STRAWBERRIES

We have got our first harvest of strawberries! I have a feeling that it is quite early but for that I shall have to check my notes. No problem, I am grateful for the unexpected bounty. They not only look good but the taste is exquisite. Yet again I think of my Granddad, his strawberries were amazing but I think mine are not too far behind.

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They should be dark red and shiny. Very tasty indeed. Granddad would be pleased.

 

FLOWERS ON THE ALLOTMENT

I don’t have the mason bees there this year, I have moved them to my back garden. But we have lots of bees there anyway; Mary, who lives at the back of the allotment, keeps bees. She has a number of bee hives and we had some honey from her last year. That is one of the reasons why I have some flowers on my plot.

The lupins are wonderful, all grown from seeds and the bees love them. The rose bush was free from a gardening magazine some years ago, it only cost the postage. Well worth it.

It is not only flowers that are in full bloom, loganberries and blackberries are doing well too. I’m hoping for a good harvest, we need some cheer!

ANOTHER FIND

I have been finding bits of clay pipes on the allotment but this one is special. It has got a name stamped on it and the surface feels glazed, somewhat creamy yellow and smooth.

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We did a bit of detecting online and found something. It is quite clear the maker’s name is John Horne and in the attached document he can be found on page 12. This is the very first time my find had a name on it. I will send an email to the authors of this document, attach my photo and hope to get an answer.

WE’RE FULL

This is the final look, for now at least. I have managed to move some seed trays to my overflow plastic greenhouse at the back of the large one, gained more shelf space and placed two more large pots there. Two more tomato plants have a new home.

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The main greenhouse is full to bursting

And to make sure all possible little space and container is used, I have got some first early potatoes in bags in the overflow greenhouse. They are the Swift variety and doing very well.

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RE-ARRANGING

This time it was the turn of the big greenhouse in my back garden. This is where I grow all my seedlings that I later transport to the allotment and either plant them in one of the two greenhouses there or out in the open.

I needed to plant out the aubergines and some tomatoes and peppers so I moved some trays with seedlings into the veranda, ready to be taken to the allotment. The phrase – re-arranging deckchairs on the Titanic came to mind. It was just like that but the result is exactly what I was hoping for.

Fortunately I still have some of the large flower pots (that I found when some cannabis growers dumped them), so I filled them with soil and planted some aubergines and a selection of tomatoes.

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As I will move more trays out, I will move more pots in (I still have some in store). I hope for a great harvest.

AND NOW FOR SOMETHING NEW

A little while ago I have received an unexpected present from my daughter-in-law Kim, it was a cheese making kit. I have heard of them but never had an opportunity to try it. Here was my chance.

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After reading it all very carefully I decided to make ricotta. I made sure I had all the ingredients ready and started.

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The recipe calls for 8 pints of milk – I didn’t want to use that much so I halved the amounts. All was fine but in the end it didn’t make very much curds and the whey didn’t look like whey should but like milk. I decided to rescue the situation by repeating the whole process and used the full amount of citric acid. It worked, it all looked as it should and the result is a full bowl of delicious ricotta.

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It will keep in the fridge for a number of days and I will make ricotta gnocci, as I have managed to get some Italian 00 flour.

AND FINALLY

Today is a bit special – I have finished all my digging, any empty piece of land is dug over, cleared of weeds and ready to be planted up.

It was the very last part of the allotment, my new orchard. The ground there will be used to grow courgettes, squashes and pumpkins. There is enough space between the trees, I had them there last year and it worked very well.

 

All that work didn’t really take too much time, it was just a question of turning the soil over and getting rid of some persistent weeds.

One more activity today, rather easier –bread making. This loaf is very easy, doesn’t need kneading or yeast, just a can of beer. Delicious!

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JOB DONE

I  was hoping to finish clearing the polytunnel today and I think the job is just about done.

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The only job left for tomorrow will be to pull out the remaining roots, fork it all over again, spread some horse manure on it and wait for the cucumber seedlings to get a bit bigger before I can plant them there.

8.APRIL

It was a beautiful day today, just like a summer’s day so I decided to make a day of it. I made myself a flask of coffee, took a couple of slices of the bread I made yesterday, bottle of water and a banana and went to the allotment. I wanted to do a lot there and I think I managed. I finished sowing parsnips and carrots and also planted four rows of second early potatoes.

All this took quite a while, the ground was really dry and hard. I never thought I would be wishing for rain.

After a short break I continued with parsnip sowing – we shall have six lines of them. This year I took my time and sowed the seeds very slowly, fairly thinly so I wouldn’t need to thin the seedlings out. It worked and I made one packet of seeds go rather far. Then I did three more rows of carrots so all in all we shall have plenty of vegetables.

As the last job in the afternoon I decided to tackle the newly erected polytunnel.

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This was the sight that opened before me. Not very encouraging but everything is manageable.

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This is the better look, after turning the lawn-like surface over. The plan is to get to it tomorrow and clean out all the roots and clumps of grass, then spread a couple of sacks of horse muck, dig it in and wait for the right time to plant some cucumbers there.

RESCUED POLYTUNNEL

A couple of years we had a new guy on the allotment, young-ish, with a lovely wife and two children. We were pleased because our little community needed more people. He started well, clearing his plot and then one day he got a polytunnel. Quite a large one, 14 ft long, with a number of net windows on each side. He even got a group of his friends to put it up for him – he was standing and giving orders, they worked like Trojans! Next we knew he took the plastic cover off and just flung it into the tree at the end of his plot. He didn’t actually grow anything in it. And that was the last any of us saw of him.

Forward a few months – the above mentioned plastic cover was now scrunched up inside the metal structure, it was in the way of another guy’s work, as the wind blew it in his land. I decided to take matter into my hands, straightened it up, placed the zip entrance in the correct position and started pulling it over the frame. Of course, I chose a breezy day, I was in danger of being lifted up, cover and all. But after a few attempts I managed. I dug a little trench all around and buried the bottom of the cover, compressed it and even hammered in a few large pegs at intervals for extra security. It will be ideal for growing cucumbers.

That done I started planting the seedlings I brought from home. First of all some lettuce and broad beans, in one of my net tunnels. I did sow broad beans as usual in the autumn, they grew well and all of a sudden something ate them. Never mind, they can be started in the spring too.

Next came carlin peas. I started growing them a few years ago, not for eating fresh but for drying them – they are excellent in soups and stews. They are planted in my biggest net cage, all along the sides as they like to climb up. That way it will keep them protected from birds and they will cling to the net. I did it this way last year and it worked very well.