20. MARCH

It was another lovely day today, perfect for some work on the allotment. I started yesterday but because it was so windy I just managed to prepare the ground for sowing my parsnips. The seeds would have been blown all over the site.

It all worked out just fine anyway, Simon had a greenhouse to move from one plot to another – he wanted to have a clear run on that plot in order to work on it with his rotavator. This greenhouse we moved to a plot where he has a polytunnel already so the two structures are side by side. He took the glass out beforehand and it was quite easy to move it.

Today was a better day, sunny and the wind was much lighter. I was glad that I had the ground ready so I could start sowing straight away. First it was parsnips – I cannot imagine not growing parsnips. I went for the tried and tested varieties – Javelin and Gladiator. Every year I try to sow the seeds very carefully to avoid thinning out too much but this year I think I have done it just right. I’m sure we’ll have some great parsnip. Also I waited a few weeks to let the soil warm up more – again in the past I was a bit too quick to start sowing and the germination was poor. Let us hope for better results this year.

Next task was to sow some beetroot and chard. From past experience I know that I have to grow these in a net tunnel because the pigeons we have on the site would eat the very first leaves and I would have no harvest. That happened to me a few years ago and I have been sowing always under a net cover ever since. This is inside my very first net tunnel, I had to do a bit of repair work but I’m sure it is good for another season.

The rest of the space will be used for growing brassicas – red and white cabbage and broccoli, I’ve put down some lime on the soil already.

The last two plots that were unused have  new tenant, Wayne, our friendly tree surgeon who lives next door. He and his Mum keep bees and he has got two of his hives on the plot next to the fence and he’ll be growing on the next one, next to mine. It was a very overgrown plot and he worked magic on it. It is ready for planting. He also planted a few small fruit trees there, his bees will be busy pollinating.

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I was looking at my fruit trees, the pear trees are always the first to start flowering. I just hope we don’t get any late frost.20220320_133753

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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LEAFMOULD

This is the best part of autumn gardening – recycling as much as possible. I had a lot of leaves on my path from the Asian pear. I waited till all of them were on the ground and then I was going to put them into the wire enclosure I made last year. The old leaves there have almost disappeared. This didn’t take very long so I continued with the second part of my plan.

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On my way from home to the allotment I walk through an alleyway beside the local primary school. It is always covered with a mix of different leaves. Each year I think that it would be a great addition to my leafmould pile but never do anything about it. Until this year. It took most of the morning and about six trips with a large sack full of leaves but I think it is well worth it.

I have got a lovely pile of leaves to compost and in a couple of years  I will have something to add to my raised beds in the greenhouses.

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NOVEMBER

Even though we are in November already there is still enough colour in the garden. I love these pale pinks blossoms. There is also one rose flowering, it certainly cheers everything up

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Later today I went to the allotment, just wanted to get some carrots and parsnips. I took some photos there as well, I still have a rose flowering there. The Asian pear is dropping the leaves now and the colour is lovely.

PERFECTION

The last path to be filled with wood chip is ready, the edges are built with planks of wood from a dismantled fencing panel so today I could concentrate on the fruit cage. I’ve had this cage now for a good number of years and it needed sorting out. Some of the blackcurrant bushes were getting too old, they had to go. Blueberries are a super food, I like them and we put them on our porridge every morning so I bought a few new bushes. Early and late varieties and planted them in the cage. I already had some of them there.  Now I have two standard red gooseberries, a redcurrant, two white currants and a jostaberry. That is only a cutting, I haven’t had any fruit from it so I live in hope.

I’m always amazed how well the weeds grow – even though I thought I managed to pull them all out, they came back. I cleared them again. That done, I wanted to put pieces of wood all along the bottom. The netting is buried in the soil and pinned down but this is for extra security, in case some little bird or a mouse should find a gap to get in.

Spring is here, I just hope my Asian pear tree isn’t bursting into flower too soon – we might get some late frosts.

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HARVEST TIME…

…is here again. Even though we didn’t have much rain my harvest was great.  I kept picking courgettes all the time, then carrots started. Now tomatoes are something else – I haven’t had a harvest like this yet and all of them are growing outside, in net cages. Amazing. I made passata, tomato soup, bottled chopped tomatoes for the winter, you name it and I made it. Even though beetroot didn’t germinate very well, I am picking some great ones, my Asian pears are delicious.

 

My little greenhouse on the allotment is well worth the money – never had so many cucumbers!

For the first time I managed to grow aubergines – I have a couple of plants in the greenhouse in the back garden and I have fruit on them! For the first time.20180901_192321

One evening on a walk we saw some black grapes hanging over a fence, we picked some and the result is delicious jelly

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The only downside of it all is that I don’t have enough hours in the day. I’m feeling my age too.

The icing on the cake are my figs.

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I bottled them in red wine, ever so tasty!

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!

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.

LATE HARVEST

I managed to get to the allotment in the afternoon, just after one shower and was very lucky to do quite a lot of work. Finished under a very dark sky, the rain came soon after I got home.

The main thing is the harvest though. I picked two large plastic boxes of raspberries and a few of my Chinese pears. They were good last year but are simply superb this year!

The pear tree is about ten years old. It was used to be in a large tub in the back garden but when I started gardening on the allotment I took it there and planted it on the plot. It didn’t do much in the first two or so years but last year it had quite a lot of fruit.

I thought it might have a break this year but the fruit is even better and certainly bigger.