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.

HARVEST TIME

It is rather busy now, everything seems to be ready almost at the same time. I wasn’t sure how well will my tomatoes or courgettes would do but I didn’t have to worry. All is doing very well and I started making jams, chutneys, soups… you name it and I make it.

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and this is the result – tasty chutney

Not only courgettes but beetroot, tomatoes, potatoes and all the soft fruit – the allotment is giving and continues to give.

Happy days!

30. DECEMBER

Today is the last Sunday of the year and the weather was very mild, almost like in the spring. I keep working on the allotment as long as the weather allows me. I have been lucky, the soil on out site drains very well so I can get on with my winter digging.

This is a part of my friend’s plot – he had a lot to organise at home and I offered to do some of his digging. Iust love digging!

Next job was to finish tidying the permanent courgette and squash structures. There were not too many weeds – surprise! – and I put a layer of the wood chip on the paths between them, that way I can walk there even on a wet day.

Just as I was finishing this my friend Dave came and told me that we are going to be putting together my greenhouse. He told me he’ll help when I first got it. I have been looking for another greenhouse for quite a while – one is just not enough as I’d like to have a go at growing water melons and more aubergines. There were moments when I thought that I made a mistake, all I saw was an organised pile of glass panes and the dismantled skeleton. It is nice to know somebody who knows exactly what to do with all this….

All I have to do now is to give it a good scrub – it has been lying there for a number of weeks, get some more clips to fix the panes of glass and build a couple of raised beds inside.

Watch this space.

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….

DIGGING

It is the time of year again – putting the allotment to bed.

It is certainly worth doing the autumn dig slowly, without anything else other than a spade. This plot was unloved and in a terrible state a couple of years ago but as I finished the dig today I’m happy. There is only a small strip of land to dig – after I’ve burned the pile of old raspberry canes etc. I’ll dig the ashes in and the job will be done. Of course I’ve pulled out bindweed roots and some weeds, those will be there for some time yet but the soil is crumbly and full of worms. The potatoes did well so next year it’ll be the turn of pumpkins and courgettes there.

ALL GO…

on the farm and in the kitchen.

Even though the weather wasn’t at all nice – where has the summer gone??- I managed to get to the farm and do some work. The weeds are doing very well so that is an ongoing task. The courgettes started producing, so did the climbing beans, so I thought:  we shall have our first concoction – my own recipe this time – just throw it all together, add some spices, perhaps coconut milk and see what comes out!

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I’ve got a couple of apple trees there and both have given me lovely fruit in the past. I know about thinning the fruit on the branches and also about the June drop so I waited and yesterday picked all the little apples that fell off and at the same time thinned out the ones remaining. Managed to get quite a few.

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Cut them up, boiled them and put in a muslin bag to drip overnight. One litre of liquid, just right to make some delicious herb jelly. I use a recipe from my favourite book by Linda Brown – The Preserving Book and just use different herbs. Works every time.

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The result are four jars of delicious sage jelly, perfect to serve with cheese or cold meat….

Waste not want not!

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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