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.

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….