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!

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.

COOKING MARATHON

I managed to harvest a lot of produce yesterday so today was to be a day at home, cooking.

I brought home a lot of courgettes, of course, some beetroot and another bag of little apples. I followed the advice of Bob Flowerdew who said – thin the apples on the branches, go and have a cope of tea and when you come back to the tree, thin some more. I did just that and the result was a full carrier bag of reasonable little green apples – perfect for making jelly.

I was reminded also yesterday morning by my friend that she just finished my jar of garlic jelly. I quite forgot that I made it last year so this glut of little apples was just on time.

I used the recipe for chilli jelly from my favourite book of preserves and use crushed garlic instead of chillies. The result is delicious.

003The next on the list were the courgettes, apart from those I also picked some french beans and cauliflower, so I decided to make Piccalilli. This time the recipe is exactly as it appears in the book. Of course I had to start yesterday in the evening, soaking the veg in brine. It is quite a lengthy job but well worth it. Everybody says that my piccalilli is much better than the bought one.

002It took a bit of organising to fit it all into one day; the courgette chutney needed to start with sprinkling the sliced courgettes with salt and draw the water out but as one lot was cooking the other was waiting to be rinsed and drained. Beetroot was cooked last night and peeled so all I had to do was to make the chutney. These two were made using the recipes I already used, they’re very popular so I didn’t see any reason to look for new ones.

All in all I made 26 jars of preserves, managed to run out of turmeric (fortunately a nearby corner shop sells it) and the hose smells like an oriental spice stall.

COURGETTES AND OTHER VEG

I always think that my courgettes aren’t going to do anything and they always prove me wrong. This year is no different.

The only change is the varieties I grow – yellow as before but very pale green ones I haven’t tried. I made a casserole with the green, yellow and pale ones today and it was delicious. It didn’t look very exciting but the taste was exceptional.

I use my favourite book of recipes, my son Mike gave it to me the first year I ever grew courgettes and I think he was concerned that I didn’t have enough recipes. No need to worry now!

002Not only do the courgettes grow well, I am very pleased to have grown my first perfect cauliflower ! Cabbage and calabrese is not in the same class but I’m happy all the same.

It certainly was worth going to the farm and getting a car load of sacks filled with horse manure!

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT

It all started with one bought net tunnel. Now they are multiplying like the proverbial rabbits!

A couple of years ago I was given as a Christmas present a net tunnel. Our allotment area is plagues by pigeons who try to eat any kind of brassica leaf – why don’t they nibble on weeds or even lettuce? They even devour small swede or radish seedlings so I have to cover them until they get a bit bigger then the birds seem to lose interest.

The only ‘problem’ with having one net tunnel is crop rotation. I know I shouldn’t grow brassicas on the same patch of soil two years running. To move the tunnel is beyond me – life is too short to complicate it with that.

A simple answer – have more tunnels, or cages as it happens. Today I finished my last creation and I’m very happy with it. All it took was some wood, netting, nails and a couple of hours of my time. Job done.

I even went round all the other cages and fixed some small problems – the wood holding the ‘door’ had to be wrapped in the netting and secured with zip ties to stop it unravelling when I’m opening the door to get in and out. A small problem but quite a nuisance really.

That means that I have enough space to plant all my brassica seedlings – cabbages, cauliflowers, kale, sprouting broccoli and kohl rabi and I don’t have to worry that I’ll run out of space. I will have two net cages where I have to plant ‘others’ – outdoor tomatoes, lettuce and perhaps dwarf beans; next year I can swap. As long as I don’t plant the same plants of brassica family in the same cages I should be fine.