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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SUCCESS

All seems to be growing well and I’m busy harvesting some fab vegetables. This must be the first year I managed to grow some decent carrots – I said that before, the variety is called Flakkee and I am delighted!

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Not only carrots are doing well but also the beetroot – a mix of types, all very tasty.

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The pigeons on our allotment are so desperate that they peck at anything, even lettuce seedlings! The only thing to do was to grow almost everything vulnerable in a net cage – garden peas for one. This is the first year I managed to pick a decent amount – only because I put them in one of my net cages.

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All in all – a great growing year so far.

DIGGING

It is the time of year again – putting the allotment to bed.

It is certainly worth doing the autumn dig slowly, without anything else other than a spade. This plot was unloved and in a terrible state a couple of years ago but as I finished the dig today I’m happy. There is only a small strip of land to dig – after I’ve burned the pile of old raspberry canes etc. I’ll dig the ashes in and the job will be done. Of course I’ve pulled out bindweed roots and some weeds, those will be there for some time yet but the soil is crumbly and full of worms. The potatoes did well so next year it’ll be the turn of pumpkins and courgettes there.

RECORD

After a few days I managed to go to the allotment with the idea that I’ll cut down my raspberries – at least some of them. Before I could do that I had to pick them! I think this is just about the very latest I had some fruit.

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They were very tasty, we had them with some home made yoghurt – the last taste of the summer.

After harvesting them I did finally cut them down and when I go there next time – perhaps tomorrow after my visit to the denist – I’ll spread a load of horse manure on them and let them have a rest over the winter.

SOMETHING DIFFERENT

My friend Anita went to France earlier this year and asked me what she could bring me back. I told her  I’d like a packet of seeds and she surprised me with this beauty!

It is a type of squash but not as we know it. I first saw the seeds some time ago but never managed to buy them. It’ll be interesting to use it. Further report will follow.

A DAY IN THE KITCHEN….

….and the result is a lot of goodies.

First of all I had to boil the apples I picked on the allotment – thanks to the strong wind I managed to find quite a lot. That was done yesterday and it very slowly dripped overninght. I decided to make two savoury jellies – rosemary and garlic. I use a recipe in my favourite book – The preserving book – and use whatever I think might make good jelly. Garlic is a strong favourite.

Next was the making of some soup. As I have a lot of different vegetables on the allotment I try to use them all. My friend Anita recently gave me a great recipe book (you can’t have too many!) and this is the book I use now, very often.

It might not look exciting but it is very tasty. Wilted spinach and Stilton cheese.

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Last but not least was the turn of something quite different. When we went to Brazil some years ago, our friend Lucia taught me how to make their local delicacy – cheese balls. They are very easy to make and once made, impossible to stop eating!001

One good thing about them is that they can be made and frozen; when I need to serve them, say with soup or just as nibbles with wine, I take them out and bake.

All in all, a very productive day.