19. NOVEMBER

As I was walking to the allotment in the morning I thought – I hope this weather continues for a while yet. If I didn’t look at the fallen yellow leaves on the ground I  might have thought that it was springtime. It felt quite warm, the breeze was light and it was just perfect for gardening. Today I cleared the last greenhouse out, pulled out all the peppers and chillies but left one plant there – another physalis. I’ve got no idea how this one managed  to grow among all the peppers but on closer inspection I have found out that this is really a Cape gooseberry. I tasted one of the fruits, it was lovely and sweet. I’m sure I have got a packet of seeds of this plant so I’ll try it next year.

All this took quite a while so after this I just managed to dismantle the bean supports and go home. But the day was so nice I decided to continue in the afternoon.

Frank came with me and between the two of us we hammered in some sturdy pieces of wood to support the uprights in one of my old net cages. I have constructed this one myself and it is lasting quite well. But after the heavy rains the ground has softened and it became a bit loose. All is well now and I’m sure it will last a few more years.

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The rest of my afternoon I was weeding yet again – inside the rescued net cage and on another part of one of my plots. This has a line of blackberries and loganberries and a couple of pear trees, also a damson, a gooseberry and a number of herbs. I have flowers in between, they attract the bees and it cheers the place up.

I’m not quite sure what the forecast is for tomorrow but I hope it will at least keep dry. I have got one large fruit cage and a smaller net cage to clear out. I don’t need sunshine,  just a dry day.

30. OCTOBER

I had another helper on the allotment yesterday – my grandson Louis came in the afternoon. We took the kitchen scraps for the composter bins, harvested some parsnips and I tried my luck with the sweet potato. I’m quite pleased, from under two plants I got one sweet potato, reasonably sized. I think it’ll be fine as a jacket potato for myself and Frank, with some salad to give us a bit more for lunch.

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The forecast for today was quite good, at least for the morning, so I went to the farm to finish planting the garlic. I planted the first lot a few weeks ago and that is already sprouting, it didn’t take too long.

The latest garlic only came the other day and I ordered it purely because of its name.

I still had some time left so  I started some more weeding, this time in my little herb area. I have got a couple of pear trees, one apple and a damson bush there, also a gooseberry, a few chilean guavas and a bay tree. This will be just  those trees, the herbs – thyme, rosemary, lavender and in the spring a scattering of annual flowers.

After this I just had time to pull out a few of the dead sunflowers, cut some more chard and head home. To be continued tomorrow, or whenever the weather lets me.

19. JULY

I went to the allotment quite early yesterday morning, I knew we were going to have a very hot day. Picked a couple of courgettes, some lovely pale peppers, cucumbers and another huge bag of tomatoes.

This time I used my tomatoes to cook the pasta sauce – chopped them, sliced the courgettes and the peppers, put into a large saucepan where I first gently cooked some chopped onions and then slowly cooked it all. Only added a small amount of water. This sauce has got some of my basil leaves in, the flavour is lovely. I have six more jars ready for the winter.

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17. JULY

After a break of a few days I have decided to put down some more facts about the farm. As I mentioned before I have three plots and they contain my little shed and four greenhouses. There are also a few net cages of different sizes, all full of plants. We have to cover all our crops that pigeons might like to nibble. An easier way to do that is to grow these crops inside the net cages, much easier to harvest, weed and water. If there is a bit of space left in the cage I usually plant a few tomato plants there, they always survive and do very well. My main harvest of red tomatoes is from the greenhouses, that is no surprise but the outside ones ripen eventually.

As usual I’m growing courgettes this year but not on such great scale as before. I have found out the hard way that courgettes produce a lot of fruit – one plant can keep a family in fruit. This year I have grown yellow bush courgettes and yesterday was the first time I was able to pick some.

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I remembered that last year I made lots of courgette and tomato sauce to use with pasta. I decided to do that again, with some onions, garlic and basil. I didn’t use my tomatoes but used some tinned passata as I wanted to use it all up while it is in – date.

Because I had another good harvest of tomatoes I roasted them just with olive oil and a few sprigs of rosemary and bottled. 

The courgettes gave me four Kilner jars of the sauce and there was enough left to have it on our pasta for lunch.

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I’m lucky to have a space in the loft to store all my empty jars, be it Kilners or just jars for jam so for now I can continue. Another problem is storage space for the produce – cupboards are filling up. But I think that is not a problem, at least we shall have something wholesome to use during the winter.

9.MAY

My tomato plants in the three greenhouses on the allotment needed some attention today, putting canes beside them and tying them – all 41 of them. They look very healthy and some of them are almost ready to flower. There is a plan behind this large number of plants, I like to bottle them either as passata or just oven roasted ones, they are much better than any tinned tomatoes from a shop.

I still have some more tomato plants in the greenhouse in the back garden, nine of them in smaller pots, they will be planted later on the allotment in one of the net cages, and four plants in big pots. With those I’m just waiting for settled warm weather so I can stand them outside on the patio.

There was a change of activities on Saturday. I was given some vouchers by our son Tom for my birthday and it was just the right time to go to the Perfect ponds to get some more fish and plants for our pond. Two guys from this place came in December last year to sort our pond, the result is an amazingly clear water and happy five old fish. We got four more Koi and loads of food for them and some plants. These are now on a low ledge in the water and hopefully they’ll get bigger and will prevent the heron from fishing in the pond. We have also rigged up a system of CDs on strings, they flicker and again act as a scare. Time will tell but I’m hopeful.

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22. MARCH

Spring is here I think, today was a perfect day, another one for some work on the allotment. The parsnips are done so today was the turn of carrots. I thought I would do the same number of lines as I did parsnips, four. I think that would be just enough – if I wanted to grow enough vegetables and not have to buy any in the shop I would really need a farm. 

I still have a piece of land for planting my leeks there. Another job was weeding inside the fruit cage – again. As I finished that I sprinkled some borage seeds along the net, my hope is that our  bees will be attracted by the borage flowers and as they will be in there they’ll fertilise my fruit bushes.

The greenhouses are getting really warm so I decided to put some seeds inside my oldest one. This is the only one with the grow rings in, this way I will not disturb the soil as I will be planting my tomatoes or aubergines and can use the spaces between the rings to germinate some seeds. I decided on basil, that did very well there last year and also lettuce. The basil I will leave where it will grow and the lettuce I can transplant into other greenhouses.

OCTOBER 3RD

I thought that my tomatoes and cucumbers in the greenhouses on the allotment have finished. Not so. After a rainy day I finally managed to go down the ‘farm’ and see if we suffered any damage. I’m delighted to say that the only casualty was a multi-headed sunflower, only because the squirrel wanted to nibble the seeds and the whole thing just came crushing to the floor. No problem there, I have saved the biggest face and took it home before the squirrel found it. I harvested a good number of perfect cucumbers and there will be many more.

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For the first time I managed to grow basil in the greenhouse. Before now I was carefully sowing the seeds in small pots and then hoping to transplant them and it never worked. This time I simply scattered the seeds in the grow bed and a lot germinated. I harvested so much basil I was able to make a lot of pesto. I’m freezing portions of it ready to serve with some tasty pasta.

 

The squashes are ready to harvest too, these are my ‘mashed potato’ squashes. I never grew them before but I will again next year. The reason for the name is simple – you cut them in half, scoop out the seeds and roast them in the oven cut side up. When cooked, the flesh is scooped out and it is like a mashed potato, with only a fraction of the calories of spuds.

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JELLY

What would have been a waste has been turned to something delicious, a savoury jelly.

It would have been a shame to waste the thinned-out apples, we have two kinds of yummy jelly. Perfect with cold meat or cheese….

DIVIDING AND TRANSPLANTING

Some years ago I planted a small sage plant on the allotment – it was a rooted branch on my plant in the back garden. I think it liked it on the farm because when I dug it out it did exactly the same again but even more – I managed to split it into a number of smaller plants, all of them with a good root ball. They are now at the side of one of my net cages.

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It was still too wet for digging so the next job had to be moving one of my thornless blackberries and a loganberry to their new home.

WASTE NOT,WANT NOT

After I harvested my onions and garlic I dug the land and thought – wonder if I could plant something here. Considering it was the end of July – 29th to be exact – I was lucky. Simon had 2 trays of chitted Wija potatoes and didn’t have time or space to plant them. I thought I might have a go as I did something similar a number of years ago. That time I actually bought some potatoes advertised as suitable for planting late so they would be ready for Christmas. I planted 4 rows and they grew very well. unfortunately blight struck when the tops were really lush green and big. I cut the whole lot off and hoped for the best. I eased a few potatoes out the other day and my strategy worked!

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I treated them exactly the same way as I did the new potatoes in the early summer – just scrubbed them clean and steamed them. Served with sprinkling of salt, black pepper, butter and chopped chives. Quite delicious. I’ve got high hope to have them at Christmas.