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.
The weather forecasters have got it slightly wrong for our area, the map showed the belt of showers further up north. It started drizzling here after breakfast and continued till the early afternoon. Around three in the afternoon it stopped so I put on my waterproof jacket and went to the allotment. I didn’t want to do a lot, just to see how things were there and perhaps pick some raspberries and currants. I managed to do all that and got home dry. I wanted to try another recipe using fruit from my farm and thanks to my friend in Allotment Haven I have got just the thing. My blackcurrants aren’t ready as yet so I used red and white currants. The resulting cake smells delicious and looks great. Frank will be the judge of it tomorrow.
Yesterday was another busy day on the farm and in the end I was just too tired to write it all up. I did a lot of weeding in the orchard – again! and picked over two kilo of raspberries so of course I just had to make more jam. It would be a shame not to, this jam is so tasty. The tomatoes in the greenhouse are doing very well, I have removed the bottom leaves so there is a flow of air around them and they are in full sun.
Everything is growing well, the lettuce in one of the greenhouses is amazing, really big and very tasty.
I have used it to make a big green salad – I throw everything and anything in – chopped hard boiled eggs, Feta cheese, olives, capers and then just stir in my dressing made with olive oil, wholegrain mustard, balsamic vinegar and a little drizzle of honey.
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.
Things are working out just fine with my sowing seeds and transplanting into greenhouses on the allotment. It is quite a task filling four greenhouses, deciding what to put where but three of them are done to perfection. Just the latest one remains, that will be done tomorrow I hope. I still have about 24 tomato plants to find a home for but I’m sure it’ll get sorted out.
Today was the second phase, washing little flowerpots and sowing other vegetables – courgettes and sweetcorn. If all the seeds germinate we shall have enough to feed us and the neighbourhood.
One reason why the seeds are germinating so well is the compost I am using – Dalefoot. It is a peat free compost from the Lake district. Far the best I’ve ever used, I pay a bit more but it is well worth it.
The leeks are done so today I finished a job that I started on Sunday morning. My tomatoes are amazing this year, every seed I put in the pots must have germinated, I have got dozens of plants. Very carefully labelled varieties including Yellow pear. That one is prolific and produces lots of small sweet tomatoes, very late into the autumn.
I have managed to fill two of my greenhouses on the allotment – I need four more plants to finish altogether. I have even put some tomatoes in the big pots I have rescued from the canabis farm and still I had a lot left. I mentioned it to my neighbour’s daughter and she took 12 of them. Now it looks quite normal, I’ll put the rest in some more big pots and perhaps inside one of my net cages when the weather warms up.
Both greenhouses were thoroughly watered and I moved on to the next task. When my third greenhouse was erected it left a narrow strip of land between the old and the new one. I put a water butt at each end, collecting rainwater from the gutters. Unfortunately it closed the access to the piece of land so weeds grew quite well there. I was always going to sort it out, never had enough time until today. Of course I had to empty one of the butts so I chose the one with the tap as it stood on a structure made of bricks and would be easier to move. It wasn’t very full, I used the water on the sprouting peas in the net cage and the raspberries, then heaved it on the path and started clearing the weeds.
I’m pleased with the result, I’ll have just enough space to plant my competition sunflowers there, they will be sheltered from both sides.
The water butt is perfect in the new position, it is even easier to draw the water.