24.SEPTEMBER

It is difficult to believe that we are entering autumn, even though the evenings are getting darker every day. All my harvesting is slowing down, I gathered another box of tomatoes and a few cucumbers but all this will be coming to an end very soon.

I started preparing the ground for planting garlic after watching Monty Don last night. He gave me a great idea and as soon as I got to the allotment I started working on it. I have got four large raised beds and I’ve been growing strawberries there for a number of years. A couple of these beds aren’t producing good enough fruit so they will be emptied, the ground enriched, all in time for planting. Garlic is on order from one seed company but I will try to get some more on Tuesday when I go to town, the stall in the market might have some.

25. JUNE

When I went to the allotment last time I noticed that some raspberries were turning pink. I knew it would be just a few days before another harvest would begin. I was correct. I think I had the last of the strawberries, I had only a small box so when I finished I took the nets off, leaving the beds exposed for the birds to help themselves.

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The loganberries are getting going as well but I’m not going to use them to  make jam, we’ll eat them as I pick them. They are delicious, we have them on our porridge or even as a topping on a sponge tray bake.

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Finally it was the raspberries’ turn.

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The final result was two kilo of the delicious berries and by the evening I had another lot of jam ready.

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11. JUNE

A few days ago I decided I would pick my strawberries every second or third day. Today was the third day so I took my empty boxes to the allotment with the view to pick some strawberries. Well, the boxes were filling up so fast I had to go and search in my shed for some more. I was lucky, found one with a lid,  quite a good size as well. It felt I have been picking for ages. After that I just had enough strength to water my four greenhouses and the sweet potato plants, pick a few rhubarb sticks for the tasty crumble and then staggered home. I knew the harvest was good, the bags were heavy but I didn’t expect 7,6 kilo!

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It was a very easy decision – more jam to make and tomorrow I will make a tray bake. It is a sponge base with strawberries evenly placed on tom. It is delicious and any fruit can be used, it was nice with pieces of rhubarb too.

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Another 12 jars of lovely jam. From the farm into the jars in a few hours, not bad.

3. JUNE

I started picking strawberries a few days ago. It started with a few every other day, then a small punnet and today was just amazing. I could see that I’ll have a very good harvest so I didn’t pick any during the last few days. It was worth the wait.

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This lot was just over four kilos. I took two boxes with me in the morning, they filled up quickly so I had to hunt around in the shed for more. I keep no end of things there and found a couple more boxes so I was able to pick all the red strawberries.

The plan was to make one batch of jam and I’m happy to say that we have got 15 jars of beautiful strawberry jam.

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It couldn’t be any more fresh – from the field into the jar within a few hours.

5. MAY

Everything on the allotment is doing well and as the weather is nice ( the forecast is good for the next number of days) I decided to plant out my sunflower plants. These are the Johnson competition sunflowers, they were in flowerpots on the veranda so they were ready to go out. I gained a strip of ground between two of my greenhouses, they will be sheltered there and it should be a bit warmer too.

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I also dug some rich compost in before planting three sunflowers, supported with a cane.

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I had more plants, they were not so big and I just placed them randomly here and there, it’ll brighten the plot, all 12 of them.

The strawberries are flowering very well, I even saw some fruit on the plants and I’m sure the birds have spotted it as well. That meant my next job was to cover all the raised beds. I have got the nets for the job, the biggest problem is to remember which net goes where. The beds are not all the same size but I think I have managed.

I will have a little break now as the next vegetables will be all kinds of climbing beans and courgettes and squashes. These are now in seed trays and are already sprouting. There is also sweetcorn – first of all I thought I’d wait for the weather to warm up even more and sow them in the ground directly but there was the possibility of mice eating the seed. Better be safe, there was room in the big greenhouse in the back garden.

27. JANUARY

And the work goes on. It was another nice day today and I had a lot to do. Unfortunately our dustmen are on strike and today was the last occasion where they emptied the household bins. Recycling stopped a while ago and I’m not sure when it will start again. The garden recycling is no problem as yet, nothing needs doing in the garden and anything else that I would prune I’d burn. Not really environment friendly but I have started burning cardboard boxes etc in my ancient chimenea. It has got a crack all the way down but as it is in a metal three legged stand, that holds it together.

After I finished burning the last batch of boxes I went to the allotment, it was too nice not to go. I took all the ashes from the chimenea down there and put it on my compost. Then it was the turn of strawberry beds. I didn’t do very much with them in the last few years so I had a good clear out. A couple of the beds I re-did completely and the others I just thinned out. There is just one left so that’ll be for another day.

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I have decided to grow climbing beans beside my latest greenhouse so I spread a couple of large sacks of the lovely rich soil from the cannabis factory (September 2021). It will provide a nice shelter for them.

26. JANUARY

What a difference a few days make. Today was a beautiful spring-like day, blue sky and quite warm. The robin on the allotment was singing his little heart out and I was more than ready to continue.

Some years ago I was given a skeleton of a greenhouse – basically the person didn’t have all the glass for it and as it is quite an awkward shape it would have been rather expensive to get new glass for it.

I had just the spot for it and it worked quite well as a net cage. I grew different crops there, the latest were strawberries. As I have enough beds already I decided to take all the plants out, dig it all over and get it ready to grow cabbages. I never grew any brassicas in there so I’ve got a good chance to be successful.

I saved a large number of the strawberry plants and replanted them in one of my raised beds. The plants were given to me by my Hungarian friend who had a plot next to me some years ago. Before she went back home she gave me the plants so now I have something to remember her by.

18. JANUARY

There are going to be some changes on the farm this year.

As a very first structure I built was a polytunnel – nothing special, a metal frame and a green plastic cover. It was quite big, it was as long as the width of one plot. It was fine for the first few years but then things started going wrong. First of all the zip on the door broke and very soon small holes were appearing in the plastic. I didn’t give up because the frame was sound so I just pulled the plastic cover off and instead of that covered it with green netting. It has been working very well all this time, I have been growing vegetables there every year, rotating the crops regularly.

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A new idea came to me this year – to enlarge my soft fruit area. The fruit cage is full but I have decided to use this tunnel to put my blackcurrants there. To make it accessible for the bees and other pollinators I’ve taken the fine mesh off that was the door and will install a new door made out of pea netting.

All I had to do today was to dig it over, spread a few sacks of compost over and next time I can move the bushes. 

There will be a couple of new ones there, two chuckleberry bushes,and the blackcurrants. The two new bushes will be delivered on Thursday together with a new apple tree.

After I’ve done this I’ll just have one more net cage to sort out and all these structures will be ready.

The next task are strawberry beds. I have started already, all I need to do is to move some plants from another net cage (an old greenhouse covered with fine netting) complete one new bed and then just thin out and weed the others.

The net covered greenhouse will be used to grow broccoli as I never grew broccoli there yet.

MAINTENANCE

Even bad weather is useful for an gardener. It is still very cold for this time of year but I had to go to the allotment to check on the seedlings I moved to the greenhouses there. All is fine, even the cucumber seedlings are doing well, they germinated only the other day.

I try to do one improvement each day I am there, today was the turn of the large compost heap at the end of one of my plots. Usually I put compostable things into the composter bins, this heap is for the end of season waste – after harvesting potatoes, tomatoes, cabbages etc. It was sitting there the whole winter under a cosy cover – a carpet offcut.

I wanted to mend the retaining framework so the carpet was taken down, the Brussel sprout stalks thrown out and the rest dug over and heaped better. I was amazed how crumbly and brown it looked.

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All I had to do now to water it thoroughly and cover again with the carpet. It will sit there until the autumn, I will then rake out all the good soil, either bag it or use it on the plot and start the whole process all over again. My plan is to improve the soil in the strawberry raised beds – that will be quite a lot of work but worth it. I will select the strongest runners and gradually replace the plants in the newly filled beds.

HARVEST

It is all go on the allotment. This year the raspberries are amazing, I manage to pick a large box every other day. Not sure what I did but whatever it was it worked.

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The same goes for the red and white currants, beautiful. Here I know the reason, I did pamper all the fruit bushes in the fruit cage.

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I also had my first harvest of courgettes and french beans. Both are great, it is amazing how different the taste is when the fruit and vegetables are freshly picked.

 

 

But the biggest surprise are the aubergines. I always thought that they would be difficult to grow – not so. I had one plant last year and it produced some tasty fruit. This year I’m amazed how many I have. It seems that every seed I put in the soil germinated, I have aubergines in the greenhouse in the back garden and in both greenhouses.

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This is the biggest one so far. I have found a few good recipes and am looking forward to using them.

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Not bad for one aubergine. I’ll have to decide which recipe to use….