9. SEPTEMBER

We are certainly entering autumn and I am harvesting every time I go to the allotment. Certain vegetables I am still picking even though I thought that was the end, like tomatoes, cucumbers and courgettes. Peppers have started later but keep going very strong now. My sweetcorn is the best I have ever grown and I must make sure I grow it again next year. This is what I like about the allotment, it shows me what does well, we find out what we like to eat and when I put the two together I have a plan for next year.

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The fruit trees are maturing and I can see the results. The apples are plentiful and really delicious and I’m sure they taste much better than the ones we buy in the shop.apples

These are a mix of James Grieve and Charles Ross. I have got a few more apple trees there but the apples will be a bit later, perhaps October.

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

19. JULY

I went to the allotment quite early yesterday morning, I knew we were going to have a very hot day. Picked a couple of courgettes, some lovely pale peppers, cucumbers and another huge bag of tomatoes.

This time I used my tomatoes to cook the pasta sauce – chopped them, sliced the courgettes and the peppers, put into a large saucepan where I first gently cooked some chopped onions and then slowly cooked it all. Only added a small amount of water. This sauce has got some of my basil leaves in, the flavour is lovely. I have six more jars ready for the winter.

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17. JULY

After a break of a few days I have decided to put down some more facts about the farm. As I mentioned before I have three plots and they contain my little shed and four greenhouses. There are also a few net cages of different sizes, all full of plants. We have to cover all our crops that pigeons might like to nibble. An easier way to do that is to grow these crops inside the net cages, much easier to harvest, weed and water. If there is a bit of space left in the cage I usually plant a few tomato plants there, they always survive and do very well. My main harvest of red tomatoes is from the greenhouses, that is no surprise but the outside ones ripen eventually.

As usual I’m growing courgettes this year but not on such great scale as before. I have found out the hard way that courgettes produce a lot of fruit – one plant can keep a family in fruit. This year I have grown yellow bush courgettes and yesterday was the first time I was able to pick some.

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I remembered that last year I made lots of courgette and tomato sauce to use with pasta. I decided to do that again, with some onions, garlic and basil. I didn’t use my tomatoes but used some tinned passata as I wanted to use it all up while it is in – date.

Because I had another good harvest of tomatoes I roasted them just with olive oil and a few sprigs of rosemary and bottled. 

The courgettes gave me four Kilner jars of the sauce and there was enough left to have it on our pasta for lunch.

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I’m lucky to have a space in the loft to store all my empty jars, be it Kilners or just jars for jam so for now I can continue. Another problem is storage space for the produce – cupboards are filling up. But I think that is not a problem, at least we shall have something wholesome to use during the winter.

23. MAY

Work goes on on the allotment, everything is thriving. I have been moving the seedlings from my big greenhouse in the back garden and planting them where I could find some space. Yesterday I have cleared the weeds from my little orchard in front of the shed – yet again! It feels like painting the Forth bridge – I finish the job and could start all over again. I had just enough space to plant my butternut squash seedlings between the trees, also some pale green courgettes and bush courgettes beside my latest apple tree. Saturday morning myself and Dave went to Bedworth to get some more horse muck – you can’t have enough of this stuff – so I was able to put it in every hole I got ready, it is perfectly well rotted down.

I was leaving my plot when I noticed a swarm of bees hanging on my little apple tree. We’ve had a number of them recently and I’m always amazed how beautiful it looks. The bees were just sitting there, all I heard was a quiet humming noise. 

I phoned Wayne but didn’t wait for him, he can get to our site through his little gate and pick them up.

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.

ON THE MOVE

I started my seedlings in the propagator in the back bedroom, then moved them to the greenhouse in the back garden and now moved them again, this time to one of the greenhouses on the allotment.

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.

 

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.