PATIENCE

I have a number of compost heaps on the allotment – and as I have three plots I have one at the end of each plot. So far I have turned two of these into new growing areas, because the soil there was just amazing, after 10 years in one case and about five in the other.

The latest project started yesterday when I uncovered the last heap – it was covered with an old carpet, just to stop nettles and suchlike growing on top. I was amazed – after five years the whole lot turned into a large pile of crumbly brown soil.

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As it is right at the end of the plot, behind the raspberry patch, that was the easiest solution – use the new soil as a mulch because this patch hasn’t been fertilised recently.

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I have cut them down and started emptying the heap. It was quite easy because when I constructed it I knew I would have to do this one day so I made my life easier. It worked. Surrounding wood taken off and a barrow after barrow was spread on the raspberries. Haven’t finished as yet – rain stopped play. Everything rotted down very well, all I found were some bindweed roots occasionally.

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All the same, I managed to start a bit of rebuilding, I needed to tidy it and also to widen the little path. There is a bit more to do with the last pile of compost, that one will stay as it is for quite a while, there is too much wood on top for it to be useful. But the side will need to be straightened.

Another day then.

3.OCTOBER

My plots were judged for the second time early in September, the usual in the city allotment competition. Now I can try and forget all about it as we won’t find out the result for some time. Today was one day that we didn’t have rain so I went down the allotment, just to see if there is anything else I could harvest. There always is!

My beetroot is just amazing – I can’t remember what I did to prepare the ground but it  worked. This is certainly the best harvest I have had in all my years growing veg there.

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Not just the beetroot, it is everything else – the last of the sweetcorn, runner beans, giant carrots and the best of all – raspberries! These are the autumn fruiting variety and they keep on giving.

Getting the second greenhouse certainly was worth it – another generous picking of tomatoes.

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You can’t beat a home-made tomato soup!

LATE RASPBERRIES

An amazing harvest! I planted just a few canes of Autumn treasure about three years ago and this is their best year so far. The canes are around 5 ft tall so picking the fruit is very easy. And the berries are huge.

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They are very tasty, there is a lot more to come.

 

SOME MORE

Thanks to my friend I have got more wood – a dismembered large pallet so I was able to continue with my path renewal.

 

However I shall have to stop for a while, I don’t have any more wood chip. Never mind, I could just prepare the sides and fill the path as and when I get some more.

At the same time I sorted out the raspberry patch and as I was finishing it started to rain. Perfect planning.

THE ORCHARD…..

…..is finished.

Thanks to my lovely family I amassed quite a bit of money in Garden vouchers so on Monday, a few days ago, I had a big spending day.

I knew what I wanted to get – one plum and one gage tree -I knew I had only enough room for two more trees.

Our local nursery visited, trees purchased and delivery arranged (they wouldn’t fit in my little car, together with 3 bags of potting compost and 2 support poles for the said trees). Delivery was arranged for Wednesday – today – and I’m very happy to say that as I write this the trees are in their new home.

I also covered a few crowns of rhubarb as it started growing already. And the last bit – the raspberry patch is done – I took my eye off last year and it turned into a jungle. No more, all is trimmed, dead growth cut, ready to fruit again.

I am happy.

BIT BY BIT 2.

During this time of year there will be many more installments in this category. Today was the turn of my newest raspberry patch. It was on this existing plot (no.3 in my collection) when I took it over but in a poor state. I must have dug it over and over at least six times and I’m still battling with the weeds. But not just the weeds.

Raspberries are well-known for spreading their roots and mine are no exception. I have to remind myself to be ruthless and thin them out.

Alas, the weather is still so mild I might have to weed this patch again before long.

There are benefits too. I kept the tomato plants going in the greenhouse, they had some green tomatoes on and the result is

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this tasty tomato – Costoluto Fiorentino. There might be a few more. The greenhouse is not totally draft-proof but obviously keeps the plants warm enough.

AUTUMN TASKS

I live this time of year. Even though the days are getting shorter and nothing much grows now – except the dreaded weeds!!! – I find all the work very satisfactory. My favourite description of my state of being is self actualisation. This is one of the theories that stuck in my brain from the nursing training days – Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

I started with a patch of raspberries and rhubarb at the end of one of my plots. To say that it looked neglected is an understatement. It is one of the places I meant to tackle but something else always got in the way. Today was the day.

It looks lovely in the first photo but the other two show how well the weeds grew. Never mind a plant encyclopaedia, I should get one on weeds! Anyway, this job is done and tomorrow, weather permitting, will be another busy day.

I also harvested another yacon plant. The foliage is beginning to show signs of frost but it doesn’t matter, the tubers are fine in the ground.

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I like to eat them raw, just scrubbed clean and peeled. They taste sweet but in reality they are quite special. They contain inulin.

READY FOR THE WINTER

My Grandma was, and still is, my inspiration in the realm of cooking and preserving.

She was the old school – no fridge in her days, it was a walk-in larder with a stone floor, no freezer either so any preserving for later was done by bottling. I’m tot quite sure if she ever used the salting method but I’ll have a look at it anyway.

Granddad had a plot of land where he grew a huge variety of fruit and Grandma bottled it and made jams. I think they would both be pleased how I try to follow in their footsteps.

 

It is rather easy – all you need is some Kilner jars, a large pan to use as a water bath and fruit of course.

One idea for the use of all these was – summer pudding. Not sure if it is still being made but it is rather yummy.

I can see having summer pudding at Christmas – what a lovely idea.

SPRING IS HERE…

…I hope. Today was a beautiful day and it would’ve been a pity to stay inside.

After lunch I made myself a flask of herbal tea and went down the allotment. I knew there wasn’t too much to do, just clearing the weeds from the raspberry patch. In the end it was quite easy – the rows are fairly well organised, paths between them are covered with strips of pond liner so the weeds at least don’t invade them. I was pleased that I managed to clear the whole patch.

The days must be getting longer – I finished around 4pm and it was still light – good enough to carry on working – but no energy left, alas.

Right next to the raspberry patch is my rhubarb – that was done a few days ago. It looks good and I can see new young shoots appearing.

I’ve got a few fruit trees there too – a plum, pear and an apple. The plum is quite young but doing very well indeed – we had 5 huge plums last year.

Here’s hoping for a big harvest this year.

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SLOWLY, SLOWLY..

…and all of a sudden I have got another bit of land. I must say, I’ve given up a part of a plot, close to my raspberry patch – I’ll cover it with some tarpaulin and old carpet to suppress the weeds. This ‘new’ bit is actually the other half of my own plot where I have my fruit cage, net tunnel and a big net cage. It just made sense to add that…..well, it made sense to me, anyway. The guy who gardened on it left and I started as I mean to continue.

There is only a small patch left to dig and I’m done.

All my other plots are ready, I just have to pull out some weeds that dared to appear! The last thing will be to tidy the raspberry plot – before the canes get growing I can trim the edges and weed the rows.

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The weather should be good again tomorrow and I think I might be able to finish it all. One more task – must put a bag of my saved horse manure into each composter bin, to help the breakdown of the material in there.

As I have quite a bit of land I shall grow some annual flowers – it’ll add extra colour and also attract bees to the plants.