeds a few times last year but they were as healthy as before.

I was hoping to finish it all today and I’m pleased to say that I did. The ground didn’t feel too muddy so the weeds came out quite clean. All the same I had about four of the soft garden buckets of them. The main thing is that I managed to finish the job.

I will have to keep an eye on it and stop the weeds from spreading too much.

1. JANUARY 2023

I started the New year the right way – went to the allotment to empty my kitchen scraps and also to check that everything is in order. It was great to be back, the morning was lovely, blue skies and sunshine. It felt almost spring-like but I’m being realistic, the frost will return and I’m not looking forward to it.

All the same, I managed to do a bit of work, gathered the leaves on my path and put them in one of the composter bins and pulled out some parsnips, carrots and leeks, we’ll have lovely chunky vegetable soup. The ground is beginning to dry out so if we don’t have any rain in the next few days I’ll be able to continue weeding the fruit cage. Bad weather before Christmas stopped play.

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This honeysuckle plant was in my Mum’s garden and after she died I moved it to the farm. It seems to like the new position, it is starting to climb around the post on the shed veranda.

Everything else seems fine so from now on it’ll be a bit of work every day. I’m sure I’ll get there.

It’ll be the turn of the raspberries, they need thinning and also cutting out the old fruited canes.