20. JUNE

Today was going to be a harvesting day and I’m very pleased with the result. I have a little routine when I get to my allotment. First I open my four greenhouses to get some fresh air in, perhaps water the plants if it looks like a hot day ahead and then start the real tasks I had in mind. This was exactly what happened in the morning. As soon as the greenhouses were done I started harvesting the currants, red and white ones. Both bushes are in the fruit cage, safe from thieving birds so I don’t have to hurry picking the fruit. I picked two large boxes of the red currants and one of the white ones. I already had a big bowl of gooseberries at home, they were from yesterday. I always try to thin the fruit on the bushes so in the end I get some nice large gooseberries. This took most of the morning and I was quite glad to lock up and go home.

Picking the fruit was one task, the next one was removing the stalks and weighing it ready for jam  making. In the end I have a lovely lot of red currant and gooseberry jam, the white currants are so delicately flavoured I don’t make anything out of them just freeze them loose, put in a freezer bag to be enjoyed in the winter.

12. FEBRUARY

Every now and then I feel that my efforts to keep the site reasonably weed free are like painting the Forth bridge (but even that doesn’t need painting over and over again, they have got some special paint that lasts longer). It was the turn of my largest soft fruit cage – I have lost count how many time I did that and the weeds keep coming back.

I didn’t stay much longer after that and after lunch at home it was time for some greenhouse work. I have some garlic growing in there in one of my grow beds already and now I have added some shallots and onion setts in small cell trays. It works with the garlic – I’m hedging my bets as I have some garlic growing on the allotment already.

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I haven’t tried it with the onions or shallots yet, it will be interesting.

SOFT FRUIT

About two years after starting on the allotment I treated myself to a fruit cage. It wasn’t cheap but it is well worth every pound. I have rearranged the bushes there during late autumn and winter and it is much better now, enough space around each bush.

I have got a number of blueberries, gooseberries, black currant, and my favourite, red and white currants. Today I picked some of them, the white ones are delicious on our porridge in the morning.

FRUIT CAGE

I have organised the fruit cage in the autumn and at the same time pulled all the weeds out. Or so I thought.

I decided to get the cage ready today because I’d like to put the top net back on by the end of this month. I had a nasty shock – there were weeds everywhere. I’m sure the weeds grow just to keep me busy! But I’m happy now – it took just one morning on a grey day and it looks pristine. I wonder how long it will stay like this.

All the bushes look well, even the cuttings I took and the two I was given so I have high hopes for a decent harvest.

WINTER

I don’t much care for snow and all that – getting on a bit, but I was never very sporty, even as a young girl. I was glad I took the top net off from the fruit cage. I went to the allotment on Monday, it was a lovely crisp day, blue skies and a fair layer of snow. I have got a number of net cages there as well, I wanted to make sure I knock the snow off those.

I did that but as I was coming out of the last net cage I managed to trip and fall –  face first into a strawberry bed with a deep snow cover. Just as well I don’t have a photo – the glasses did most of the damage, they were quite out of shape but not broken. My nose was fine – I tweaked it to check for any fractures and all was well.

It didn’t really bleed but the bruises started to form and now I look like a panda. Just as well we are under lockdown, by the time we’ll be able to go out I’ll look reasonable again.

This is the view from my back door – it did look lovely, like a thick layer of icing sugar everywhere. It didn’t last long though.

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GREENHOUSE

Today’s weather forecast wasn’t very good but I was hoping against hope that I might manage a spell on the allotment. I went there soon after 9am and did quite a bit of work in the fruit cage. Yesterday I went to a garden centre and used a couple of the vouchers that I won in the Johnson sunflower competition – bought a white currant. I have got one bush but the flavour is so great I always wanted another one. And it was in a sale, all the better.

As I planted it yesterday I realised I had to weed the whole area – amazing how well the weeds grow! That was the job for today.

I managed to clear more than a half of the cage and then rain stopped play. The advantage of having a greenhouse (or two…) on the plot is I can stay there and continue working in the dry. Just the right time to clear the greenhouses, pull out the plants and refresh the soil. I did all that, put in there one huge 50l sack of composted farmyard manure….

…..and all is ready for next year. Now I just need a nice sunny day to finish the fruit cage and clear out the second greenhouse and I’ll be happy.

WEEDS

I’m sure I worked in my fruit cage a couple of weeks ago, pulling all the weeds out and it looked great. Not so today. It took the whole morning and three full buckets of weeds to bring it to some semblance of normality. No more jungle but I’m sure it won’t take long and I will have to start again.

As I had some empty spaces in the cage – last year’s clear out of old bushes, I planted a few tomato plants there. They are doing very well, seem to be sheltered by the larger bushes.

THERAPY

I said it in the past and I say it now – going to the allotment is better than any therapy for me. I can self isolate, even on my way there and back, it is only about five minutes from my house and when I’m there I am in my little paradise.

Yesterday and today were devoted to digging and getting the land ready for sowing. I did my winter digging everywhere on my plots during the autumn and winter but this was to incorporate the horse muck and refresh the land where I had to walk on it (getting the top net for the fruit cage all square etc)

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This piece of land was quite compacted but all is well now, ready for planting my potatoes.

Today’s effort was slightly bigger, it also helped that we had a shower of rain last night. This will be for carrots

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and the final piece is ready for leeks. My leeks did very well last year, it was the Mammoth variety and they were very tasty.

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MORE WORK

The weather was very kind to me today, you could be forgiven to think the spring is here. Yesterday was storm Eric, I had an enforced day in and did some housework, curtain washing etc so I was more than ready for some grubbing in the soil today.

My friend gave me a standard gooseberry, a red one but I wasn’t able to plant it till now – first the ground was frozen solid then it poured down.

I made up for lost time today though. Morning was planting time, the gooseberry is in the fruit cage and the afternoon session was dedicated to weeding the cage, the surround and clearing a neglected path right at the end of one plot, behind a net cage. As we are going to have the rest of our hedge cut next week we shall gain a lot of wood chip and I shall put it on that path. It had grass but it was also full of weeds like creeping buttercup so I have cleared it and will put the wood chip there. It’ll be so much easier.

MUSHROOMS

It is the time of year again when I think where to put what type of fertiliser or compost. I decided to get some more mushroom compost from my favourite place – Livesey Brothers. It was an enjoyable visit; it is not too far, an easy drive and not only did I get 6 large sacks of mushroom compost but also some tasty mushroom. I can already taste the risotto I’ll make in the next few days…..

The compost is earmarked for the net cages where I will grow brassicas next year and also for my fruit cage, I shall fees all my soft fruit bushes – but not blueberries, that’s the wrong stuff for them.