Quite a few years ago I started making flower pots out of newspapers – using a jam jar as a mould they were just the right size for transplanting my seedlings. The advantage was that they rotted in the soil when I transferred the plants out into the open soil.
This is a step further. I have started growing my sunflowers for our annual Johnson sunflower competition. They started well, I put them into little pots and they did even better there. Now I needed to put them into something even bigger – but what?
I have been saving the brown paper than some mailing companies fill their boxes with – just because I hate throwing things away, it might come handy.
Today was the day. I used a tall vase as a mould because I needed something bigger than a jar and with straight sides. It is just perfect, I have used most of the paper and the plants look fine. I’ll keep them in the greenhouse for quite a while and when all danger of frost is gone they’ll go out. Last year I managed 11ft and 11inches, my hope is for that one inch more!
Finally it all came together. First of all I managed to harvest my very first spring rhubarb – I think it is the tastiest of all the pickings.
Last year in the autumn I have acquired another greenhouse, a very old one at that. It belonged to an elderly lady who lived in a house right next to our allotments. We were very friendly, she was used to come to see me quite often . She had a little gate in her fence as her husband was used to have a plot on our site quite a number of years ago. She died a few years ago and the people who bought her house didn’t want the greenhouse so I rescued it. The structure was sound but as we dismantled it quite a lot of the panes of glass broke – it was very old and brittle. Anyway, with help I moved it all to my plot and stored it very carefully. My friend Dave said he would help me to put it together. Soon after the New Year he surprised me by getting the structure up and in position. It formed a neat group of greenhouses. Next job was harder – sorting out the panes of glass. As so much of it broke I decided to do a bit of mix and match – I ordered eight polycarbonate sheets for the side panels and decided that the rest and the roof would be glass. Had to buy some more glass but it all started to take shape. I’m delighted to say that the only thing to do now is to fix new runner wheels on top of the door – on order – and all is done. Nevertheless I have constructed my raised beds inside, filled them with the contents of one composter bin and a number of sacks of Dalefoot compost. This way I can have one greenhouse for tomatoes, one for peppers and chillies and one for aubergines and the occasional cucumber will be placed where I will find space. I am very happy but all this was possible only with a huge lot of work by Dave. Thank you Dave. A friend in need is a friend indeed.
Despite the difficult situation of life with COVID 19 things are looking up on the allotment front. The days are getting longer and that is always something to cheer me up.
I have finished washing my greenhouses, the next thing was to refresh the soil and sort out the supports. After last year’s harvest of tomatoes, aubergines and chillies I took down all the cane supports – it needed re-doing.
I have also decided that ‘less is more’ and will limit each greenhouse to one type of vegetable and will space them further apart.
As I was looking at my Asian pear tree and planning how much to trim it – it has gone rather tall and the top branches are very thin and straggly, I noticed a nest in the fork of two larger branches. It looks a bit scruffy and untidy but it certainly is a nest. Perhaps a pigeon’s nest?
I had a number of cucumber plants in each of my greenhouses. All but one finished producing fruit but one plant in the greenhouse on the allotment suddenly started growing and flowering. I made sure I kept just one fruit and it grew surprisingly well. Today was the day to cut it, as I want to clear out the beds in that greenhouse, put fresh compost there and be ready for next year.
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.
My prefect therapy in these difficult times is digging on the allotment. It is one activity that I don’t really have to think about, just dig….I think of it as if it were meditation.
It is easy to plan the next year’s growing, think of things to do next, listen to the birds – all in all a tonic for the soul.Never mind the weather, as long as it is nor raining I can dig. Our site doesn’t get waterlogged, it drains very quickly. Even on a wet day I can work in one of my greenhouses. Talking of greenhouses, I’m very happy, I have acquired yet another one, a third one. The same size as the other two, also a rescued one. It actually belonged to an old lady whose garden was next door to our site. It wasn’t too difficult to move the dismantled structure over the fence. As it is such an old one I will need to get some new panes of glass but that is no hardship….Now I can plan what to grow in them. Easy – one will be just aubergines, the next one peppers and chilies and the third will be tomatoes.
I am very happy with my tomatoes. Most of them are in the greenhouses but some had to be planted outside because I had so many plants. Every seed germinated. As ever, I sowed more – just in case – there was no need this year, but how was I to know?
Anyway, I harvested the first lot the other day and started as I mean to go on – bottling them. Very simply, chopped the tomatoes, put in a small Kashmiri chilli (not very hot, just a hint) and some mixed herbs. Forty minutes in a water bath and all is ready to be used in the winter.
My courgettes always did well on the allotment but I am adding cucumbers to the list this year. I have a couple of plants in each greenhouse and they are producing very well. I like munching on a sliced cucumber but there are limits to what I can manage….
and I decided to find something else. After searching I discovered a recipe for ‘quick pickled cucumber‘ and just tried it. Just delicious!
The next huge harvest are courgettes, every year is the same. I thought I’d like to try something else and after another search found a recipe for fermenting vegetables. I mistakenly thought it to be very complicated. Not this recipe! I will have to be patient, follow the instructions very carefully and try it later. Watch this space.
I had just enough of the following vegetables: courgettes, dwarf beans, Borloto beans, kohl rabi, courgettes and a small green chili pepper.
It looks like a great harvest is coming – all of a sudden the tomatoes are turning red . These are in the greenhouses so far but I have a number of plants outside, both on the allotment and in the back garden and all are looking very healthy too.