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.

20. MARCH

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.

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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.20220320_133753

26. JANUARY

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.

23.JANUARY

It was a dull and grey day today but fortunately no wind so I was able to finish the pea netting door on the two new fruit cages.

I finished the transplanting yesterday so I just had to create the door and check if the blackcurrant cuttings I took late autumn started rooting. I’m delighted to say they did so I have got about five new blackcurrant bushes. They grow quickly so I’m sure within a few years we’ll have a great harvest.

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I kept enough room for these cuttings to fit in the smaller cage so both are now full. The door is secured so all I have to do is to wait and water it from time to time. 

Doing this also helped me to create a bit of space in the original large fruit cage. I had too many currant bushes there, including two jostaberries and a white currant. I moved them to  the new net cages and it all looks much better.

18. JANUARY

There are going to be some changes on the farm this year.

As a very first structure I built was a polytunnel – nothing special, a metal frame and a green plastic cover. It was quite big, it was as long as the width of one plot. It was fine for the first few years but then things started going wrong. First of all the zip on the door broke and very soon small holes were appearing in the plastic. I didn’t give up because the frame was sound so I just pulled the plastic cover off and instead of that covered it with green netting. It has been working very well all this time, I have been growing vegetables there every year, rotating the crops regularly.

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A new idea came to me this year – to enlarge my soft fruit area. The fruit cage is full but I have decided to use this tunnel to put my blackcurrants there. To make it accessible for the bees and other pollinators I’ve taken the fine mesh off that was the door and will install a new door made out of pea netting.

All I had to do today was to dig it over, spread a few sacks of compost over and next time I can move the bushes. 

There will be a couple of new ones there, two chuckleberry bushes,and the blackcurrants. The two new bushes will be delivered on Thursday together with a new apple tree.

After I’ve done this I’ll just have one more net cage to sort out and all these structures will be ready.

The next task are strawberry beds. I have started already, all I need to do is to move some plants from another net cage (an old greenhouse covered with fine netting) complete one new bed and then just thin out and weed the others.

The net covered greenhouse will be used to grow broccoli as I never grew broccoli there yet.

CLEARING UP

I was hoping the weather would be kind to me today, yesterday was fine but first thing in the morning the sky was very grey and just as I was thinking of going to the allotment it started drizzling. Fortunately I started making more blankets, not the baby ones this time, I’m making large ones, either to throw over on the bed or wrap over your knees on a chilly winter’s day so I had something to keep me busy in the morning.

Everything improved after lunch and I was able to get to my ‘farm’. I’m continuing with my no-dig policy and it works just fine, the ground is reasonably weed free to start with and it takes much less effort.

Having finished this part I have only my orchard to do on this plot and that won’t be too difficult, I keep it quite tidy most of the time. I have got two more plots to do but one of them is almost done – there are four greenhouses on it, a raspberry patch and a line of composter bins so that won’t take too much time either. On the last plot I have three net cages, a number of rows of parsnips and carrots so all in all things are looking up.

I’m putting the greenhouses to sleep for the winter but there are a few things in one of them. I am very pleased with my red pepper, it is the very first time I managed to grow them.

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CARLIN PEAS

They can also be called black peas or heritage peas. I have discovered them a few years ago and, as my motto it, try anything once, I grew them. Of course I forgot that the pigeons who frequent our site are a greedy lot, was late covering them and just managed to save a few pods. Things improved with time and this year I think the harvest was the best ever.

I decided to grow them in one of my net cages, they were protected from birds and I was able to support the row that grew beside the net. They are not heavy, they attach themselves to the net but are easily removable when dry. In a few words – I’m happy with the harvest.

WINTER

I don’t much care for snow and all that – getting on a bit, but I was never very sporty, even as a young girl. I was glad I took the top net off from the fruit cage. I went to the allotment on Monday, it was a lovely crisp day, blue skies and a fair layer of snow. I have got a number of net cages there as well, I wanted to make sure I knock the snow off those.

I did that but as I was coming out of the last net cage I managed to trip and fall –  face first into a strawberry bed with a deep snow cover. Just as well I don’t have a photo – the glasses did most of the damage, they were quite out of shape but not broken. My nose was fine – I tweaked it to check for any fractures and all was well.

It didn’t really bleed but the bruises started to form and now I look like a panda. Just as well we are under lockdown, by the time we’ll be able to go out I’ll look reasonable again.

This is the view from my back door – it did look lovely, like a thick layer of icing sugar everywhere. It didn’t last long though.

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PEAS AND BEANS

I am delighted with this harvest. It is just the start, there is plenty more to come.

I knew I had to protect my peas from the hungry pigeons so I planted them all in one of my net cages. Perfect result, all peas are mine!

The same case were the broad beans – this time it wasn’t the birds but black fly. All plants are very healthy and I have started picking. Both peas and beans are really tasty, you can’t get anything better than fresh vegetables, home grown. Get them as you need them.

WEEDS

We had a little drop of rain last night, just enough to soften the surface of the soil. It didn’t penetrate deep at all but was just enough to make the weeding a bit easier. Today was the turn of the brassica cage. I have a number of purple sprouting broccoli, kohlrabi, red cabbages and curly kale there and a lot of weeds. Amazing that they grew so well as  May was extremely dry. It was a job for the whole morning.

A few hours and a stiff back later it looked much better.

It is a pity I can’t make any use of the bucket of weeds…

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And after all the work I sprinkled a good amount of my feeding mix – fish, blood and bone and chicken manure pellets all around the plants. As I am writing this the long-awaited rain came so it should all soak in. Another net cage to weed tomorrow, and another the day after…..