6. FEBRUARY

It was back to the usual activities in the afternoon, after a fantastic weekend. Thanks to Mike and Nicky, Tom, Kim and the children and Pete, Suzi and Jay we had the best ever birthday weekend in a very long time (that’s what I think!!) A session in a spa with Suzi for me, the Wave experience with the boys – young and older for Frank and then a meal in the Telegraph Hotel for all of us. We had rooms booked so it was a late night for all.

We got home around midday and after unpacking I started doing the usual things – tidying our things, sorting out the seeds that I want to get going, sorting out the propagator and getting the soil in the little trays. Amazing how  much time all this takes, but the propagator is up and running, three out of four trays are done – chillies, peppers, tomatoes and just a few aubergines.

One tray is empty as I’m waiting for my latest seeds to arrive in the post. I have found a new (for me) seed company and ordered some different chillies and tomatoes. They are called Sea spring seeds and I’m hoping that they will be as good as the website suggests.

A NEW START

Yesterday was an unseasonably warm day. I had to remind myself what date it was, it felt like a good day in early spring. It is too wet to do any serious work on the allotment, but saying that, all my serious work is done. The greenhouses are ready for the next growing season and as I have four of them I can spoil myself. I have decided to grow quite a lot of tomatoes, less of aubergines and a good mix of sweet peppers and chillies.

I have a good reason to grow more tomatoes, we are still using my bottled tomato soup and also chopped roasted tomatoes.

The chillies did very well and I have managed to dehydrate them, ready to be used in future recipes.

Yesterday was dedicated to work in my big greenhouse in the back garden. I have got four large grow beds there and I was able to single out and plant all my leek seedlings, also the onion seedlings. I have started those in late November. It seems to work, they are looking good.

I have also planted some garlic cloves, to make sure I have got enough to harvest later. I have garlic already growing on the allotment but you can’t have enough!

That was exactly my thought about onions and leeks so I started two more seed trays with leeks and onions. The plan is to grow quite a lot of vegetables that we like.

BOTTLING TIME…

…..is here again. I always remember my Grandma when it comes to cooking, baking and making jams or bottling. She was able to create something out of nothing or almost nothing. A few basic ingredients and she whipped up something delicious. My Granddad was a keen gardener and had a large plot of land outside our town. We didn’t call it an allotment – he got the land between the two world wars with the view to build on it – as they had two daughters who would one day get married and have children, the house would be big enough for all of them. It didn’t happen and I remember the big area as a lovely garden with a large shed that was big enough to sleep in. We had a well with delicious cold water all year round, he kept rabbits and grew a multitude of fruit and vegetables. And here is where my Grandma came into her favourite role. Whatever he grew she used it and made something out of it. Freezers weren’t around as yet – perhaps somewhere in the West they were but not behind the Iron curtain so she bottled or dried fruit and veg, made compote, jams, you name it she made it. I always recall her larder full of jars and since I have been gardening on my allotment I tried to follow her example. I am quite a way behind but I’m getting there.

This finally brings me to my activity today. In the morning I harvested a full box of my cherry tomatoes and decided to oven roast them with some elephant garlic, also harvested today, and bottle them. Much better to use in cooking than buying a tin of tomatoes. There is no sugar or salt added to my tomatoes and the result is delicious.

Courgettes are another vegetable that keeps on giving. My latest is to make pasta sauce using courgettes, mushrooms, sweetcorn, peas, tomatoes and anything else that I have to hand, chop all veg and cook. As it usually gives me a huge pot so I bottle it.

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Much tastier than any shop-bought and I know that I didn’t add any sugar or salt.

Next I have to do some research how to best use aubergines, one of the greenhouses on the allotment has about seven plants and they all started producing beautiful shiny fruits.

Watch this space.

HARVEST

It is all go on the allotment. This year the raspberries are amazing, I manage to pick a large box every other day. Not sure what I did but whatever it was it worked.

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The same goes for the red and white currants, beautiful. Here I know the reason, I did pamper all the fruit bushes in the fruit cage.

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I also had my first harvest of courgettes and french beans. Both are great, it is amazing how different the taste is when the fruit and vegetables are freshly picked.

 

 

But the biggest surprise are the aubergines. I always thought that they would be difficult to grow – not so. I had one plant last year and it produced some tasty fruit. This year I’m amazed how many I have. It seems that every seed I put in the soil germinated, I have aubergines in the greenhouse in the back garden and in both greenhouses.

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This is the biggest one so far. I have found a few good recipes and am looking forward to using them.

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Not bad for one aubergine. I’ll have to decide which recipe to use….

HARVEST

The weather was rather uncertain today so I got busy harvesting as much and as quickly as I could. Difficult to choose where to start as everything is doing so well. I must have done something right at the start of the year to get this kind of harvest – in just a few hours in the morning. Not only in the greenhouse in the back garden – the aubergines are amazing, the very first time for me.

They made a delicious aubergine parmiggiana. The allotment is producing huge amounts of beetroot, courgettes and other goodies – the fig tree there is only a few years old but has some tasty figs.

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For the first time I have so many tomatoes I have been making tomato soup every few days.

ANOTHER FIRST

As I have two greenhouses on the allotment and one in the back garden I decided to grow aubergines from seed and hope for a good harvest. I use the garden greenhouse as a nursery and an overflow; that is why I have a grand specimen in a huge pot it here.

I have been feeding them with the diluted liquid from my wormery; the ones on the allotment are a bit behind but not much, they’ll soon catch up. All this is very encouraging and I have a plan for next year already – bigger pots and one greenhouse for tomatoes and the other for aubergines and cucumbers.

TOMATOES

I am very happy with my tomatoes this year, I have two greenhouses and they are full of tomatoes and aubergines. So far I have only tiny aubergines but the tomatoes are doing great.

So far I made some tomato sauce and soup and will be making more.

THE END OF APRIL

I had a great day on the allotment today. The weather is good – so far –  and I managed to finish sowing my carrots, beetroot and parsnips. The rest of my leeks are also in the ground – last year I managed to grow just 3 leeks, all the others failed. I am more than making up this year.

Another first is my celeriac. I have only tried once in the past and failed. This year I think is the year where I’m determined to succeed.

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The tomatoes and aubergines are doing very well in the greenhouses….

…and strawberries and my fruit trees are in flower.

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Plenty to keep the mason bees happy.

30. DECEMBER

Today is the last Sunday of the year and the weather was very mild, almost like in the spring. I keep working on the allotment as long as the weather allows me. I have been lucky, the soil on out site drains very well so I can get on with my winter digging.

This is a part of my friend’s plot – he had a lot to organise at home and I offered to do some of his digging. Iust love digging!

Next job was to finish tidying the permanent courgette and squash structures. There were not too many weeds – surprise! – and I put a layer of the wood chip on the paths between them, that way I can walk there even on a wet day.

Just as I was finishing this my friend Dave came and told me that we are going to be putting together my greenhouse. He told me he’ll help when I first got it. I have been looking for another greenhouse for quite a while – one is just not enough as I’d like to have a go at growing water melons and more aubergines. There were moments when I thought that I made a mistake, all I saw was an organised pile of glass panes and the dismantled skeleton. It is nice to know somebody who knows exactly what to do with all this….

All I have to do now is to give it a good scrub – it has been lying there for a number of weeks, get some more clips to fix the panes of glass and build a couple of raised beds inside.

Watch this space.

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!