FEBRUARY

Well, another gardening year is upon us. Doesn’t the time fly?!

I was lucky that I managed to get most of my digging done when the weather was reasonable during November. Now I just have to go and fork it over and get rid of some persistent weeds – why don’t the slugs and snails like weeds??

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There is only one more piece of land to go over and I shall be ready for the planting and sowing.

That done I was able to concentrate on the greenhouse in my back garden. As the last thing at the end of autumn I sowed some lettuce seeds in one of the big grow bags. Of course the seedlings looked small and a bit pathetic but as soon as the days started getting longer they grew. I had a nice lot of iceberg lettuce seedlings and I managed to transplant them all. With a bit of luck and some more sunshine we shall have our own lettuce soon.

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THE FIRST OF MANY

I started the new year as I mean to continue – on the allotment. We managed to take one more load of slab pieces to the allotment and that was enough to make a path in the middle of my large cabbage net cage.

The afternoon was devoted to sowing some seeds in trays. Leeks, onions Ails Craig and white onions, the seeds I bought when I was in Malta. I saw them there in the shops and was very happy when I found the seeds.

I use seed trays that I bought a number of years ago from Harrod Horticultural company. It was money well spent, I’m still using them and with care they’ll last many more years.

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They have one big advantage – even if I would miss out a few days, the seedling will be fine as the whole thing sits on top of matting and takes up water via the felt matting suspended in the bottom tray with water. I just have to make sure the tray is regularly topped up.

TOPSOIL

I knew all the lovely topsoil I managed to get from my two ‘forgotten’ composter bins would come handy. It was a bit too wet today to continue with digging so I had to concentrate on maintenance.

First was one path, rather the grass on it, that had to be cut. As it was so high it had to be done with the shears. Ideal job for a chilly morning. There was so much grass it almost filled one composter bin.

Talking of bins – some weeks ago I emptied a couple of them and bagged the contents – beautiful topsoil to be used to top up the raised beds in my lovely greenhouse.

I was late in the season getting the greenhouse but it is all going to be ready for an early start next spring. I know it is wishing my life away but I can’t wait. All my tomato, cucumber and pepper seeds are sorted out and I’m ready……………

 

BIT BY BIT 2.

During this time of year there will be many more installments in this category. Today was the turn of my newest raspberry patch. It was on this existing plot (no.3 in my collection) when I took it over but in a poor state. I must have dug it over and over at least six times and I’m still battling with the weeds. But not just the weeds.

Raspberries are well-known for spreading their roots and mine are no exception. I have to remind myself to be ruthless and thin them out.

Alas, the weather is still so mild I might have to weed this patch again before long.

There are benefits too. I kept the tomato plants going in the greenhouse, they had some green tomatoes on and the result is

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this tasty tomato – Costoluto Fiorentino. There might be a few more. The greenhouse is not totally draft-proof but obviously keeps the plants warm enough.

STILL GOING STRONG

I went away for almost two weeks and thought that I would find a bit of wilderness on the farm. Not so, everything survived well. My very good friend Irene watered the plants in the greenhouse and thanks to that I had a lovely crop of delicious tomatoes.

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That was a nice surprise because I started growing in the greenhouse rather late. I think these might be Gardener’s delight – I found the plant growing on a path! Gave it a good home and this is my reward.

I had the usual stalwarts – carrots and parsnips, also a very nice cabbage. Long may it continue.

 

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As usual, whenever I go away, I looked to buy some different seeds. I was in luck this time. Found a new seed company and managed to get some seeds – white onion. Not the little pearl onions as I know but full-size ones. I tasted them whilst away and they are very nice, mild and sweet. We shall see how I get on.

RESULTS

The weather is helping – sudden spell of warm weather and everything is doing very well. Of course we have to protect things like cabbages against twin attack from pigeons and cabbage white but it is worth it!

The same goes for sweetcorn – protection not against pigeons but squirrels – they cause havoc on the allotment. I decided to try to grow sweetcorn inside my large cabbage cage and it has worked!

I started growing in my new greenhouse a bit late but my cucumber plant managed against the odds…

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…and next year will be great, I can see that now.

Last job yesterday. after harvesting 2 large sacks of potatoes was planting two new strawberry beds. I decided to do it this way, it’ll be easier to throw the net over to protect the crop against the birds.

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The main potatoes are harvested but the late ones, to be ready for Christmas (I hope), are doing very well. I had to earth them up and will be putting the fertiliser on very soon.

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ANOTHER PIECE OF LAND

This is only a little square of land, it makes sense to add it to my extending area of growing. It was next to my latest acquisition – the greenhouse – and it was rather neglected. It took three days and about 10 wheelbarrow loads of bindweed roots to shift but now all is perfect.

From this – the other part was ever so easy compared to this little strip of land

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to this

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I’ve got plans for this plot – fruit trees and bushes.

PLANS

After a long deliberation I decided that I would like to get a large polytunnel for the allotment. Found the website, the tunnel looked just perfect – 12ft wide and 20ft long. It would have covered nearly a half of one plot. The idea was I’d ask for it for my big birthday next year – or rather I wouldn’t want any Christmas or birthday presents, just a bit towards it. It was a bit pricey, I must admit. All that would have started next spring and I would have asked/begged a number of people to help to build it.

Obviously it wasn’t the right thing for meĀ  – I still had my doubts, mainly because of the price. All has been sorted out for me.

Reg had a nice little greenhouse on the half of a plot next to mine. Sadly he is no longer with us and his widow didn’t want to keep it – it was clearly meant to be mine. I bought it from her and after clearing it out and adding some manure to the soil we’re up and running.

I’ve got a few tomato plants, some sweet peppers and a cucumber – that should be climbing up along the wire I have arranged for it.

Outside I have two water butts, both have got a working tap and are elevated on support and have a pipe leading from the gutter to fill it.

There was a propagator inside as well so after clearing the ground on the side of the greenhouse I moved it there – a perfect fit.

I think I will line it with bubble wrap for the winter so we can have lettuce and tomatoes and cucumbers till later in the autumn.

 

 

 

 

 

ENGLISH WEATHER

I’m rather pleased with myself that I wasn’t in too much of a hurry to start my courgettes, squashes and beans in the greenhouse. Hailstones a few days ago, arctic wind now, the gardens and allotments don’t know what hit them!

Another good idea was to keep my kaffir lime in the greenhouse after the winter, it has got flowers and I live in hope that we might have some fruit. Even if I don’t get any fruit the leaves are very useful.

TLC

…and a lot of hard work was the order of the day on the allotment today.

There was a plot on our site that nobody worked on. I thought that somebody wanted it and was going to start working there. I was wrong. It happens from time to time that people think they would like to have an allotment but when it comes to actually working on the plot, the reality hits them – it is quite a lot of work. This particular plot wasn’t overgrown with weeds – I know because it was mine last year. When I harvested the potatoes I dug it all over so it was in good order.

All the same, this person didn’t return so rather than to leave it neglected, I took it back and it is all ready and just waiting for good weather.

I had to clear some big drums , some were full of sand – this belonged to the chap before me who was into growing exhibition parsnips. Anyway, all the drums are gone, the sand neatly heaped to one side and the new space ready.

Because there was quite a bit of sand mixed with the soil I took an advantage of it and made it into a parsnip patch. We’ll see.

Next on the list was finishing planting some garlic – I had some tiny cloves, put them into grow cells, they rooted so now was the time to put them out, join the overwintered ones.

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Onion sets and shallots received the same treatment. The shallots were well rooted in the cells so they’ll have a head start. Then I planted some red onion sets but even though I thought I had enough I shall have to get some more. Work will continue…

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Last but not least was some work in my greenhouse when I got back home. I wanted to have some very early potatoes, decided on the variety. They’ve chitted well so they went into pots and will be kept in the greenhouse for now.

Then it was the small task of looking if all the seed trays are well watered and that’s that for today. Tomorrow is another day….010