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.

 

BEANS

As I have finished all my digging it was time to start getting ready for growing my beans.

Last year’s harvest was great – we had not only freshly picked French and runner beans but also many other beans that I kept on the plants until they ripened and dried and then shelled and stored in jars for the winter. I still have some, they are delicious in soups or casseroles, even just cooked and served with tomato sauce like baked beans.

 

ONE RAINY DAY…..

…and everything looks much greener. I didn’t mind the rain today at all, the ground was so dry and hard it will take e few rainy days to penetrate a bit further down.

These courgette plants are doing very well, they’re just a small sample of the different varieties I have got there. The round one can grow to alarming sizes – last year one of them managed to get to 7 kg! It climbs so I’ll be able to see them well as they get bigger. I saved some seeds from my last year’s giant so these could do just as well.

There are not only courgettes climbing up the structures but also some climbing beans, alas, the blue ones lose their colour after cooking .

IT WILL BE A GREAT HARVEST….

…if these few courgettes, french beans and peas are anything to go by.

I’ve got a number of courgette plants and after last night’s rain they suddenly sprung to life and here we are!

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I grew some garden peas last year and made one big mistake – I didn’t protect them. Of course I didn’t have any as the pigeons were enjoying them too much. This year I sowed all my peas in one of my net cages and the result is here for all to see. They were just too nice to cook them so we just ate them straight out of the pod. I’ve got an idea for next year – I shall grow them again in a cage but this time I shall sow them close to sweetcorn plants and these can be their support. There’s an old method of growing things – ‘three sisters – usually runner beans planted close to sweetcorn and all that underplanted with squashes. Well, the way my squashes grow I wouldn’t be able to walk there so It’ll be just ‘two sisters’.

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And finally, I also harvested my first french beans. I like the climbing ones – much easier to pick!

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MODEST BEGINNINGS

When I first started working on the allotment I had just one half of a plot. I thought that it would be enough. Little did I know that I will have so much land in the end.

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This was the first bit of land – without any structures on it and rather overgrown!

The chairman just mentioned that the person who had the other half of my plot doesn’t want to work it any more and would I like it. I didn’t need any time to think about it because I realised that just a half is nowhere near enough for my plans.007

Every plot needs a shed – mine was made for me by one of the other allotmenters – out of pallets – talk about recycling!

First if was one more half then a bit more and end is that now I have two full plots and three separate halves. I have the luxury now of growing flowers!

I have finished puling the weeds, cutting the path edges, building the structures for growing beans and climbing courgettes and now all I have to do is wait. I even had time to put a huge flowerpot over one rhubarb crown to force it so we can look forward to some very tasty pink rhubarb later on…..

Not easy….

AUTUMN…

…is a very busy time. I think people who don’t garden think that I can just harvest my veg and leave everything shut for the winter.

Not so.

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Thanks to my friend Paul I have a great supply of seasoned willow poles – I just had to build another structure! I have ordered some new climbing beans for next year – both are from Sementi Franchi. One is Fagiolo rampicante bobis a grano nero and the other is Fagiolo rampicante albenghino.  They will grow here because I shall harvest them when the pods are quite dry and keep the shelled beans in jars for the winter, same as I did this year. They make an excellent addition to soups and stews.

You couldn’t have an autumn clear-out without a bonfire. I started burning mine yesterday but that fizzled out too quickly. It was much better today and by the time I went home it was almost all gone. I had to rebuild it to allow more air inside the pile of the branches etc but it certainly worked.

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The weather is supposed to be fine tomorrow so I shall just sort out what’s left and finish digging this plot.

Then it’ll be all done (but I’m sure I’ll find some more jobs on the plot)

SELF-SUFFICIENCY

I would like to have a few things to keep me happy and they would ensure that we could be self-sufficient.

Not in the exact order: a cow, some chickens and a few sheep and I would keep all that in a walled garden. Well, a woman can dream…..

But we’re almost there, even without these special items. Today’s harvest was:

I think the big tomato must be the biggest one I’ve ever managed to grow – 181 g!!

And this is just about the start, there will be many more. I found a way of bottling them in Kilner jars, gently cook them with some sliced garlic and olive oil, then add chopped rosemary and basil. When the jars are filled I sterilise them in water bath for about 5 minutes and that way I shall have a good supply of chopped tomatoes for the winter.

I tried Borlotto beans in the past but always used them young. This time I have let them dry on the vine; I will shell them as they dry and then store them in large jars with some silica sachets to reduce the moisture. Again, a very useful addition to winter soups and stews. They are very attractive when maturing, the pods are bright red before they dry and turn dusty purple.

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NOT ONLY SWEET…

….but also savoury produce comes out of this tiny kitchen. I seem to have a glut of runner beans and you can only eat so many. I like them a lot and have a number of different ways of cooking them but…

I found a recipe for a spiced pickled runner bean chutney and I must say thet it is one of the best! It also works with French beans and after a few months is delicious served with cold meat, cheese and anything you might like to eat with chutney.

Thanks Delia!001