WINTER

I don’t much care for snow and all that – getting on a bit, but I was never very sporty, even as a young girl. I was glad I took the top net off from the fruit cage. I went to the allotment on Monday, it was a lovely crisp day, blue skies and a fair layer of snow. I have got a number of net cages there as well, I wanted to make sure I knock the snow off those.

I did that but as I was coming out of the last net cage I managed to trip and fall –  face first into a strawberry bed with a deep snow cover. Just as well I don’t have a photo – the glasses did most of the damage, they were quite out of shape but not broken. My nose was fine – I tweaked it to check for any fractures and all was well.

It didn’t really bleed but the bruises started to form and now I look like a panda. Just as well we are under lockdown, by the time we’ll be able to go out I’ll look reasonable again.

This is the view from my back door – it did look lovely, like a thick layer of icing sugar everywhere. It didn’t last long though.

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GETTING READY

Despite the difficult situation of life with COVID 19 things are looking up on the allotment front. The days are getting longer and that is always something to cheer me up.

I have finished washing my greenhouses, the next thing was to refresh the soil and sort out the supports. After last year’s harvest of tomatoes, aubergines and chillies I took down all the cane supports – it needed re-doing.

I have also decided that ‘less is more’ and will limit each greenhouse to one type of vegetable and will space them further apart.

As I was looking at my Asian pear tree and planning how much to trim it – it has gone rather tall and the top branches are very thin and straggly, I noticed a nest in the fork of two larger branches. It looks a bit scruffy and untidy but it certainly is a nest. Perhaps a pigeon’s nest?

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ANOTHER FIRST

The situation is not going to get much better any time soon so I might just as well pamper myself with some nice things for the allotment. I have been thinking of a propagator for quite a while but always found an excuse not to get one.

I don’t think we shall be getting our COVID 19 vaccination very soon – we’re over 70 but quite well so we’ll have to wait. At least I will have a new toy to play with.

After talking to some people and some online search I decided to get as good one as I could afford and also where I could fit it.

This is the best, and it came today. It didn’t take very long to put it together and sow the seeds in. It is in the spare bedroom and I shall watch with interest.

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YAMS

My friend Dave gave me some New Zealand yams to grow on the allotment. I’ve never tried to grow them and also I wasn’t quite sure how they would like our climate.

They grew well, the foliage looked healthy and it even flowered. It said to try to harvest it after the plant wilted after some frost. Yesterday I pulled out all the little tubers from under one plant. It was quite a good harvest – there are two more plants there.

The next task was to find a recipe. Anything can be found online, I did and we had it tonight for our tea, with some giant couscous. It was a very simple recipe,  oven roasted with some orange juice and rind and a drizzle of honey.

Delicious! I must remember to save a few of the little tubers for next year.

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NEW TOOLS

Right at the end of last year I read an article in one of the broadsheet newspapers about a different range of gardening tools. This new company is called Implementations and I had a good read, looked through the catalogue and ordered a couple of hand tools. They arrived today and I am delighted. Even better than I imagined. They would make great present for a keen gardener.

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BABY BLANKETS

I have got one tried and tested crochet pattern for a baby blanket. In these difficult times I decided to spread a little happiness in the form of a blanket. In the beginning I made full size blankets to snuggle under but before Christmas I got some baby wool and the result is very good, I’m happy with it.

I’m ready for the first baby to arrive – will carry on making them as necessary, got more wool ready.

CHRISTMAS

These cacti are quite old now but they never fail, within a day or two they always flower around this time. I have read somewhere a long time ago that it is best not to move them so they have been sitting in the porch all this time. It seems to work.

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A BIT OF COMFORT

Most of my gardening jobs are done and now bad weather stopped play. I need to have something to do – I’m keeping my other indulgence, books, to the evenings.

It is my blankets. Way back I started making them out of crocheted squares and then lined them as I didn’t want the ‘not so nice’ side to show. The next step are these latest ones. As the lockdown started I found an online wool company and ordered a bag of wool in a variety of colours. That was the start of a new line in blankets, I’m very pleased with the result.

JOB IS DONE

My efforts were perfectly timed, the front garden is all but sorted out. There are some little patches that I will return to but all in all I’m happy with the result.

The easiest bit was the tidying up of the paving slabs and re-laying of bricks, just a bit of hard graft. Once this was done I started tackling the weeds. It is amazing how quickly they spread – as if they knew that I took my eye off them. Anyway, I have timed it just so – our garden waste wheelie bins are going to be collected this Friday and I have managed to fill three of them. I’m lucky my friend next door has two so I use those when I need to.

Most of the established plants are doing well, especially the conifer – I brought it here when we first moved in in 1973, it was a tiny seedling from my mother-in-law’s garden. Looking good I’m pleased to say.

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All it needs is from time to time to cut the very top and perhaps trim some of the branches.

The other side of the garden has my favourite tree – the loquat. This is one of a number I managed to grow from seeds. Years ago we went on holidays to Istanbul and had the loquat fruit for desert. It looked and tasted like a very nice crisp apple. The seeds germinated very well and I have another one in the back garden. I have no chance of any fruit on it though, it flowers towards the end of the year and the fruit appears in February. It is a very handsome tree all the same.

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I am using it as a climbing frame for my clematis montana.

There is a bit of colour in the garden, even on a dreary day like today. The hydrangea looks good and the cyclamen in my pot is just coming into flower. A bit of encouragement to continue.

RECLAIM AND RE-USE

Another occasion for therapy today. As the situation continues and we are in Tier 3, there is not much chance for us going anywhere for Christmas. Never mind the food, decorations and all that – it is the human contact I miss. A big hug is worth a huge lot. We shall have to wait a bit longer.

In the meantime I get rid of my frustration in the garden. Not just little hoeing but a full on revamping action. My friend had some work done in her loft and had quite a few bricks going begging. She knows me very well -she  left them outside our gate and just in a few days they have been utilised.

It was the turn of my front garden, more exactly, the space under our bay window. I had a wooden tub there, a half barrel really, planted up with a variety of bulbs. I changed it from time to time but now was the time to sort it out. It was in a state of collapse. One thing led to another and a few days later the whole area is cleaned and tidy, bricks used to enlarge the path and the collapsed tub will be burned as soon as the bits of wood dry out.

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This is just the start of work in this half of the garden, I will continue on another day.

I had to sort out the other side of the path and in this way used the rest of the bricks, cleared some invasive plants and weeds so this side of the garden is done.