NEW STRAWBERRIES

My friend Eva will leave our allotments next year, she will be returning with her husband to her home in Hungary. I know she’s looking forward to it but I shall miss her. She very kindly offered me her strawberry plants.

Today was the day for the move. The bed was ready, I heaped loads of very rich compost on it some time ago and yesterday just hoed it and got it ready for planting.

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After that it was just a question of moving the plants from Eva’s plot and planting them in the new bed.

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They will have the whole winter to settle in and in the spring and summer – watch this space!

Thank you very much Eva.

JAM

Another summer, another load of jam – my strawberries have started and after eating the first picking I decided to make some jam. All the last year’s jam is gone; I had everything ready and thanks to¬† Certo the result is as good as ever. There will be more later, my strawberries are a mix of very early ones and some later varieties.001

I decided to cover the strawberry beds with nets because we seem to have a lot of magpies there and they like to pick the fruit – they don’t always eat what they pick, they just drop it on the ground. I think that has helped but it is rather tiring to keep lifting the net and then fixing it over the bed again. Later in the autumn I’m thinking of putting some of the strawberry plants in one of my net cages, the one in a very sunny spot, that’ll make it easier to look after them and keep the birds out too, even the squirrels. I’ve got enough of the net cages to do this (even if I should think that I might need to build another one, after all the effort of constructing all my cages it should be a piece of cake!)

NEW HARVEST

Despite the poor spring everything grew and prospered and today was the first day I harvested some broad beans and strawberries.

The beans have been sheltering in one of the raised beds and I’m sure that is the reason they did so well. This is only a fraction of what I’m going to get in the end.

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I had to start my strawberries again as the beds I had were over four years old and I could see that the harvests were getting smaller towards the end. I’m sure it was worth it. again, despite the weather the strawberries are sweet and juicy and it looks a bumper harvest. More jam, anybody?004

OFF WE GO AGAIN…

Another end of February, another start of growing! I’m getting a bit better because in the past I started sowing seeds much too early, and too many of them at once. Never too late to learn.

First of all I had to sort out the greenhouse. It is an unheated one so plants hibernate there quite nicely. My kafir lime liked it and looks rather well. I had a good harvest of yacon tubers, also of the growing little tubers, they were put into pts and kept almost dry in the greenhouse. By the looks of it they survived well. I moved them out into the veranda so that they can get used to colder weather.

Now I know they do well on the allotment, they’ll go there again this year and I hope for another good harvest.

After this it was down to the real job in the greenhouse, sowinh some seeds.

I did a tray with some Red iceberg lettuce, Lakeland lettuce and some chinese leaves. The next tray is a selection of different tomatoes. I’m growing outdoor varieties because they’ll go in some of my net cages. I found that it seems to protect them from blight and as the net is very fine it feels a bit warmer inside too.

Last but not least I sorted out my strawberries. I’m hoping that they will flower earlier and we shall have some tasty early fruit. If not, nothing is lost, I shall plant them on the allotment and grow something else in the box.

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BOTTLED SUMMER

I always wanted to have a house with a walk-in larder or a pantry, I don’t have either and I can see the reason in having one of these. I’m running out of space to store my produce.

This is the result of my efforts from last night and today – bottled red and white currants, raspberries and strawberry and raspberry jam. I’m sure my Grandma would be very happy with my efforts, she always bottled and preserved everything Grandad grew on his plot. I’m sure I’ve inherited their genes!

In the winter we can all have a taste of summer on our plate!

The strawberry harvest was 26 kg up to and including yesterday. The first 3 beds are almost empty, I shall take the nets off to give the birds a bit of treat but I have one more bed close to the shed and that one is just starting to produce fruit.

More strawberries, here we come!

You can’t have too much of a good thing.

SERIOUS HARVEST

I went away for a few days to the Lakes – last friday to be precise. My friend has kindly offered to water the polytunnel on the allotment – nothing else is really vulnerable, everything is in the open and can look after itself.

Had a great time there, did some gardening – different kind, flowers this time. I do have flowers in my back garden but this was more organised, herbaceous borders etc. Fortunately the weather was kind and I got a lot done.

Came home on Tuesday 30th June soon after 1pm and after a short rest went to the allotment.

Amazing amount of fruit – 3 kg of strawberries, a full box of raspberries, red currants and white currants.

I also picked a big bunch of very fragrant sweet peas. They are great this year after I planted them inside my fruit cage, the birds can’t peck them and the stems are nice and straight.

STRAWBERRIES AND JAM

I was quite surprised today that I managed to pick 1.5kg of strawberries! Considering the weather we’ve been having, it is a miracle. I checked my last year notes and I’m 2 weeks late with the harvest.

It was well worth the effort with the bale of straw, I think the pigeons were getting some ideas that there would be a feast – obviously the old CDs on strings all over the beds of strawberries didn’t frighten them at all, so nets came out, same as last year.

Talk about a carbon footprint or food miles – minimal in my case!

They are so tasty, full of flavour. we had some tonight with my home-made yoghurt and I made 8 jars of jam. I found that the best jam is made using Certo, every bottle has a recipe on the label and the jam is made within a short time – none of the boiling the fruit to death! This way the colour is great, good set and the taste is second to none.

This is the first batch of many – just as well I have got a loft full of jam jars!

Onwards and upwards.

STRAWBERRIES

I was rather surprised when I found these few strawberries today. After the dismal May I never expected any yet.

As it happened I drove to a farm where I often get my chicken manure pellets and fresh eggs, this time I got a bale of straw as well. Just as well I got a bale – after working very hard the whole afternoon I managed to do 3 of my 4 strawberry beds and I’ve got just a little bit of the straw left.

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As I was working I noticed that a large number of strawberries were turning pink. I’ve constructed a network of string with some old CDs attached but to make even more sure that none of the greedy birds get any idea I made some other things. A plastic shopping bag tied to a stick and then cut into ribbons so it flutters in the wind. A bit of an overkill but better to be safe then sorry.

STRAWBERRIES AND OTHER FRUIT

I was very surprised to see some flowers on my strawberries. I had other plans when I got to my allotment but changed them and made some anti thieving bird preventions! I hope this will work, otherwise it’ll be back to draping some netting over them.

I also had a look in the fruit cage and again was very pleased that I have it – the red currants are starting to flower and you can see some tiny fruit on one of the gooseberry. Blueberries and fourberries are just a bit slow but they’re getting there too.

The first year I did exactly what the leaflet suggested and took the top net off, in case of a heavy snow fall. That winter we didn’t have ANY snow! The job of putting the top net back on wasn’t nice at all. I decided last November that I’ll leave it on and just watch the weather in case of some freak snow deluge. Again nothing! And then some people say we don’t experience climate change. Hmm…

FRUIT

The soft fruit on the allotment is well organised and ready for the spring.

Raspberries have been planted on a separate plot, in double rows and the paths between the rows lined with a membrane to (try) to stop the weeds from invading. It has been great, I had hardly any weeds there! The canes are contained in the rows by some wire and that is holding them back, all this makes picking them much easier.

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Rhubarb crowns are resting , if next year’s harvest is as good as this one was I’ll be happy. There are three young fruit trees beside the rhubarb – a plum, a pear and a cooking apple. All had some fruit this year so I’m hoping for much more next year.

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A large part of one plot is taken by a fruit cage, this is a must on our site as we have a large number of pigeons and they would strip the fruit off before we know it is there. I found out the hard way during my first year there – I had a red currant bush in the middle of one plot, an obviously mature one and very soon I started noticing some currants, they were just turning pink. Next day – nothing! That drove me to getting the fruit cage and moving all fruit bushes there – red, white and black currants, gooseberries, fourberries and blueberries. It was worth the effort, the harvest was great this year. All the fruit is either frozen, eaten fresh or made into jams.

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Last but not least are the strawberries. It is quite amazing how much can be harvested from jus three beds. When I first started gardening on my plot I was given enough plants to make one bed – the original plants multiplied and this summer I had 30 kg of sweet juicy strawberries. Delicious!

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