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. APRIL

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.

19. APRIL

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.

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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.

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The water butt is perfect in the new position, it is even easier to draw the water.

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17. APRIL

I am quite surprised how well the leeks germinated. A bit too well. Last year seeds just didn’t want to know – I did have some leeks but not a lot and carrots and parsnips were so poor that I had to re-seed them twice. 

I have finished planting my leeks today having started yesterday. I had a piece of land ready for them, I just had to run a hoe through it and then rake it fine.

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Yesterday I planted 79 leeks and today I finished the job. We have a grand total of 111 leeks – I think we’ll manage to go through the winter with this.

I had room for one row beside the leeks so I planted my onions grown from seed. This is one of the few times that I was successful with them, in previous years nothing germinated. When it comes to seeds germinating this year they are all excellent so as a result I have got many more tomatoes, peppers and chillies because all the seeds came through. I’m sure I’ll manage to fill all my four greenhouses and also countless large pots…..

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.

14. FEBRUARY

The weather isn’t quite sure what to do, I think. Yesterday was just gloomy and wet, it managed to rain the whole day. All the same, I went to the allotment because I was planning to wash the inside of my greenhouses. As I have got four of them now, I had to make a start. The oldest of them was very much in need of some care. I took the rest of the bubble plastic our and washed the glass, as well as I could. This is a great activity to plan what to do next – no need to think during this task.

Last year one of the people living in a house a few doors away from our front gate was moving house and wanted to change his windows. He left the old double glazed units to be disposed of so I did the disposing. I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to use them for but I was sure they would come very handy. They did indeed.

After the greenhouse was clean I selected some of the units and placed them where I could fit them best, making the greenhouse a bit more draught proof.

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The rest of the smaller pieces I put in my latest plastic greenhouse, all around the inside – they will stop the soil falling too close to the walls and also will give extra warmth.

I have just one large double glazed unit left, I’ll measure it and perhaps I’ll be able to use it as a lid for one square strawberry bed, to warm it up. I would make a prop for it to keep to slightly open so it doesn’t get too hot. It would make a nice cold frame and perhaps we could have some early strawberries.

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.

2. FEBRUARY

Every year I grow a lot of climbing beans. Not just runner beans but a lot of different ones. They are all nice to eat fresh, just as we pick them – best are steamed (I always steam all my vegetables, that way nothing gets lost). But after the last two summers, where I constructed the usual double lines of bean poles joined at the top and they got knocked over in the sudden high mid-summer winds, I decided to change the set up. This time I erected only a single line of beanpoles and joined them by two levels of horizontals and also placed them beside my greenhouse and the net cage, that way they’ll be sheltered.

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27. JANUARY

And the work goes on. It was another nice day today and I had a lot to do. Unfortunately our dustmen are on strike and today was the last occasion where they emptied the household bins. Recycling stopped a while ago and I’m not sure when it will start again. The garden recycling is no problem as yet, nothing needs doing in the garden and anything else that I would prune I’d burn. Not really environment friendly but I have started burning cardboard boxes etc in my ancient chimenea. It has got a crack all the way down but as it is in a metal three legged stand, that holds it together.

After I finished burning the last batch of boxes I went to the allotment, it was too nice not to go. I took all the ashes from the chimenea down there and put it on my compost. Then it was the turn of strawberry beds. I didn’t do very much with them in the last few years so I had a good clear out. A couple of the beds I re-did completely and the others I just thinned out. There is just one left so that’ll be for another day.

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I have decided to grow climbing beans beside my latest greenhouse so I spread a couple of large sacks of the lovely rich soil from the cannabis factory (September 2021). It will provide a nice shelter for them.

4.JANUARY

Yesterday was a day of rest and a visit to a lovely National Trust place with our friends Lisa and John and children. Packwood House is lovely at any time of the year and yesterday was very enjoyable.

Well rested I started in the morning by taking  my kitchen waste to the allotment, to feed the worms in the composter bins. As I have five of them, it takes some filling but Lisa gives me her kitchen scraps so  my worms are well looked after.

The next task was a big improvement in my oldest greenhouse. When I was there last time I managed to dismantle the top of bench and the plan was to find my set of little spanners so I could detach the frame from the greenhouse structure. I was sure they would be in the shed – they were there and the bench didn’t take any time to undo. I’m delighted with the result, I have gained whole side of the greenhouse to grow tall plants, like tomatoes or peppers.