What a difference a day makes – it was sunny and quite mild in the morning and I felt much happier straight away. I’m a fair weather person, if I could choose I would ban snow and dark evenings. Never mind, I just have to put up with it, wait for the shortest day and after that all will gradually improve.
I went to the allotment with the idea to finish weeding a reasonable piece of land – that was the orchard. It is right at the end of one of my plots, in front of the shed. I’ve got a good selection of fruit trees – a few figs, a couple of apples, pear and two plums.
We had a very good harvest this year and as I started working there I remembered what my Granddad always said – keep an area the size of the crown of the tree clear of weeds around the trunk. I did that and also decided what I will put in between the trees. I will scatter some summer-flowering plants and beside the net tunnel I will put some wigwams with sweet peas.
The rain was very good for me, the soil was soft but not water-logged, we have very good drainage on the whole site. It also helps to be on a slight slope.
As I was weeding I also mended the net cage, this is the very first one but it keeps going. It just needed to pull the weeds from the end of it and fix the pegs again. I’m sure it will last another few years.
I had another surprise plant growing there – the physalis with the blue flowers. I have tried to search for it, all I found was the plants with yellow flowers but not this one. The search continues.
Even though the spring was nothing to write home about, the harvest was fine. The vegetables coped well with the cold spring and not a very great summer and the harvest was good, apart from the carrots. Germination was poor and I made sure the ground was stone free. I tried three times, in the end I got two rows of reasonable carrots. I don’t think I was alone with this problem, other allotment holders experienced the same. Never mind, there is always next year.
Soft fruit was great, apples also. The figs were rather disappointing, certainly the cold spring affected them. There are countless immature figs on all my trees but I don’t have a chance to harvest them now, even though it is still quite mild. The days are getting shorter and they need the light.
I wasn’t quite sure about dedicating a fairly large part of the plot to the orchard but now I’m sure that it was the right decision. I have a couple of apple trees there, a pear, two plums and figs – one large bush and two small ones. All three are from cuttings. Some time ago I found this out by chance – I was pruning the original large fig tree in my back garden and I put a number of the branches in pots, just in case they might take. They surprised me and grew. I have given away a number of rooted fig cuttings to different people and right now have four more growing in pots in the back garden. The one big advantage is that these cuttings have the embryo figs on already so would be ready to develop them to full size fruit once they start growing. My cuttings fruited even as quite small bushes.
It was the turn of the orchard to be weeded. Not a lot to do there, I had bean structures in between the trees so there weren’t too many weeds.
If I do a section of the plots every time I go to work there I will soon finish it all. There are jobs I’m leaving to the very end, like refreshing the strawberry beds.
It is the time of year when fruit is abundant and I start thinking of making more jam. One of the favourites is a spiced blackberry and apple jam, it has a lovely taste reminding you of Christmas.
My next jam I wasn’t too sure about because the weather was so difficult in the spring. I have had the fig tree in the garden for more than 30 years and it never disappoints. I pruned it early in the spring as the instructions said, it was getting too tall and some of the fruit on the furthest branches was wasted, I couldn’t reach it even with the picker. I could see quite a lot of little figs and was hoping that a good few of the will ripen. For quite a while it didn’t look like it, I think the cold spring affected it a lot. But the other day I had a very pleasant surprise – I saw a large ripe fig and when I had another good look I saw even more of them. In the end I picked 1,5 kilo of them, enough ro make five jars of jam. This jam is a pure delight.
Again I had to do a bit of tidying up in the back garden – the large fig tree dropped all its leaves and the whole corner was looking a bit sad and unloved.
It just took one day – one morning and one afternoon session and all is much better. All the leaves are composted now, path is re-done, weeds pulled out as much as I could and this corner is ready for the overwintering.
I have finally managed to tidy my big greenhouse in the back garden. It was very full – there was a reason for it. When the lockdown started I was afraid that I might not be able to go to the allotment and decided to grow extra plants in the big greenhouse here. In the end I had loads of aubergines and cucumbers – I’m not complaining!
The time came now to sort it out. I did all that and have got two large grow beds on each bench inside. On one side I have lettuce seedlings and on the other are onions. I had some onion seedlings already, they are spaced in one of the beds and in the other are newly sown onion seeds. It will be interesting what will happen.
The next job was to take cuttings. I have got a large loquat tree that I managed to grow from seed. I found out how to take cutting so I had a go. I can’t even hope to have any fruit from it in our climate but it is such a handsome tree I’d like some more.
After that there was one more job – some fig cuttings. That was quite easy, I have done it before. Let us hope for the best.
I keep harvesting my figs every other day. I have got the original old fig tree in the back garden and I still remember thinking when I planted it – it is a pipe dream, I won’t get any fruit on that, not here in the Midlands. Forward about 35 years and the harvest is quite amazing. We get figs every year and I also managed to strike a few cuttings. I have got one large one and three smaller ones on the allotment, they are all giving fruit very generously.
The best way I could think of was to bottle them in red wine. Then we have a continuous supply of delicious desserts ready for the winter!
It is not just the allotment that keeps me busy, it is my back garden as well. I have an old mulberry tree there, it was given to me by my late mother-in-law when we moved to this house in 1973. I had to move it to this position after a few years as I could see it was growing rather large. In the last five or so years I decided to pollard it and that seems to restrict the growth. Basically I remove the new long branches every autumn and very often I can take a large bundle of them to the allotment, they would grow freely, nice and straight and serve as bean poles later. That’s what I call recycling!
By doing that it opens the garden and I can see my rescued chimenea and also the birds can get to their water and the feeding table.
Last of all I trimmed the old magnolia. There is a large fig tree in that corner and it needs cutting down to size – everything has grown like a mad this year – but that has to wait till at least January, now is not the time to prune fig trees.
This is the start, next will be cutting the reeds in the pond, topping up pots with extra soil – the list is endless.
The weather was rather uncertain today so I got busy harvesting as much and as quickly as I could. Difficult to choose where to start as everything is doing so well. I must have done something right at the start of the year to get this kind of harvest – in just a few hours in the morning. Not only in the greenhouse in the back garden – the aubergines are amazing, the very first time for me.
They made a delicious aubergine parmiggiana. The allotment is producing huge amounts of beetroot, courgettes and other goodies – the fig tree there is only a few years old but has some tasty figs.
For the first time I have so many tomatoes I have been making tomato soup every few days.
I have decided to plant more fruit trees. I have got enough land for growing vegetables so the next sensible thing to do is to plant some fruit trees. I have got a few there already so I had this pleasant task to choose some more. In the end I selected two nurseries, Ashridge nursery and Walcott organic nursery. I am delighted with my new trees. Both nurseries kept me informed about delivery dates and today was the day – both orders came very soon one after another. I had everything ready and as I write all the trees are already in their new home.
Not only do I have now two apple trees, a pear and a plum tree but also another fig tree. Only a small one but from experience I know they grow fast.
I have a large old (about 30 years) fig tree in the back garden and all the other ones are cutting from it. I thin it out every year in February and push some of the branches in soil – at least one roots. Consequently I have four fig trees on the allotment, one of them quite large and I had quite a lot of fruit from it.