LAST DAY OF THE YEAR….

…was devoted to repairs.

After the heavy snowfall just before Christmas I found that a number of my net cages looked in sorry state. I didn’t have the heart to take pictures as I was quite sad about it all. I didn’t think I would be able to repair them.

Amazing what a difference a few days can make. On closer inspections I found that the basic structure was sound, the net collapsed because the horizontal struts ware weak. Thanks to Simon who gave me some long pieces of hard wood I was able to replace the faulty ones, stretch the nets and fix them  – thank goodness for zip ties – and all seems fine.

In fact they look even better now!

Final touch is a path of broken slabs down the middle of the wide ones, just to make it easier to walk there on a wet day. For that I must thank Frank who took the first wheelbarrow load there today and will do one trip each day untill we take them all there – his words. I daren’t think how many there are !!

MUSHROOMS

It is the time of year again when I think where to put what type of fertiliser or compost. I decided to get some more mushroom compost from my favourite place – Livesey Brothers. It was an enjoyable visit; it is not too far, an easy drive and not only did I get 6 large sacks of mushroom compost but also some tasty mushroom. I can already taste the risotto I’ll make in the next few days…..

The compost is earmarked for the net cages where I will grow brassicas next year and also for my fruit cage, I shall fees all my soft fruit bushes – but not blueberries, that’s the wrong stuff for them.

WEEDS

What are weeds? Wikipedia tells me that ‘A weed is a plant considered undesirable in a particular situation, “a plant in the wrong place”. Fine and good but it doesn’t make my life any easier on the allotment.

I often wish that everything grew as well as the weeds – I would have a bumper crop every time. Never mind – get down to it and keep weeding.

 

This is going to be my new net cage. So far it remains empty but I have got a large roll of green netting so first thing in the spring I shall make a cage out of it and it’ll have cabbages growing there – one more net to help with the rotation. But I’m sure before I do that in the early spring I shall have to weed the whole area again. Painting the Forth bridge comes to mind…..

IN FULL SWING

It is harvest time!

As it is so hot these days I started going to the allotment quite early in the morning. The plan is that I will either water the most needy plants with the hose or, on alternate days, feed the ‘special cases’ either with the seaweed extract, comfrey tea or the liquid from my wormery.

It was the turn of the comfrey tea. My, does it stink!! And the smell seems to linger close to the ground, so when I was bending down, I got a good whiff of it. Never mind, the squashes love it!

I managed to pick another large box of strawberries, pulled out a lovely bunch of carrots and a few nice beetroot.

yesterday was a day to thin out the gooseberries…..

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…and I was pleased I had this lovely lot.

Got them home and in no time made a very tasty gooseberry and mint jelly. Goes a treat with cold meat, cheese or a quiche.

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As I was picking the gooseberry I also noticed that the currants are almost ready. That’s the beauty of having the fruit bushes in the net cage – I can take my time picking them, not like in the past where it was a competition between me and the birds. Guess who lost??

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Another benefit of net cages is the ease of growing brassicas. It was the same story in the past – try to stop the birds nibbling the leaves of the young plants so there was hardly anything left. I thought they wouldn’t like kohl rabi. I was wrong. So now the kohl rabi grows in the net cage and nothing gets at it and I can enjoy the fruits of my labour.

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THE FINAL ARTICLE

I had to do a few improvements to my latest cage but after today’s work I’m happy.

Because it stands very close to the path I decided to put a couple of boards between the net and the edge of the path – as I will trim the grass on the path I won’t be able to damage the net. I know it doesn’t look very pretty but it does the job.

The next was a little path leading to the door of the cage – just three slabs and it looks ok. In case I have to get inside on a wet day….

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And the last thing was sprinkling of a mix of annual flowers on both sides of the path. There isn’t enough room to grow any veg but it’ll be nice to have a mix of flowers to attract the bees.

ONE PERSON’S RUBBISH

…is another woman’s treasure.

The guy who left recently not only dismantled his little shed and left it in a pile to be burned but also discarded two large halves of an old trampoline base – he was used to have it on the ground covered with netting to grow cabbages under. To harvest them or to do any weeding he had to crawl on his hands and knees.

Well, I got these two halves and attached metal uprights – from my store of old bits of another trampoline. As these are smaller they fitted well together and the result is..

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…another net tunnel. You can’t have enough of these!

There will be space to grow cauliflowers and all kinds of cabbages and kohlrabi.

Place your orders now!

WAITING GAME

It was very nice to be able to start the new year as I mean to continue.

After yesterday’s deluge we have a lovely crisp sunny day, ideal for a short visit to the allotment.

I have to be patient; got all my seeds sorted out and ready for sowing.001

When I got to the allotment I had to remind myself that everything was ready..

…and decided that it was. Now it is just a question of time. If this year is as good as the last one was for growing things I’ll be happy.

Happy gardening!

JAM

Another summer, another load of jam – my strawberries have started and after eating the first picking I decided to make some jam. All the last year’s jam is gone; I had everything ready and thanks to  Certo the result is as good as ever. There will be more later, my strawberries are a mix of very early ones and some later varieties.001

I decided to cover the strawberry beds with nets because we seem to have a lot of magpies there and they like to pick the fruit – they don’t always eat what they pick, they just drop it on the ground. I think that has helped but it is rather tiring to keep lifting the net and then fixing it over the bed again. Later in the autumn I’m thinking of putting some of the strawberry plants in one of my net cages, the one in a very sunny spot, that’ll make it easier to look after them and keep the birds out too, even the squirrels. I’ve got enough of the net cages to do this (even if I should think that I might need to build another one, after all the effort of constructing all my cages it should be a piece of cake!)

SECOND HALF OF MAY

Well, the weather isn’t too great but everything in the garden – or rather on the plot – is growing fine.

It was rather chaotic in the greenhouse and in the veranda at the back of the house – an organised chaos I must add. The veranda was used for hardening off all the plants before I took them to the farm to plant out and this method worked! Everything on the farm survived the move and is growing well.

Cabbages in the net tunnels, tomatoes, lettuce, Chinese lettuce, climbing beans are all fine. And then there are the hardy types who survived the winter out there – onions, shallots, garlic, strawberries, rhubarb and last but not least the potatoes and raddishes who are trying their best.

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TOMATOES

I have a number of net structures and the latest one, a beautiful, hand made cage was given to me last winter. I put it on my half plot and because there were cabbages in that area last year, I decided to plant my tomatoes there this year. I’m growing only the outdoor kind and the plum type – San Marzano, Roma etc. The plan is to make my own chopped tomatoes or even passata for the winter.

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There are 41 tomato plants in here and three tomatillo plants. All seems well.

Next job for today was planting my climbing beans. I don’t just grow runner beans – only a few of those – but a lot of climbing french beans and Borlotto beans – those I will dry and shell them, they are delicious in soups and stews.

There is one more variety to go out – Spagna Bianco. They are just fantastic, huge white butter beans and they last the whole winter. I still have some in a jar and I used a number of them for this year’s growing.

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And last but not least I have to mention my fruit trees. They’re flowering well, one is a crab apple and the other one an eating apple, we could have a good harvest.

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