22. NOVEMBER

Things usually work out for me. I was really tired yesterday after my Sunday work on the allotment so I didn’t go there. The weather also helped – it was raining. It was kitchen work instead. On Sunday my friend Dave gave me quite a few shallots, he always grows a lot of them and mine didn’t do very well this year. I never pickled them before so I thought I’d have a go. I had to start the whole process on Sunday evening, it continued overnight and the whole job was finished yesterday after lunch. Luckily I had all the ingredients so now I just have to wait about three to four weeks and then we can sample them.

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Also thanks to Dave I will grow broad beans. I had a good harvest but right in the end the plants got completely smothered with black flies so I wasn’t going to bother. Dave gave me quite a lot of them so on Sunday I put some in the first net cage I cleared.20221119_153406

Perhaps this might stop the attack.

Today was the next little net structure’s turn to be cleared. This is a little greenhouse that Simon on the allotment didn’t have glass for. Waste not want not so I  moved it to this spot and covered with the green netting. A perfect little net cage.

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The peas that I grew there this year did very well but now the weeds took over. Fortunately the ground is soft so it didn’t take too long to clear it.

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I also found a number of strawberry plants there, these were the ones my friend Eva gave me years ago. I grew them  there but moved them later. These ones survived so they deserved to carry on. I also put the rest of the broad beans in.

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now – just the fruit cage to clear out and I’m finished. As it is so mild I’m sure the weeds will start growing again but it would just be a bit of maintenance.

23.OCTOBER

Yesterday I had one more vegetable to harvest – my peppers and chillies. I grew all of them in one greenhouse, seeing I’ve got four greenhouses on the allotment I dedicated each to one kind of vegetable.

The small yellow ones are Lemon drop and are quite hot. The large green ones are sweet peppers called Friggitello and are very nice and prolific . Even though it is almost the end of October I’m leaving the plants in the greenhouse, they have a number of smaller peppers on and I think I might get some more.

5.OCTOBER

Wednesday is my usual day to do some shopping. I drive to a group of shops not far from us and as the parking there is limited I go quite early. That seems to work, today was no exception. I came back nice and quickly and as the weather was reasonable I went to the allotment. My garlic order came yesterday and I wanted to plant it as soon as I could. The two raised beds were ready so the time was right. I planted three different types of garlic – Thermidorme, Rhapsody Wight and Maddock Wight. All this almost filled the two beds, there is only a small area left but that doesn’t matter, I’ve got one more garlic order due to come.

What I won’t fit in there I can plant in my large grow bed in the greenhouse at home, let it grow and then in the spring transplant it in the ground on the allotment. That will  give me time to get the ground ready. I had basil growing in the grow bed but I decided to harvest it for the last time to make some more pesto. It is amazing how delicious home made pesto is. I have got a fool-proof recipe for it.

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It makes quite a lot but I freeze it shaped like a log wrapped in grease-proof paper and when I need some I can just slice off enough for the meal.

When the grow bed was empty I enriched the soil with some double strength peat-free compost from my favourite place in the Lakes – Dalefoot peat free compost.

It is ready now for the garlic planting.

About two weeks ago I saw in a restaurant review article a mention of Sichuan pepper. That intrigued me, I did a little search and the result is I have got two little plants, which came today. I potted them into larger pots and will live in hope.

I was looking to buy these plants and found them in a nursery I never knew before – Jurrasic Plants Nurseries. They offer a large range of unusual plants and mine arrived well wrapped and secure, very efficiently done.

HARVESTING

It it the busiest time of the growing year. The soft fruit is ready, strawberries are almost over, blueberries will start shortly and raspberries are plentiful. That’s just the fruit, I haven’t mentioned the vegetables – cucumbers, peas, spinach lettuce and this year I have managed a lovely crop of basil in my greenhouse at home. Never mind pesto, tomatoes and basil is a combination made in heaven.

DECEMBER

I thought it was just about time to make some more strawberry jam – yes, in the middle of December. As we have had such hot summer I decided to freeze quite a lot of my fruit harvest – strawberries, raspberries and all different types of currants. I did make some jam using the freshly picked fruit but the rest was carefully weighed, labeled and frozen. Yesterday’s job was very easy, just selected enough frozen strawberries (2 kilo), got the sugar ready, lemon juice and a bottle of Certo and after defrosting the fruit and a short cooking time…

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It is not just edibles that are making me happy. My two Christmas cacti are looking their very best this year!

 

MAINTENANCE CONTINUES

I thought that the load of wood chippings would last for a long time. How wrong was I!

After doing the main path on the allotment I started on another one, this time between one of my plots and my friend’s. This path wasn’t very good – our site is on a slope and some paths tend to become uneven, one side much higher than the other. In the end it was quite simple – I managed to shave off the higher side, turned the turf upside down and filled the lower side. Then the whole path got covered with the beautiful wood chippings. Immediate improvement!

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HARVEST TIME…

…is here again. Even though we didn’t have much rain my harvest was great.  I kept picking courgettes all the time, then carrots started. Now tomatoes are something else – I haven’t had a harvest like this yet and all of them are growing outside, in net cages. Amazing. I made passata, tomato soup, bottled chopped tomatoes for the winter, you name it and I made it. Even though beetroot didn’t germinate very well, I am picking some great ones, my Asian pears are delicious.

 

My little greenhouse on the allotment is well worth the money – never had so many cucumbers!

For the first time I managed to grow aubergines – I have a couple of plants in the greenhouse in the back garden and I have fruit on them! For the first time.20180901_192321

One evening on a walk we saw some black grapes hanging over a fence, we picked some and the result is delicious jelly

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The only downside of it all is that I don’t have enough hours in the day. I’m feeling my age too.

The icing on the cake are my figs.

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I bottled them in red wine, ever so tasty!

PAMPERING…

..and talking to my plants certainly works. If a certain member of the royal family can do it, so can I.

There are two schools of thought as far as looking after tomatoes is concerned – take the leaves off or don’t. I go with the first one and it seems to work.

To be honest, I was feeding them with a mix of seaweed extract, comfrey tea and the liquid from my wormery. On top of than I topped the soil in the grow pots with Farmyard manure and soil improver from B&Q. Something must have worked!

The squashes are climbing well up and along the structures I’ve constructed for them, they have also been fed with the seaweed extract and some Fish, blood and bone.

And of course, all of them get encouragement from me!!

FEBRUARY

Well, another gardening year is upon us. Doesn’t the time fly?!

I was lucky that I managed to get most of my digging done when the weather was reasonable during November. Now I just have to go and fork it over and get rid of some persistent weeds – why don’t the slugs and snails like weeds??

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There is only one more piece of land to go over and I shall be ready for the planting and sowing.

That done I was able to concentrate on the greenhouse in my back garden. As the last thing at the end of autumn I sowed some lettuce seeds in one of the big grow bags. Of course the seedlings looked small and a bit pathetic but as soon as the days started getting longer they grew. I had a nice lot of iceberg lettuce seedlings and I managed to transplant them all. With a bit of luck and some more sunshine we shall have our own lettuce soon.

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