ALL GO

It all seems to go well, hope I don’t speak too soon. I was able to work on the allotment quite a lot these last few days and it looks rather good. I still think that the weeds have got it in for me – as soon as I have finished one patch I have to go and start again.

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Started earthing up the potatoes, they are looking good –  if all fails we shall have spuds. I am glad I moved my strawberries into my huge raised beds. They are protected and all are flowering well, just hope we don’t get any late frost.

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It is not only fruit and veg but also some flowers. I am trying to have as many as I can to encourage the bees and I think it works.

A VERY BUSY DAY

I am sure the first of many. If the weather forecast is to be believed we shall have a sunny Bank holiday weekend – whatever next!!

I made most of the lovely day, took some lunch with me to the allotment in order not to waste any time and worked almost till 4pm.

One of the jobs I have is to cut the grass on the paths – I am getting there. It is rather handy as I use the grass to mulch my raspberries. It not only looks good but it is much easier to walk. Unfortunately I have to do it with my shears – somewhat backbreaking but needs must.

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Next came some planting. I have got a fig tree on the allotment already but as they grow quite well from cuttings I shall have a few there. Today was the day to plant another little one and hopefully in the autumn or next spring I shall have a few more.

I’m lucky to have my little greenhouse on the farm and today I started planting my tomato plants there. Some years ago I got some grow rings that were meant for grow bags but I use them in the open soil in the greenhouse and they are just perfect!

Last two years I grew some huge squashes, they managed to climb up on my structures I constructed for them but as one of the large ones – zucca da marmelata – weighed 7 kilo, the whole structure collapsed. The zucca was unharmed but I had to think of something else. I just happen to have a very nice neighbour who is changing some decking in his garden so I have used the horizontal pieces from the banister and the result is just what I wanted.

I will plant one zucca in each corner and they can climb as much as they want, this structure will support them.

And the last job was to plant some cabbages in one of my net tunnels – pigeon protection! I had them outside for quite a while so they are used to the temperature.

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A RAINY DAY

I got used to the idea that the exceptional nice weather has gone but I didn’t want this cold and wet day like today. Never mind I thought, I have got jobs I can get on with, like working in the greenhouse and dreaming.

Despite the distinct chill in the air the seedlings in the greenhouse are doing very well, they all look healthy. I have got quite a few pumpkins grown from seeds from Malta

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All of a sudden my tomatoes have started growing – it was a very slow start and I almost gave up but now I think I shall have enough to fill a few of my net cages. I have been growing them in this way and I seem to avoid them being hit by blight.

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One more plant I am delighted with, a Himalayan lily. I bought just one bulb a number of years ago at a country fair. So far it didn’t do anything, just produced beautiful shiny leaves but on careful reading I shall have to wait a bit more to get a flower. It looks especially good his year so I am hopeful.

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It was growing in the open ground but didn’t like it very much. Moving it into a large pot with rich soil certainly improved it. As I was replanting it last autumn I managed to detach a few scales from the main bulb and planted them on the allotment in my mixed flower bed. I’m delighted to say that there are at least two lovely shiny leaves appearing.

ALMOST THERE

I think I am catching up with myself. It takes some effort, especially yesterday (Saturday) and today. Friday was a good working day too and after all this effort I am almost done. Yesterday I managed to finish one half of a plot I share with my friend, she did too. On my half I have more raspberries, two rows of potatoes and the rest is ready with structures for growing climbing beans. It was very successful last year, I have only just finished the last of the dried beans.

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This is my more unusual find – marbles. Last year I found at least a dozen and thought that I would get no more. These were in the same area as last year. No idea how they got there but I like them.

Today I completed another net cage – it was a sorry-looking greenhouse without glass that Simon gave me last year. We placed it between my fruit cage and the large brassica cage – a perfect fit. It took an hour to do it – I have got a tried and tested method. More covered ground to grow things that our greedy pigeons would love to eat.

 

I also finished sowing some more carrots, parsnips and beetroot, so this plot is finished too. All that is left is one half where I will grow my courgettes and pumpkins.

SUNNY DAY

I was reading my notes from last year, trying to see how behind I am with my planting. The result? At least two weeks. Never mind, my activity on Wednesday and today (18th and 20th April) almost caught up with last year.

One more plot finished, of course the same goes for this one as for the first one – the net cages are empty but the greenhouse in the back garden is filling up with seedlings that I will start transplanting as soon as the weather stabilises.

There are parsnips, strawberries, broad beans, globe artichokes, garlic and potatoes on this plot and one pear tree and two apple trees. The fig tree in front of the shed is doing well and my plan is to plant some more rooted cuttings of the fig there as well thus creating a little orchard. Who would have guessed that I would be able to grow and harvest figs!

BUSY DAYS…

….are ahead.

It looks like the spring is finally here and work on the farm is getting done – bit by bit.

Even though we had a lot of rain our site drains quite well – there are a few clay patches but on the whole all is fine. It was a pleasure to sow my seeds today – 2 lines each of beetroot Boltardy, Chioggia and Detroid 2 and also 2 lines of Salsify. This will be interesting as I’ve never grown this vegetable. One of my plots is finished.

Another plot has 7 lines of carrot Flakkee but some space remaining, yet one more plot has 7 lines of parsnips and a bit more space. All will be filled as soon as I can plant all my potatoes.

Watch this space!

BROAD BEANS

Last October I did what I usually do that time of year – decided to sow one long bed of broad beans. They started growing well, got to a certain size and then the pigeons noticed them. The wretched birds just stripped them completely bare, only little twigs remained in the ground. I know I should have protected them but I never needed to do that in the past.

Never mind, I had loads of beans left so I started them in little individual cells, they grew well and I had them standing in the veranda for the past two weeks, just to get them used to the weather.

Today was the day to plant them out on the allotment.

Everything could have been done quickly, the soil was just right but then I had to construct some kind of a cage to drape the net over.

One lot of the beans is planted in one of my raised beds so that was much easier. Never mind, all is done so now I can hope for good weather and plentiful harvest later.

RHUBARB

At last!! I have pulled a number of beautiful rhubarb stems but unfortunately I don’t know the variety. This crown has been on the allotment for a number of years, it looks quite established but it is not too big so I don’t have to divide it yet.

The soil was quite warm and getting dry so I started sowing my parsnips – 7 lines(you can’t have too many parsnips!) Also a long line of Swiss Chard, the brilliant white variety.

APRIL

I was beginning to think that nothing will grow and the weather will stay miserable like this for ever.

All seems to be getting better. Even though the day started with a steady rain, the late afternoon improved and I was finally able to go down the farm early in the evening. The clock going forward one hour is, after all, good for something.

I couldn’t do anything there, the ground is very wet. The lettuce needed watering in the greenhouse, they are doing well. After I finished that I did walked around, just to see how things are getting on. And they are!

I did some pruning during the last months of the winter and it shows. I think we might have some fruit this year – if we don’t get any late frost, of course. My two pear trees and the plum responded very well.

The gooseberries are doing well and the rhubarb surprised me, only a couple of weeks I couldn’t see anything.

UNDER A BLANKET

I was looking at my seed collection and grew more and more frustrated. It is all fine to see that parsnips could be sown from February onwards. Well, that would have been rather difficult as the weather was against me.

Never mind, yesterday was a lovely sunny day so I made sure the piece of ground where the parsnips are going to grow is weed – free (quite a challenge, they seem to grow at the rate of knots!) and covered it with a piece of horticultural fleece. I’m sure it will worm the soil and I shall be able to sow one of my favourite vegetables.

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That done I turned my attention to the greenhouse. There are raised beds on both sides and a small one at the back. I added some more soil from my composter bins and now they are ready. Fortunately I have a large plastic cloche to cover one of the beds so I planted some lettuce seedlings there. That way we can have some early Icebergs.

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Last but not least I prepared another small raised bed that is beside the greenhouse, put a bag of old horse muck in and covered it with a thick layer of good soil, this is now ready for one pumpkin. I have high hopes for my latest acquisition, seeds from a Maltese pumpkin. I’ve seen them in Malta, now the challenge is to grow them as big as they were there.

In the past few years I had four raised beds with strawberries but one in particular is getting a bit old, they didn’t produce very much fruit. I have decided to dig them out, used some of the best runners to fill gaps in other strawberry beds and this one is now ready to be planted with broad beans. I have started them in the greenhouse in the back garden. They will be sheltered in this bed, I can plant them there a bit earlier.

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