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.

29. AUGUST

It has been so amazingly dry these last few weeks that I’m quite surprised anything is growing on the allotment. Fortunately I have my greenhouses and that keeps the tomatoes and peppers happy. I haven’t had so many tomatoes and peppers in all the years I’ve been working there.Thinking of the current situation it is quite lucky that I’ve had such a super harvest, I was able to bottle a lot of the produce – oven roasted mixed vegetables or just tomatoes, cooked blackberry and apples for future crumbles and the list goes on. I’m especially pleased with the oven roasted mixed vegetables, I just add a glug of olive oil, no water so the flavours are really concentrated.

The cucumber in the greenhouses did very well. I have planted two plants and they have climbed up and along a wire the entire length of the greenhouse, producing a lot of fruit. I had so much that I was able to make cucumber relish for the very first time and it was very tasty.

My friend Mary and her son Wayne have got a few beehives on their plot and today was the day to harvest their honey. I’ve never seen it done and was amazed how very laborious it is. 

I’m sure it is thanks to the bees that our fruit harvest is so good. It is not only the fruit that benefited from the bees, my sunflowers did very well too. My tallest one was 915cm and today I brought home two of the biggest heads to save them for Chris for next year’s competition.

Both are 25cm in diameter so we should have enough seeds for everybody.

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

OCTOBER 3RD

I thought that my tomatoes and cucumbers in the greenhouses on the allotment have finished. Not so. After a rainy day I finally managed to go down the ‘farm’ and see if we suffered any damage. I’m delighted to say that the only casualty was a multi-headed sunflower, only because the squirrel wanted to nibble the seeds and the whole thing just came crushing to the floor. No problem there, I have saved the biggest face and took it home before the squirrel found it. I harvested a good number of perfect cucumbers and there will be many more.

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For the first time I managed to grow basil in the greenhouse. Before now I was carefully sowing the seeds in small pots and then hoping to transplant them and it never worked. This time I simply scattered the seeds in the grow bed and a lot germinated. I harvested so much basil I was able to make a lot of pesto. I’m freezing portions of it ready to serve with some tasty pasta.

 

The squashes are ready to harvest too, these are my ‘mashed potato’ squashes. I never grew them before but I will again next year. The reason for the name is simple – you cut them in half, scoop out the seeds and roast them in the oven cut side up. When cooked, the flesh is scooped out and it is like a mashed potato, with only a fraction of the calories of spuds.

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29. OCTOBER

I had a number of cucumber plants in each of my greenhouses. All but one finished producing fruit but one plant in the greenhouse on the allotment suddenly started growing and flowering. I made sure I kept just one fruit and it grew surprisingly well. Today was the day to cut it, as I want to clear out the beds in that greenhouse, put fresh compost there and be ready for next year.

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CUCUMBERS

As all my other seeds the cucumbers germinated well in the spring and I had so many plants I had to give some away. But I planted two of them in the greenhouse in the back garden, just two and the harvest so far is amazing. They are the cucumber Perfect – I must remember them for next year, well worth growing. I train them up and then they can run along a string from one end of the greenhouse to the other so any future cucumbers can just hang down.

The biggest one escaped my notice, it was hanging down at the back. I started eating it yesterday, lovely taste and no bitterness. I like eating my cucumbers with the skin on and these are just perfect for it.

I have got more cucumbers in the greenhouses on the allotment, they are just a bit slower, they were planted there later.

JOB DONE

I  was hoping to finish clearing the polytunnel today and I think the job is just about done.

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The only job left for tomorrow will be to pull out the remaining roots, fork it all over again, spread some horse manure on it and wait for the cucumber seedlings to get a bit bigger before I can plant them there.

8.APRIL

It was a beautiful day today, just like a summer’s day so I decided to make a day of it. I made myself a flask of coffee, took a couple of slices of the bread I made yesterday, bottle of water and a banana and went to the allotment. I wanted to do a lot there and I think I managed. I finished sowing parsnips and carrots and also planted four rows of second early potatoes.

All this took quite a while, the ground was really dry and hard. I never thought I would be wishing for rain.

After a short break I continued with parsnip sowing – we shall have six lines of them. This year I took my time and sowed the seeds very slowly, fairly thinly so I wouldn’t need to thin the seedlings out. It worked and I made one packet of seeds go rather far. Then I did three more rows of carrots so all in all we shall have plenty of vegetables.

As the last job in the afternoon I decided to tackle the newly erected polytunnel.

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This was the sight that opened before me. Not very encouraging but everything is manageable.

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This is the better look, after turning the lawn-like surface over. The plan is to get to it tomorrow and clean out all the roots and clumps of grass, then spread a couple of sacks of horse muck, dig it in and wait for the right time to plant some cucumbers there.

RESCUED POLYTUNNEL

A couple of years we had a new guy on the allotment, young-ish, with a lovely wife and two children. We were pleased because our little community needed more people. He started well, clearing his plot and then one day he got a polytunnel. Quite a large one, 14 ft long, with a number of net windows on each side. He even got a group of his friends to put it up for him – he was standing and giving orders, they worked like Trojans! Next we knew he took the plastic cover off and just flung it into the tree at the end of his plot. He didn’t actually grow anything in it. And that was the last any of us saw of him.

Forward a few months – the above mentioned plastic cover was now scrunched up inside the metal structure, it was in the way of another guy’s work, as the wind blew it in his land. I decided to take matter into my hands, straightened it up, placed the zip entrance in the correct position and started pulling it over the frame. Of course, I chose a breezy day, I was in danger of being lifted up, cover and all. But after a few attempts I managed. I dug a little trench all around and buried the bottom of the cover, compressed it and even hammered in a few large pegs at intervals for extra security. It will be ideal for growing cucumbers.

That done I started planting the seedlings I brought from home. First of all some lettuce and broad beans, in one of my net tunnels. I did sow broad beans as usual in the autumn, they grew well and all of a sudden something ate them. Never mind, they can be started in the spring too.

Next came carlin peas. I started growing them a few years ago, not for eating fresh but for drying them – they are excellent in soups and stews. They are planted in my biggest net cage, all along the sides as they like to climb up. That way it will keep them protected from birds and they will cling to the net. I did it this way last year and it worked very well.

THERE’S MORE

During my daily visit I managed to pick some more tomatoes, some cucumbers and put more lids and suchlike under the growing pumpkins and squashes. Needless to say I had to keep up with the weeds – if everything grew as well as the weeds….

I’m delighted with the cucumbers, they are very tasty and it looks the plant will keep on producing. The long shiny peppers will turn red eventually, they are the long sweet variety. Another first for me in the greenhouse. I must be doing something right….