29. NOVEMBER

At last I was able to start weeding the fruit cage today. This was one of the places I looked at regularly and kept weeding. All the same the weeds just grew and grew.

I started by pulling out first the tall weeds, dandelions and thistles and then continued just turning the ground with my hoe and clearing everything else. This is going to keep me busy for a while, no quick fix here I’m afraid. Not only did I have to cope with the weeds inside the cage but also there was the narrow path between the cage and the net tunnel to clear.

 

After the whole morning I have got this path altogether sorted out and a part of the cage. To be continued another time.

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20. NOVEMBER

I have had my wish – the day started nice and sunny again so straight after breakfast I went down to my allotment. I had a plan but that by itself doesn’t always mean that I will follow it. I usually start one job and from the corner of my eye I see something so I see to that and don’t finish the first task. Not today though.

The large Asian pear didn’t have much fruit this year  but it gave me loads of golden leaves.

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I have made a chicken wire enclosure for making leaf mould so I have swept all the leaves and put them there. It is quite full now but come the spring it will shrink down .

Next on my list of things to do today was to weed the little net cage I made a  number of years ago. My friends were getting rid of their trampoline and offered me the stand. Excellent to make a frame for a net cage. Use the two halves, put some sturdy canes or tubes in the  make it higher, attach some horizontal wood, cover with a green scaffolding netting and a cage is done. Make do and mend – the best way to add structures.

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Some time later it all looks much better. I have just got blackcurrants there, the birds can’t get at them.

 

This was on the list of things to do but I had some time left so I managed to clear the narrow strip of land beside this cage, it will be ready for the sunflowers next year. They can have extra support sitting just beside the cage.

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18. NOVEMBER

What a difference a day makes – it was sunny and quite mild in the morning and I felt much happier straight away. I’m a fair weather person, if I could choose I would ban snow and dark evenings. Never mind, I just have to put up with it, wait for the shortest day and after that all will gradually improve.

I went to the allotment with the idea to finish weeding a reasonable piece of land – that was the orchard. It is right at the end of one of my plots, in front of the shed. I’ve got a good selection of fruit trees – a few figs, a couple of apples, pear and two plums.

We had a very good harvest this year and as I started working there I remembered what my Granddad always said – keep an area the size of the crown of the tree clear of weeds around the trunk. I did that and also decided what I will put in between the trees. I will scatter some summer-flowering plants and beside the net tunnel I will put some wigwams with sweet peas.

The rain was very good for me, the soil was soft but not water-logged, we have very good drainage on the whole site. It also helps to be on a  slight slope.

As I was weeding I also mended the net cage, this is the very first one but it keeps going. It just needed to pull the weeds from the end  of it and fix the pegs again. I’m sure it will last another few years.

I had another surprise plant growing there – the physalis with the blue flowers. I have tried to search for it, all I found was the plants with yellow flowers but not this one. The search continues.

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22. OCTOBER

Today was an ideal day for digging. I started on the allotment around 10.30 and as I didn’t have to  cook I took a flask of coffee with me and worked. It was highly enjoyable and it felt almost like a late spring day. I decided to tackle a bigger area and the place to work on today was my large net cage. I had a mix of vegetables there – peas, chard that survived from  last year and a group of yellow pear tomatoes. The tomatoes and peas have finished a while ago but the chard was growing well.

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I harvested it with the idea to make our favourite lasagne.

It took quite a while to clear all the old plants and weeds but it was well worth it. The soil is crumbly and rich , I didn’t pull out the chard, it will grow again for another harvest. That’s the beauty of chard, it grows well, doesn’t bolt and after cooking it it doesn’t shrink as much as spinach. The cage is ready for next year, I will have some wigwams for growing peas, amaranth and perhaps some tomato plants.

All this work was made easy thanks to my favourite tool – the azada.

As I was working inside the cage I could hear and see my resident robin getting very agitated because he couldn’t get to the worms. So after I finished inside the cage I cleared the new raspberry patch next to the cage. It is only small but the robin was waiting on top of the fruit cage next to it and when I left he started looking for his worms.

All this work took a good few hours,  I came home after three pm but there was no time to rest, the chard had to be cooked, white sauce made and lasagne assembled. We shall have our favourite for lunch tomorrow.

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27.SEPTEMBER

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.

17. JULY

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.

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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.

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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.

11. JULY

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.

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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….

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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…

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I had to put a lid under, they were so heavy they rested on the soil.

5. JULY

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.

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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.

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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.

12. MAY

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.

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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