A VERY BUSY DAY

I am sure the first of many. If the weather forecast is to be believed we shall have a sunny Bank holiday weekend – whatever next!!

I made most of the lovely day, took some lunch with me to the allotment in order not to waste any time and worked almost till 4pm.

One of the jobs I have is to cut the grass on the paths – I am getting there. It is rather handy as I use the grass to mulch my raspberries. It not only looks good but it is much easier to walk. Unfortunately I have to do it with my shears – somewhat backbreaking but needs must.

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Next came some planting. I have got a fig tree on the allotment already but as they grow quite well from cuttings I shall have a few there. Today was the day to plant another little one and hopefully in the autumn or next spring I shall have a few more.

I’m lucky to have my little greenhouse on the farm and today I started planting my tomato plants there. Some years ago I got some grow rings that were meant for grow bags but I use them in the open soil in the greenhouse and they are just perfect!

Last two years I grew some huge squashes, they managed to climb up on my structures I constructed for them but as one of the large ones – zucca da marmelata – weighed 7 kilo, the whole structure collapsed. The zucca was unharmed but I had to think of something else. I just happen to have a very nice neighbour who is changing some decking in his garden so I have used the horizontal pieces from the banister and the result is just what I wanted.

I will plant one zucca in each corner and they can climb as much as they want, this structure will support them.

And the last job was to plant some cabbages in one of my net tunnels – pigeon protection! I had them outside for quite a while so they are used to the temperature.

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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…..

RESULTS

The weather is helping – sudden spell of warm weather and everything is doing very well. Of course we have to protect things like cabbages against twin attack from pigeons and cabbage white but it is worth it!

The same goes for sweetcorn – protection not against pigeons but squirrels – they cause havoc on the allotment. I decided to try to grow sweetcorn inside my large cabbage cage and it has worked!

I started growing in my new greenhouse a bit late but my cucumber plant managed against the odds…

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…and next year will be great, I can see that now.

Last job yesterday. after harvesting 2 large sacks of potatoes was planting two new strawberry beds. I decided to do it this way, it’ll be easier to throw the net over to protect the crop against the birds.

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The main potatoes are harvested but the late ones, to be ready for Christmas (I hope), are doing very well. I had to earth them up and will be putting the fertiliser on very soon.

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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!

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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PLANTING OUT

I took a gamble and started planting out some of my seedlings. Yestarday was a lovely day so after lunch I took most of my brassica seedlings over to the allotment and planted them out in the recently rejuvenated polytunnel – now a beautiful net tunnel. All in all there are 50 of them there – a mix of kohl rabi, purple kale, cavolo nero and cauliflower.

Even though it is only a net tunnel it feels slightly warmer inside, the mesh is so fine that it seems to stop the worst of the wind. Let us hope for the best.

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I think they’ll be fine.

Next I had to get some of my courgette plants out, they were getting a bit too big. I decided to put them in one of the raised beds where I constructed a support for them. The plants are lowere down so the wind doesn’t affect them.

After that it was just time to have a look how everything is doing – the broad beens are doing very well, I pinched the tops and hopefully this will stop the blackfly invasion.004

The iceberg lettuce, the chinese cabbage and the Daubenton kale are all fine in the first net tunnel. Especially the kale – I bought just one plant and managed to get a number of cuttings, all rooted well and growing – this reduces the need to grow ordinary kale seedlings. This kale is very tasty and I’ve been picking it even during the winter.

IN THE GREENHOUSE

things are starting to grow. I’ve been very good this year and didn’t sow things too soon (as I was used to do, year after year, and everything got very ‘leggy’).

The sunflowers are doing well, got high hopes for my chances in the ‘Johnson competition’.

The same can be said for my selection of different courgettes and squashes. The pumpkins are coming up too, there should be a decent harvest to make more delicious chutneys.

Tomatoes will be just the outdoor types, I’ll grow them in some of my net tunnels. This way they will get a bit of protection from the wind, and with a bit of luck, I shall avoid the dreaded blight. I’ve got a selection of brassicas – cabbages, kale, cauliflowers and kohl rabi. They will all go in the rest of the net cages, somewhere I didn’t grow this kind last year. This way I’ll be able to rotate between the cages, rather then moving any of them. I think I have got enough cages to be able to do that quite well.

THE BEST

I got myself a polytunnel soon after I started working on the allotment. At first all was well – the only snag was the watering; if I went away for a few days I had to ask some friendly gardener there to water the plants otherwise they would’ve perished.

After three years the plastic material started deteriorating, little holes appeared, the door couldn’t be closed because the zip broke – the list of problems was getting longer. However, the metal frame was perfectly sound, so the next step was quite obvious – never mind a new plastic cover, make it into a net tunnel.

And that is exactly what Mike and myself did last Sunday.

From this

after a few hours of fairly hard work to this…

I am delighted with it, it is all ready for planting brassicas – cabbages, kale, kohl rabi – I’m sure I’ll be able to fit quite a few plants in. And from now on I have got enough net cages to rotate my crops – no need to move anything, just remember what was where and change.

Bring it on!

AUTUMN ACTIVITIES

Last night I couldn’t sleep so as I was lying in bed I was thinking what to do next on the allotment (what else?!)

I have got a number of net cages there and the one very close to the shed was due for a rethink. First of all I was going to move it closer to the round net tunnel because I moved my cold frames somewhere else, they were in the wrong place. But then I realised that a few days ago I took a number of cuttings from my Daubenton kale and planted them in this net tunnel. I made a line of them, that will stay there and I won’t have to grow seedlings of kale – saves time, space and money. The rest of this tunnel will have lettuce, peppers and tomatoes, cabbages and different kinds of kale were there this year.

It was surprisingly easy to dismantle the net cage – nothing is wasted though, I managed to roll the net and keep it in the shed, that will be used to cover the strawberry beds next year and the posts are stashed away beside the shed. I’m sure they will come handy too.

All that’s left from the cage are my two giant cabbages. I covered them with a piece of the salvaged net because the birds always look for something to eat – why don’t they nibble weeds??

Talking of birds – I had to put some torn bits of an old video tape around my garlic as the birds were pulling the cloves out!

I decided to grow broad beans this year; I gave them a rest last year but as I have space in the two empty raised beds, why not. The soil was ready and as the sides are quite high it should protect the plants if they should be too tall.

This was the last thing to do on the main plot, all is finished and now I have to wait for next spring.

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In the meantime I’ll be digging the rest of my plots.

CABBAGE

My giant cabbages can’t stay on the allotment forever and today is the day I harvested the smallest one of them.

It may be small but is perfectly formed

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and weighs 3 kilos!!!

So far I found one cabbage soup recipe, will continue my search because I could feed quite a number of people!