11. JUNE

A few days ago I decided I would pick my strawberries every second or third day. Today was the third day so I took my empty boxes to the allotment with the view to pick some strawberries. Well, the boxes were filling up so fast I had to go and search in my shed for some more. I was lucky, found one with a lid,  quite a good size as well. It felt I have been picking for ages. After that I just had enough strength to water my four greenhouses and the sweet potato plants, pick a few rhubarb sticks for the tasty crumble and then staggered home. I knew the harvest was good, the bags were heavy but I didn’t expect 7,6 kilo!

20220611_124139

It was a very easy decision – more jam to make and tomorrow I will make a tray bake. It is a sponge base with strawberries evenly placed on tom. It is delicious and any fruit can be used, it was nice with pieces of rhubarb too.

20220611_193734

Another 12 jars of lovely jam. From the farm into the jars in a few hours, not bad.

27. JANUARY

And the work goes on. It was another nice day today and I had a lot to do. Unfortunately our dustmen are on strike and today was the last occasion where they emptied the household bins. Recycling stopped a while ago and I’m not sure when it will start again. The garden recycling is no problem as yet, nothing needs doing in the garden and anything else that I would prune I’d burn. Not really environment friendly but I have started burning cardboard boxes etc in my ancient chimenea. It has got a crack all the way down but as it is in a metal three legged stand, that holds it together.

After I finished burning the last batch of boxes I went to the allotment, it was too nice not to go. I took all the ashes from the chimenea down there and put it on my compost. Then it was the turn of strawberry beds. I didn’t do very much with them in the last few years so I had a good clear out. A couple of the beds I re-did completely and the others I just thinned out. There is just one left so that’ll be for another day.

20220127_153601

I have decided to grow climbing beans beside my latest greenhouse so I spread a couple of large sacks of the lovely rich soil from the cannabis factory (September 2021). It will provide a nice shelter for them.

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.

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.

20220118_134517

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.

MAY ACTIVITIES

It is all go on the allotment now. Fortunately the weather has been good so far, so I was able to plant and build. I was also able to harvest some of my produce – lettuce, that has been going for some time and now some young broad beans. Never mind waiting for the pods to mature and then shell them – we like to pick the young pods and chop them whole and add to a salad. Delicious!

Last year was not good at all, the pigeons had a great time eating all my young plants, so this time I planted a lot in one of my net cages. I put them in the ground in October, they grew well and continued to do well in the spring. As they started flowering I was wondering if I will get any beans, seeing that they were under cover. I didn’t have to worry, they are producing lovely pods and I don’t have to share them with pigeons.

It seems I have to cover quite a lot – lettuce for example. I did have a poly tunnel some years ago but the plastic started breaking. The structure was sound so with a bit of help from Mike we covered it in green netting and it works a treat. I even managed to build raised beds in there.

20190525_181332

Strawberries were the next thing to cover – I have got a number of raised beds, just to make it easier to put the net over them. It pays off, I harvested my first two sweet strawberries yesterday.

20190525_123141

Every year I try to grow something new. This year it is water melon. I have got three plants, all inside a greenhouse and one of them is showing signs of wanting to start climbing. Keep fingers crossed! I’d be happy with just one melon.

20190525_183208

It is not just vegetables that are doing well – my beautiful rose and clematis are a delight.

I did a count of my tomato plants – I think this year will be a bumper year, I have 80! It may seem a lot but they are all different varieties – Costoluto Fiorentino, Long Tom, Super Marmande, Ailsa Craig, Czech Bush, just to name a few! I didn’t have this many last year and I still use the last few I bottled. They freeze well, cooked of course. A win-win situation.

ALL IN ORDER

Amazing what a day of rain can do – it seems that everything has doubled in size. I thought I had the weeding under control but how wrong was I!!

There was nothing else but get down to it and weed….and weed again. As a result I have got very nice and regimented rows of carrots, beetroot and broad beans. Potatoes are usually in order but even the humble spuds are quite orderly.

The next job was to construct a couple of frames for my next year strawberry beds. I had this idea that I’d surround an area of land with planks of wood and next year I would grow strawberries there – much easier to protect – just throw a net over the whole structure.

I was lucky, my friend on the site had an asparagus bed that he no longer wanted. It was a quick job to dismantle the whole thing and install it on my plot! Exactly as I wanted!