It was a clean-up time in the last few days on the allotment. I knew that I took my eyes off the weeds in the corner of one of my plots but when I actually got down to it I was in for a shock. The stinging nettles did very well and filled the space between my net tunnel and the enclosure for discarded pieces of wood and unwanted items.
In the end it was quite therapeutic to hack at the nettles and pile them on the compost heap. During this process I rediscovered another composter bin and that was the best surprise – it was full of beautiful crumbly soil. It must have been there a good few years, I kept adding to it but never emptied it. It reinforced my resolution to leave these bins as long as possible, it pays off.
Of course it followed that I would sort out inside the net tunnel. I have blackcurrants there and as they are still young I had some free space – enough to plant a couple of squashes. These did very well and I harvested one already, it will ripen at home. There are a couple more, a bit smaller so they can stay a while longer.
Because I had a pepper plant in one of my grow beds in the home greenhouse and wanted to use it for something else I harvested the fruit. I have never seen such misshapen peppers before and I haven’t tasted them to see if they are hot or sweet.
They all grew on the same plant and by the looks of the ‘normal’ ones I guess they’ll be hot.
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 plan for today was to do more weeding in two of my net cages where I planted the blackcurrants. First of all I had to follow the usual routine – open all my greenhouses and then start working. I had a very pleasant surprise in one of them – my very first red tomato.
The cucumber and radishes were in another greenhouse but I had to pick them to add to our evening green salad. I still have some lettuce in the greenhouse, one is more than enough for the two of us.
My plan for tomorrow’s lunch is new potatoes, broccoli and oven baked fish. The potatoes are very tasty and they were nothing special, just what we had left from last year’s harvest.
I will certainly grow the broccoli again next year, this is the third picking – the little rosettes grow quite fast and soon are ready to harvest.
Of course there were more raspberries, I only picked this one box. I haven’t got any sugar to make jam, this will be just for us two to have as a desert.
I am amazed how many raspberries I have this year, I’m sure this is thanks to the bees we have on the allotment now, thanks to Mary and Wayne.
After harvesting some broad beans the other day and putting them in the vegetable soup I decided to pick some every few days, chop and freeze them. A great idea, this way we shall have some different beans to cook in the winter.
Today was also planting tomatoes day – I had another seven plants at home and no room anywhere. The greenhouses on the allotment are full so I decided to plant these in the large net cage, there is a square of ground just big enough.
They are strong enough to survive the move but just to be on the safe side I put a surround made out of garden fleece, just to protect them from the wind. I’m sure they’ll be fine, I could even leave it there all the time the tomatoes are there, no harm done.
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.
The great weather continues and that gives me a chance to get on with all the tasks on the allotment. Today was the turn of my large net cage, the soil was all dug over, all it needed was to fluff it up with a hoe and clear the weeds. It is quite a sizeable area, quite a lot to do. I had plans for it – peas of any kind – so I have climbing peas, Carlin (heritage) peas, purple podded peas and ordinary Kelvedon wonder peas. There is a square of soil left and I’d like to put some tomato plants in. Some years ago I did that and the tomatoes did very well.
That was the end of my morning session there. When I got home I had a very nice surprise waiting for me – a large box saying live plants, open immediately. Of course I did and found two very healthy looking honeyberries. I have heard of them but never had one. A very welcome present from Mike. I put both pots in a bucket of water to soak them and read the instructions. I decided to plant them in the fruit cage, it only needed a little re-shuffle – taking out three small chilean guavas and planting them together with the one I already have and the space was ready.
The three small guavas fitted perfectly in the space where the larger one is, it had too many empty patches before.
It is no surprise that my fruit trees are starting to flower. The Chinese pear is way ahead as usual, I just hope we’ll have some fruit this year. Last two years I didn’t have any yet a few years ago we had a glut of pears. They are delicious so I’m hoping to have them again.
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.
It was another lovely day today, perfect for some work on the allotment. I started yesterday but because it was so windy I just managed to prepare the ground for sowing my parsnips. The seeds would have been blown all over the site.
It all worked out just fine anyway, Simon had a greenhouse to move from one plot to another – he wanted to have a clear run on that plot in order to work on it with his rotavator. This greenhouse we moved to a plot where he has a polytunnel already so the two structures are side by side. He took the glass out beforehand and it was quite easy to move it.
Today was a better day, sunny and the wind was much lighter. I was glad that I had the ground ready so I could start sowing straight away. First it was parsnips – I cannot imagine not growing parsnips. I went for the tried and tested varieties – Javelin and Gladiator. Every year I try to sow the seeds very carefully to avoid thinning out too much but this year I think I have done it just right. I’m sure we’ll have some great parsnip. Also I waited a few weeks to let the soil warm up more – again in the past I was a bit too quick to start sowing and the germination was poor. Let us hope for better results this year.
Next task was to sow some beetroot and chard. From past experience I know that I have to grow these in a net tunnel because the pigeons we have on the site would eat the very first leaves and I would have no harvest. That happened to me a few years ago and I have been sowing always under a net cover ever since. This is inside my very first net tunnel, I had to do a bit of repair work but I’m sure it is good for another season.
The rest of the space will be used for growing brassicas – red and white cabbage and broccoli, I’ve put down some lime on the soil already.
The last two plots that were unused have new tenant, Wayne, our friendly tree surgeon who lives next door. He and his Mum keep bees and he has got two of his hives on the plot next to the fence and he’ll be growing on the next one, next to mine. It was a very overgrown plot and he worked magic on it. It is ready for planting. He also planted a few small fruit trees there, his bees will be busy pollinating.
I was looking at my fruit trees, the pear trees are always the first to start flowering. I just hope we don’t get any late frost.
What a difference a few days make. Today was a beautiful spring-like day, blue sky and quite warm. The robin on the allotment was singing his little heart out and I was more than ready to continue.
Some years ago I was given a skeleton of a greenhouse – basically the person didn’t have all the glass for it and as it is quite an awkward shape it would have been rather expensive to get new glass for it.
I had just the spot for it and it worked quite well as a net cage. I grew different crops there, the latest were strawberries. As I have enough beds already I decided to take all the plants out, dig it all over and get it ready to grow cabbages. I never grew any brassicas in there so I’ve got a good chance to be successful.
I saved a large number of the strawberry plants and replanted them in one of my raised beds. The plants were given to me by my Hungarian friend who had a plot next to me some years ago. Before she went back home she gave me the plants so now I have something to remember her by.