Today was the first day where the temperature was above zero. I had the opportunity to clean the fountain in the pond and finish organising the greenhouse. Earlier today I went to B&Q and bought a couple of large trays and that finished my new set up. All is ready to start seed sowing, can’t wait. I think I’ve got enough to fill my allotment many times over but I’ll be trying some new varieties.
I always wash all my pots as I finish with them so it was very easy to get it all ready. During the clean up operation I also sorted out my little plastic greenhouse behind my large one, this one is just used to store pots and bags of compost, it is rather dark to grow anything there.
I hope the mild weather will stay, it’ll make the wait for planting times a bit more bearable.
I have been very busy in the last few days but haven’t got very much to show for it. My new greenhouse on the allotment is almost finished, my friend Wayne is just waiting to get some more glass and then I can wash the glass and install my grow boxes. That’s what has been my main activity in the last few days. I have decided to move the grow boxes from the greenhouse in the garden to the new one on the allotment. After all, I have got two perfect benches there. I had to empty them first – I forgot how much soil each box contained. I moved all four of them and altogether I had 14 sacks of soil. A few trips with the wheelbarrow and the job was done.
Then came the task of washing the garden greenhouse. I didn’t do it quite well in the last few years, the boxes were in the way. But all is done now, looking as good as new.
Also during the last week I have found yet another seed company and as far as I can judge they are exactly what I wanted. The Real seed company even had the large white beans I have been looking for. I grew them years ago, always saving some to grow next year but one year I forgot to save some and couldn’t find them anywhere. This time I’ll be much more careful. Also some different tomatoes, I’m going to grow quite a few as I have the extra greenhouse space.
They are very tasty and produce a lot of large white beans.
I have high hopes for the cucumbers too and the other runner beans. Of course I will try to save my own seeds from all these.
My New year started well. The weather is reasonably kind to me and I have been going to the allotment as often as I can. I knew I had a few jobs that needed doing – finishing the weeding in the fruit cage and tackling the raspberry patch. This is another job that keeps coming up, never mind how often I do it during the year. To start with I had to cut down all the old canes that bore fruit. This is quite easy, it is clear which ones these are. That done it showed even more all the weeds. I was hoping to do the weeding during one session but that was too hopeful. I finished the job today and I’ll wait and see how quickly the weeds will start growing. I’m not cutting corners, all weeds are pulled up. roots and all.
I also planted the first part of my elephant garlic in the ground, it was growing in a grow box in my garden. I needed to empty the box because I have a plan how to use it better.
There will be more to come.
My friend who is a tree surgeon and does garden clearances asked me if I wanted a greenhouse. Of course I said yes. He said that he and his men will put it up on my plot. I’ve never seen a greenhouse assembled this fast. He told me that they very carefully dismantled it, saved all the clips, springs and glass so they just reversed the process. They will need to replace a few panes of glass, it gets rather brittle with age. It is not just an ordinary greenhouse, there are two bolted together.
I even have two benches inside. This is where the grow boxes come in, I will have them in the back greenhouse and in the front one I’ll put large flowerpots. I still have a number of them from the cannabis farm some years ago. Also the position of the greenhouse is such that I’ll be able to stand a line of the large pots outside, it is a perfect sun trap and tomatoes will thrive there.
Waste not want not.
The work continues. Yesterday I managed to uproot most of the tall sunflowers and left them for the next day. That day was today. Yet another very mild day, ideal for some hoeing – I don’t dig as a rule and it seems to work. I wanted to clear the whole patch where I had the elephant garlic and sweetcorn. Half of it was done so I wanted to finish it. The soil is so beautifully crumbly, full of worms and I even found about six more elephant garlic plants. These I planted into a small bed, ready with some so these have just filled it.
I have got quite a lot of elephant garlic plants growing in a large grow bed in the greenhouse at home and I will plant them out in the spring.
The main part of the work today was quite easy in the end so I’m getting the plot sorted out slowly but surely.
As I could actually get to the composter bin I wanted to empty it today and use the soil in two places. One had to be the latest little greenhouse I got because the borders were not deep enough. I have changed the wood on the edges and made them much higher so I could put much more soil there. It is only a small area but I have used four large soft buckets. It looks much better and I’m sure the peppers that I plan to grow there next year will do well.
There was an amazing amount of perfect soil in the bin, it took quite an effort to get it all out. Everything was perfect.
I even had two large sacks left after filling the greenhouse beds so they went in the raised bed. Now I have everything ready for planting the garlic. I have even ordered some more, we like garlic, I use it a lot in my cooking and home grown is certainly the best.
It has been so amazingly dry these last few weeks that I’m quite surprised anything is growing on the allotment. Fortunately I have my greenhouses and that keeps the tomatoes and peppers happy. I haven’t had so many tomatoes and peppers in all the years I’ve been working there.Thinking of the current situation it is quite lucky that I’ve had such a super harvest, I was able to bottle a lot of the produce – oven roasted mixed vegetables or just tomatoes, cooked blackberry and apples for future crumbles and the list goes on. I’m especially pleased with the oven roasted mixed vegetables, I just add a glug of olive oil, no water so the flavours are really concentrated.
The cucumber in the greenhouses did very well. I have planted two plants and they have climbed up and along a wire the entire length of the greenhouse, producing a lot of fruit. I had so much that I was able to make cucumber relish for the very first time and it was very tasty.
My friend Mary and her son Wayne have got a few beehives on their plot and today was the day to harvest their honey. I’ve never seen it done and was amazed how very laborious it is.
I’m sure it is thanks to the bees that our fruit harvest is so good. It is not only the fruit that benefited from the bees, my sunflowers did very well too. My tallest one was 915cm and today I brought home two of the biggest heads to save them for Chris for next year’s competition.
Both are 25cm in diameter so we should have enough seeds for everybody.
It was back to a hot day today but I wasn’t planning to do anything too strenuous on the allotment. Nowadays I go every other day to water all the tomatoes and peppers in the greenhouses and harvest whatever I can. It was no different today.
As there are so many blackberries that are ripening so fast I pick them every time I go there. Last time I made some jam and today I thought I would try something else. We like blackberry and apple crumble, I had a fair number of apples under my trees so I picked them. When I got home I sat and very painstakingly cut them up, and chopped them into small pieces, mixed with the very ripe blackberries and over a low heat cooked them. The result is delicious, I didn’t use any sugar but I would add some later if needed. I filled four Kilner jars, one pie dish ready for crumble tomorrow and I still have a bowl of them left to have just with a drizzle of cream.
Of course there were more tomatoes ready to pick and this time I made a huge pot of tomato soup, just added some basil leaves, no water at all needed, the tomatoes are beautifully juicy. This made four Kilner jars as well and a bowl left, enough for supper for the two of us one evening, served with a garlic baguette or some such.
Both lots were put through a water bath, around 15 minutes and I have a ready supply for the winter. Nothing artificial added, just pure fruit or vegetables.
At last the temperature is a bit easier to work on the allotment, however my activities are rather curtailed. I have great plans on the way there – I’ll do the weeding here, collect the cut branches there etc. It is the same every time I go there and it always finishes in the same way – only a fraction of jobs get done. Take today. I was hoping to get on with watering all the plants in the four greenhouses but when I got to the farm I noticed that the blackberries had turned black overnight. I wanted to make some jam so I decided to pick them first and then do the other jobs. This didn’t take too long and I had two full boxes quite quickly.
As I started watering the greenhouses I realised the tomatoes needed picking as well, even though I had a large bag of them a couple of days ago. Another little delay but well worth it, I could make more pasta sauce because I also picked a handful of sweet chillies in yet another greenhouse.
After that I finally got going with the watering and after that came a few more jobs – cutting off some of the tomato foliage and tying the plants to their sticks, weeding inside the greenhouses and here I thought – how come the weeds always grow so well, even if the plants I want growing are struggling. There must be some kind of logic here but I can’t see it.
I was slowly getting round to all the jobs I wanted to do, even managed to harvest some runner beans and other climbing beans. I wanted to make more pasta sauce, this time a mix of tomatoes, peppers and the beans. It all together made a huge potful and I have kept one portion for us for tomorrow’s lunch, the rest is already bottled in my Kilner jars. All will be very nice in the middle of the winter.
As the last thing in the evening I made the jam. I had more than enough so I got two Kilner jars of blackberries as well as all the jam. I’d better slow down a bit with the jam making, there isn’t much storage space left and I’m beginning to run out of empty jam jars.
There are very dark clouds overhead and I’m hoping we might get some rain at night. I think I will work in the back garden at home tomorrow, and I must catch up.
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.
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.
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.
Phew, what a scorcher!
Yesterday I went to the allotment quite early in the morning and just picked some more raspberries and fixed nets over the greenhouse doors. The idea is that the door itself will stay open and the net door will stop any creatures from getting in. It was very successful last year so I fixed it there again this year. I’m glad I did it, the temperature is around 30 degrees.
Today was another early start, this time I wanted to tidy my large net cage, harvest the peas and sort out the few tomato plants that I put in the middle there – they couldn’t be planted anywhere else, there was no room in the greenhouses. I’m happy with the tomatoes, I will have some fruit on them.
These are the climbing peas, they are climbing on the netting in the cage and are quite easy to remove after they finished, they don’t damage the net.
Tomorrow will be another hot day so another early start, this time harvesting my tomatoes. They are turning red, there is a good mixture of them some new ones for me like Speckled Roman….
The others are a mix of plum ones and the usual round ones. I’m sure putting the banana skins underneath has helped with the ripening.
There are some huge green ones in there, ready to ripen…
I had to put a lid under, they were so heavy they rested on the soil.