WINTER ACTIVITIES…

…are very useful. Apart from a few parsnips still in the ground all my digging is done. It is maintenance time now. The second greenhouse is done, beds are ready to start growing so now I have to get down to repairs etc.

This path was always to be the next one to sort out. It is between two of my plots so it is important that I can walk there without being afraid that I’ll slip.

I had some more pieces of wood left (most likely salvaged from someone’s demolition of a bed), they were just the right size to support the edges and the rest was easy. We’re in the process of having the trees at the back of the site, outside the new-ish fence trimmed to the height of the fence and at the same time we have the wood chip deposited in the top corner of the site, on an unused plot. A win – win solution.

JOB FINISHED

At last!

Yesterday I managed to line the new greenhouse with bubble plastic, started one bed and filled it with horse muck and some soil improver. Today was the day to finish the job – created another bed and a little one at the back of the greenhouse and placed two barrels under the little down pipes to catch the rainwater.

They are already working, I found out that placing them at the back wasn’t working so I had to move them to the front.

Job done and I’m happy. Can’t wait for spring to come!

 

 

 

 

 

MANY HANDS MAKE LIGHT WORK

I had a call from my friend as she was working on the allotment – there is a pile of wood chippings here by the front gate. As soon as I got home, after a light lunch myself and Frank went there and between the three of us we shifted it. Used some of it to finish Irene’s path, put some on another path and the rest is in a heap to be used as and when.

 

Great job done!

SCENTED RECYCLING

It is true when we say – it is not what you know but who you know. As it happens I know a guy who is a tree surgeon and he has some wood chips from time to time. Tuesday was the day he brought a truck-load of it to the allotment gates and myself and Frank worked ever so hard to transfer it to the right places.

 

PAMPERING…

..and talking to my plants certainly works. If a certain member of the royal family can do it, so can I.

There are two schools of thought as far as looking after tomatoes is concerned – take the leaves off or don’t. I go with the first one and it seems to work.

To be honest, I was feeding them with a mix of seaweed extract, comfrey tea and the liquid from my wormery. On top of than I topped the soil in the grow pots with Farmyard manure and soil improver from B&Q. Something must have worked!

The squashes are climbing well up and along the structures I’ve constructed for them, they have also been fed with the seaweed extract and some Fish, blood and bone.

And of course, all of them get encouragement from me!!

WEEDING

It is well and good to have the rain and heat, everything grows but certain plants grow better than other – like weeds.

It feels like painting the Forth bridge but even they don’t have to do this any more ! I, on the other hand, have to carry on with the weeding. I have finished the onion and garlic beds today – I wonder how long they’ll stay like this.

From this

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to this

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Only time will tell.

HIMALAYAN LILY

It is getting very exciting in the back garden. My one and only Himalayan lily bulb has decided to flower – after about three years just sitting in the ground doing not a lot. even though I fed and pampered it.

It all started rather slowly and I didn’t think much of it. I moved it from its last position (where it didn’t do anything) to a large flowerpot full of rich soil and the improvement was sudden. I also feed it with either chicken manure pellets or the liquid from my wormery. Something works, it reached a height of 120 cm today and I hope it continues further.

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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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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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PLANTING TIME…

…is here again.

I tend to do my planting back to front but it always works out. This occasion is no different.

Last Sunday afternoon I listened to one of my favourite programmes – Gardeners’ question time on Radio 4 and among other topics they were talking about apple trees. Well, you can’t have too many so I decided to pay attention. It was worth it. I’ve never heard of an apple called Keswick codlin; that didn’t stop me, found it and liked the sound of it. Even found a nursery, decided on the size and shape of the tree and ordered.

The nursery was a new one to me – Ashridge nurseries – and I am delighted with the service. They had my apple in stock, the size I wanted and no sooner did I order it then it came perfectly wrapped.

Then came the thought – where shall I plant it? I decided that I had enough trees on the allotment already so I started thinking of the best place in my back garden. And I found it. I had an almost empty raised bed beside the greenhouse, in a sunny spot and well sheltered by the fence. The soil there is good but I still added some organic matter and Fish, blood and bone meal, just to give it the very best start and all was ready.

All’s well that ends well, my latest tree is already in its position, hazel pole in situ,  carefully tied using soft ties (old cut up socks – you can’t beat them for softness and stretchiness).

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