1. AUGUST

I knew that today was ‘stay in the kitchen’ day and I was right. The result is wonderful, well worth the time spent chopping and slicing. A few trips up into the loft to collect some more jars for bottling the pickled beans and Kilner jars for the bottling and all is done. The huge lot of jars is rapidly going down, there are no more Kilners there, only the ones I have ready downstairs. Never mind, that can be sorted out.

I used the box of blackberries to bottle them, just packed them in the jars and pressed down, they were so juicy nothing else was needed.

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They will make a perfect desert in the winter.

Next on the list were the beans – I had a lovely mix of different climbing beans so I decided to make something savoury for a change.

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We’ll have to wait a few months to let them mature but they are perfect, very tasty. I might be making some more, there will be many more beans.

The last but not least were the tomatoes, courgettes and a few of the left over beans. My latest favourite product, pasta sauce.

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It was in the middle of the afternoon that I finally did the last lot of washing up and labelled all the jars. 

Tomorrow is another day, I’m sure I will find something else to do on the allotment and harvest more goodies.

31. JULY

There was some rain during the night but not enough. The soil in the back garden looked damp but when I got to the allotment everything there looked parched, no difference from previous days. I wasn’t going to do a lot as the afternoon turned quite hot, just watering the greenhouses and perhaps filling the water butts as the level in them is rather low.

I wasn’t expecting this kind of harvest though – everything has slowed right down. Not this lot

The plums are from our communal fruit trees, there are quite a few so I took only some. Tomorrow morning will be devoted to manufacturing – I think I’ll make some more bean, courgette and tomato pasta sauce and the rest of the beans I’ll steam to have for lunch. It is a mix of different climbing beans, runner beans and purple french climbing beans. They are delicious quickly steamed with some butter and herbs.

The cucumbers are excellent, I pick a few every time I go there. I eat them instead of fruit, they are very refreshing

24. JULY

At last the temperature is a bit easier to work on the allotment, however my activities are rather curtailed. I have great plans on the way there – I’ll do the weeding here, collect the cut branches there etc. It is the same every time I go there and it always finishes in the same way – only a fraction of jobs get done. Take today. I was hoping to get on with watering all the plants in the four greenhouses but when I got to the farm I  noticed that the blackberries had turned black overnight. I wanted to  make some jam so I decided to pick them first and then do the other jobs. This didn’t take too long and I had two full boxes quite quickly.

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As I started watering the greenhouses I realised the tomatoes needed picking as well, even though I had a large bag of them a couple of days ago. Another little delay but well worth it, I could make more pasta sauce because I also picked a handful of sweet chillies in yet another greenhouse.

After that I finally got going with the watering and after that came a few more jobs – cutting off some of the tomato foliage and tying the plants to their sticks, weeding inside the greenhouses and here I thought – how come the weeds always grow so well, even if the plants I want growing are struggling. There must be some kind of logic here but I can’t see it.

I was slowly getting round to all  the jobs I wanted to do, even managed to harvest some runner beans and other climbing beans. I wanted to make more pasta sauce, this time a mix of tomatoes, peppers and the beans. It all together made a huge potful and I have kept one portion for us for tomorrow’s lunch, the rest is already bottled in my Kilner jars. All will be very nice in the middle of the winter.

 

As the last thing in the evening I made the jam. I had more than enough so I got two Kilner jars of blackberries as well as all the jam. I’d better slow down a bit with the jam making, there isn’t much storage space left and I’m beginning to run out of empty jam jars.

There are very dark clouds overhead and I’m hoping we might get some rain at night. I think I will work in the back garden at home tomorrow, and I must catch up.

10. MAY

I usually grow broad beans every year, sow them in the middle of October and hope that the mice are not going to eat every single one. This year it worked, the plants grew well and overwintered fine. We didn’t have a hard winter so all was ready in March to get going. I had to prop the plants up, they grew quite tall and some of them flopped over. In the end they looked good, flowered well and only some of them got attacked by the dreaded blackfly. I pinched the soft tips and that helped. I was quite surprised today when I saw a lot of very nice pods. I like to pick the few early ones when they are quite small, the beans inside are just about visible. I use them whole, just chop them into small pieces and use them in my favourite soup – chunky vegetable one. Anything and everything goes in and I finish it with some Orzo pasta, serve with either my bread or a garlic baguette.

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I also grow climbing beans, these are still in the greenhouse starting to sprout. I have toyed with the idea of sowing them directly in the ground but again thought of the mice. There was room in the greenhouse in the back garden so I’m doing it this way.

The best surprise came in the evening, as I was thinking that I should move some of my large flower pots close to the pond, stand them on the edge so the heron wouldn’t be able to perch  there. The pots have got big hostas in and the one large pot I was hoping to move has one of my Himalayan lilies in. I didn’t know if it would flower this year, they only do it every few years. Last time I had a flower on it was in May 2018 ( I checked it in the blog). I was rather surprised to see two buds on stems so that will be an extra showpiece by the pond.

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The slugs like the leaves as much as they like hosta leaves so I’ll have to think of some protection.

5. MAY

Everything on the allotment is doing well and as the weather is nice ( the forecast is good for the next number of days) I decided to plant out my sunflower plants. These are the Johnson competition sunflowers, they were in flowerpots on the veranda so they were ready to go out. I gained a strip of ground between two of my greenhouses, they will be sheltered there and it should be a bit warmer too.

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I also dug some rich compost in before planting three sunflowers, supported with a cane.

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I had more plants, they were not so big and I just placed them randomly here and there, it’ll brighten the plot, all 12 of them.

The strawberries are flowering very well, I even saw some fruit on the plants and I’m sure the birds have spotted it as well. That meant my next job was to cover all the raised beds. I have got the nets for the job, the biggest problem is to remember which net goes where. The beds are not all the same size but I think I have managed.

I will have a little break now as the next vegetables will be all kinds of climbing beans and courgettes and squashes. These are now in seed trays and are already sprouting. There is also sweetcorn – first of all I thought I’d wait for the weather to warm up even more and sow them in the ground directly but there was the possibility of mice eating the seed. Better be safe, there was room in the big greenhouse in the back garden.

2. FEBRUARY

Every year I grow a lot of climbing beans. Not just runner beans but a lot of different ones. They are all nice to eat fresh, just as we pick them – best are steamed (I always steam all my vegetables, that way nothing gets lost). But after the last two summers, where I constructed the usual double lines of bean poles joined at the top and they got knocked over in the sudden high mid-summer winds, I decided to change the set up. This time I erected only a single line of beanpoles and joined them by two levels of horizontals and also placed them beside my greenhouse and the net cage, that way they’ll be sheltered.

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27. JANUARY

And the work goes on. It was another nice day today and I had a lot to do. Unfortunately our dustmen are on strike and today was the last occasion where they emptied the household bins. Recycling stopped a while ago and I’m not sure when it will start again. The garden recycling is no problem as yet, nothing needs doing in the garden and anything else that I would prune I’d burn. Not really environment friendly but I have started burning cardboard boxes etc in my ancient chimenea. It has got a crack all the way down but as it is in a metal three legged stand, that holds it together.

After I finished burning the last batch of boxes I went to the allotment, it was too nice not to go. I took all the ashes from the chimenea down there and put it on my compost. Then it was the turn of strawberry beds. I didn’t do very much with them in the last few years so I had a good clear out. A couple of the beds I re-did completely and the others I just thinned out. There is just one left so that’ll be for another day.

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I have decided to grow climbing beans beside my latest greenhouse so I spread a couple of large sacks of the lovely rich soil from the cannabis factory (September 2021). It will provide a nice shelter for them.

WEEDS ?

Weeds are plants that are in the wrong place – I’m sure they think they’re just lovely. I have a continuous battle with them – but not everywhere on the plot. One part I was able to prepare for planting garlic just by hoeing, there were almost none there. Another one, like inside the fruit cage was a morning job, they were very stubborn and plentiful. I’m delighted to say that all is fine in that fruit cage.

When I first started working on my plot I had to do a lot of digging – it was overgrown and all the stuff I cleared I deposited at the very back. That was 12 years ago. Amazingly this bit of ground is in use now, I tried to clear it a couple of years ago and it certainly was well worth it. This year it was a home for some Borlotti beans and a few courgette plants, Zephyr.

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The soil here is amazing, rich and crumbly and this time forking it over was very easy, hardly any weeds and certainly no bindweed roots. I think I’ve cracked it.

Next to do was the little area close to my oldest greenhouse. It is right at the beginning of that plot and was always rather mixed. It has a line of blackberries and loganberries there, a couple of pear trees, an apple and a damson. The apple tree is a miniature, Elstar, but it had so many apples that I had to prop the branches up. The damson was only a thin stick given away years ago when I went with my son and his wife to an open day in their local garden. It even had a few damsons on this year but I didn’t do anything with them. I’ll wait till the harvest is bigger.

 

The first piece of land that I cleared after the harvest was under a number of bags of the reclaimed potting compost from the cannabis growing house and a large number of big flower pots. Once I managed to put the soil in some stronger bags and moved them next to the nearest greenhouse and stacked the pots there as well, I was able to sow my broad beans here. They germinated very well and I’m glad I protected them with some sweetcorn stems, just so the birds or squirrels wouldn’t be tempted to pull them out. I think it worked.20211022_153645

READY TO GROW

As most of my digging is done I decided to get the structures for growing climbing beans ready. I’m keeping all these structures at the back of the plot, they are all rather tall so it will not obstruct the view. I will grow pumpkins and squashes further to the front of the plot. There will be areas of potatoes and root crop – all is already earmarked.

CUCUMBERS AND COURGETTES

My courgettes always did well on the allotment but I am adding cucumbers to the list this year. I have a couple of plants in each greenhouse and they are producing very well. I like munching on a sliced cucumber but there are limits to what I can manage….

and I decided to find something else. After searching I discovered a recipe for ‘quick pickled cucumber‘ and just tried it. Just delicious!

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The next huge harvest are courgettes, every year is the same. I thought I’d like to try something else and after another search found a recipe for fermenting vegetables. I mistakenly thought it to be very complicated. Not this recipe! I will have to be patient, follow the instructions very carefully and try it later. Watch this space.

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I had just enough of the following vegetables: courgettes, dwarf beans, Borloto beans, kohl rabi, courgettes and a small green chili pepper.