SOMETHING DIFFERENT

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!20191107_161023

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.

HARVEST

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.

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For the first time I have so many tomatoes I have been making tomato soup every few days.

STARTING AN ORCHARD

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.

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!

FIGS

My fig tree looks settled and happy on the allotment. I think this year we shall have a reasonable harvest; the original tree is in the back garden and gives us a huge harvest each year. I never thought I would be able to grow figs here in the Midlands. The cuttings take well, I have found that I have to be patient. I prune the old tree every February and this year I saved about ten cuttings. Planted them in the bottom of the greenhouse in the back garden and will leave them til next spring. Then I shall dig them out very carefully and plant them on the allotment – the idea is to create a small fig orchard – about 8 to 10 trees.

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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!

FIGS

The fig harvest is here!

Managed to pick 1,3 kg of figs from my trees – one is on the farm and two in the back garden. I never thought I would be able to eat my freshly picked figs – in the Midlands!

Global warming??

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GLUT

I never thought I would say this but yesterday I was trying to find more recipes to use our figs. My fig tree has been in the corner of our back garden for at least 20 years. I bought it as very small and planted it very carefully, following the instructions. I’m sure the tree is paying back now. It has been giving us fruit for the past number of years but this year – something else altogether.

We went to Edinburgh last week for a few days to celebrate our 47th wedding anniversary. Came back Saturday late afternoon so on Sunday I got down to some serious gardening work.

Pick the figs – easy now as I have one of those clever gadgets, a basket on a long pole. I bought it a few years ago and it is worth its weight in gold. I have a number of the attachments but this one I love. The result was amazing – 3 kilos of lovely ripe figs.

What to make? I made some chutney in the past but this time I found a different recipe, this chutney is thick and dark, full of the taste of figs. I think they just need a bit of spice, no other strong ingredients and I am happy.

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Next lot of fruit came from the allotment. The autumn raspberries are doing very well too and I’m sure they’re paying back for the hard work – a number of bags of horse manure, grass cuttings and pruning. I picked 2 kilos of them and there was no question as what to do with them – jam.

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I tried to grow tomatoes in the past but never had much luck. This year I decided to go for outdoor varieties and put them all on the allotment. The majority are in my biggest net cage and whatever plants were left I put them in one of my raised beds. That way they get a bit of protection from the wind. And again – fantasic harvest. The varieties are mainly plum tomatoes and some quite unusual ones, like ‘Red pear’ or ‘Ox heart’.

It is nice to have my kind of problem – what do I do with all the vegetables? With the tomatoes I bottled some, chopped with garlic and rosemary but this time I had so many I had to use another method. Why not passata? I found a very good recipe and it doesn’t waste anything – no need to discard the skins, all is liquidised.

Last but not least – I had some figs left after making the chutney and as a chance would have it, I found a delicious recipe in Saturday’s Guardian. The combination of figs and red wine was just too good to ignore.

All in all – a very good result and it’ll feed us over the winter.

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There was an emergency also – I managed to run out of Kilner jars! As I had to go shopping anyway I stocked up – 13 jars (everything the supermarket had on the shelf!)

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That’ll keep me going for a while, I hope.

 

EXTRAVAGANT!

My fig tree in the back garden is doing very well and I’m ready to harvest the fruit. It amazes me every year that I can grow figs here, that they ripen and that we have so many.

Today I managed to pick just enough for one of my recipes, it is for fig chutney from Really nice recipes. It is only one of many recipes, next time I’ll try another one.

Nice and easy to make and very tasty. It improves with keeping so I have to put it away and wait for a few months .

HARVEST IN FULL SWING

Everything is calm now on the home front so it is back to the farm . I went there today with the plan that I’ll bring home some potatoes as the weather is nice and dry.

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The fuss certainly paid off  when planting them – sharp sand in the bottom of the little trench, some slug pellets and later during the growing season some potato fertiliser.

But not only did I bring home some tasty spuds, I got a box of raspberries, blackberries and tomatoes.

Last but not least – my fig tree in the back garden started giving me fantastic ripe figs. It has been producing loads for quite a number of years but I think this year will be the best.

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