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….

HARVEST TIME…

…is here again. Even though we didn’t have much rain my harvest was great.  I kept picking courgettes all the time, then carrots started. Now tomatoes are something else – I haven’t had a harvest like this yet and all of them are growing outside, in net cages. Amazing. I made passata, tomato soup, bottled chopped tomatoes for the winter, you name it and I made it. Even though beetroot didn’t germinate very well, I am picking some great ones, my Asian pears are delicious.

 

My little greenhouse on the allotment is well worth the money – never had so many cucumbers!

For the first time I managed to grow aubergines – I have a couple of plants in the greenhouse in the back garden and I have fruit on them! For the first time.20180901_192321

One evening on a walk we saw some black grapes hanging over a fence, we picked some and the result is delicious jelly

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The only downside of it all is that I don’t have enough hours in the day. I’m feeling my age too.

The icing on the cake are my figs.

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I bottled them in red wine, ever so tasty!

TOPSOIL

I knew all the lovely topsoil I managed to get from my two ‘forgotten’ composter bins would come handy. It was a bit too wet today to continue with digging so I had to concentrate on maintenance.

First was one path, rather the grass on it, that had to be cut. As it was so high it had to be done with the shears. Ideal job for a chilly morning. There was so much grass it almost filled one composter bin.

Talking of bins – some weeks ago I emptied a couple of them and bagged the contents – beautiful topsoil to be used to top up the raised beds in my lovely greenhouse.

I was late in the season getting the greenhouse but it is all going to be ready for an early start next spring. I know it is wishing my life away but I can’t wait. All my tomato, cucumber and pepper seeds are sorted out and I’m ready……………

 

RESULTS

The weather is helping – sudden spell of warm weather and everything is doing very well. Of course we have to protect things like cabbages against twin attack from pigeons and cabbage white but it is worth it!

The same goes for sweetcorn – protection not against pigeons but squirrels – they cause havoc on the allotment. I decided to try to grow sweetcorn inside my large cabbage cage and it has worked!

I started growing in my new greenhouse a bit late but my cucumber plant managed against the odds…

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…and next year will be great, I can see that now.

Last job yesterday. after harvesting 2 large sacks of potatoes was planting two new strawberry beds. I decided to do it this way, it’ll be easier to throw the net over to protect the crop against the birds.

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The main potatoes are harvested but the late ones, to be ready for Christmas (I hope), are doing very well. I had to earth them up and will be putting the fertiliser on very soon.

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PLANS

After a long deliberation I decided that I would like to get a large polytunnel for the allotment. Found the website, the tunnel looked just perfect – 12ft wide and 20ft long. It would have covered nearly a half of one plot. The idea was I’d ask for it for my big birthday next year – or rather I wouldn’t want any Christmas or birthday presents, just a bit towards it. It was a bit pricey, I must admit. All that would have started next spring and I would have asked/begged a number of people to help to build it.

Obviously it wasn’t the right thing for me  – I still had my doubts, mainly because of the price. All has been sorted out for me.

Reg had a nice little greenhouse on the half of a plot next to mine. Sadly he is no longer with us and his widow didn’t want to keep it – it was clearly meant to be mine. I bought it from her and after clearing it out and adding some manure to the soil we’re up and running.

I’ve got a few tomato plants, some sweet peppers and a cucumber – that should be climbing up along the wire I have arranged for it.

Outside I have two water butts, both have got a working tap and are elevated on support and have a pipe leading from the gutter to fill it.

There was a propagator inside as well so after clearing the ground on the side of the greenhouse I moved it there – a perfect fit.

I think I will line it with bubble wrap for the winter so we can have lettuce and tomatoes and cucumbers till later in the autumn.

 

 

 

 

 

MULTICOLOURED VEGETABLES

I grow a variety of beans, either dwarf  or climbing beans but the only ones I don’t grow are runner beans. Somehow I find the flavour of the others is much better and also when slicing runner beans I found that it irritated my hands.

The blue ones don’t keep their colour when cooked, they turn dark green but the yellow beans look just about the same when cooked. Blue climbing beans are Blauhilde and the yellow are Golden Gate. In my opinion they are much tastier than runner beans.

My french beans are both dwarf and climbing, very prolific and very tasty.

Another splash of colour comes from the greenhouse this time – tomato Tigrella, cucumber Marketmore and lettuce Salad bowl.