14. MAY

Yesterday and today were two wonderful sunny days, even though it took a bit longer yesterday for the sun to come from behind the clouds. But when it did it more than made up for lost time. Nowadays it is full speed ahead with planting. It was mainly tomatoes yesterday and while I was doing that I could see where else I had some space for other things. Next job was weeding – the garlic beds. It is wonderful what a drop of rain and some heat can do. Weeding is a job where I don’t have to think about it, my mind can wonder and plan other things.

I have four garlic beds and if they all do well we should have enough to last us in the winter.

The strawberries are flowering well and some of the fruit is turning pink. I will have to put some nets over before the birds discover them.

I will have to renew some of the plants, I’ve had them a few years now and they are beginning to show their age.

The last job yesterday was in the long greenhouse, I transplanted some of the iceberg lettuce seedling and finished organising the pots with my tomatoes. I don’t think I’ve ever had so many tomato plants but we like tomatoes and I bottle them in all different forms. I have used the last jar of pasta sauce only recently.

When I came home yesterday I was just too tired to write so I’m catching up today.

One more new piece of equipment on the plot, Wayne sorted out another water but for me so my long greenhouse catches water at each end.

Today was a day for planting out brassicas, cabbages, purple sprouting broccoli and black kale. The cabbages are in my new net tunnel and I’m sure they’ll do well there.

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The other one will have carrots and beetroot so it’ll be easier for next year, I will just swap what I grow in them.

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The rest of kale and purple sprouting broccoli is in the large net cage where I have my peas. I have got a little bit of room there and I’ll finish planting tomorrow.

The whole site is looking good, we are all growing different types of vegetables and as usual will exchange them later.

8. JANUARY

My New year started well. The weather is reasonably kind to  me and I have been going to the allotment as often as I can. I knew I had a few  jobs that needed doing – finishing the weeding in the fruit cage and tackling the raspberry patch.  This is another job that keeps coming up, never mind how often I do it during the year. To start with I had to cut down all the old canes that bore fruit. This is quite easy, it is clear which ones these are. That done it showed even more all the weeds. I was hoping to do the weeding during one session but that was too hopeful. I finished the job today and I’ll wait and see  how quickly the weeds will start growing. I’m  not cutting corners, all weeds are pulled up. roots and all.

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I also planted the first part of my elephant garlic in the ground, it was growing in a grow box in my garden. I needed to empty the box because I have a plan how to use it better.

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There will  be more to come.

My friend who is a tree surgeon and does  garden clearances asked me if I wanted a greenhouse. Of course I said yes. He said that  he and his men will put it up on my plot. I’ve never seen a greenhouse assembled this fast. He told me that they very carefully dismantled it, saved all the clips, springs and glass so they just reversed the process. They will  need to replace a few panes of glass, it gets rather brittle with age. It is not just an ordinary greenhouse, there are two bolted together.

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I even have two benches inside. This is where the grow  boxes come in, I will have them in the back greenhouse and in the front one I’ll put large flowerpots. I still  have a number of them from the cannabis farm some years ago. Also the position of the greenhouse is such that I’ll be able to stand a line of the large pots outside, it is a perfect sun trap and tomatoes will thrive there.

Waste not want not.

31. OCTOBER

The work continues. Yesterday I managed to uproot most of the tall sunflowers and left them for the next day.  That day was today. Yet another very mild day, ideal for some hoeing – I don’t dig as a rule and it seems to work. I wanted to clear the whole patch where I had the elephant garlic and sweetcorn. Half of it was done so I wanted to finish it. The soil is so beautifully crumbly, full of worms and I even found about six more elephant garlic plants. These I planted into a small bed, ready with some so these have just filled it.

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I have got quite a lot of elephant garlic plants growing in a large grow bed in the greenhouse at home and I will plant them out in the spring.

The main part of the work today was quite easy in the end so I’m getting the plot sorted out slowly but surely.

24.SEPTEMBER

It is difficult to believe that we are entering autumn, even though the evenings are getting darker every day. All my harvesting is slowing down, I gathered another box of tomatoes and a few cucumbers but all this will be coming to an end very soon.

I started preparing the ground for planting garlic after watching Monty Don last night. He gave me a great idea and as soon as I got to the allotment I started working on it. I have got four large raised beds and I’ve been growing strawberries there for a number of years. A couple of these beds aren’t producing good enough fruit so they will be emptied, the ground enriched, all in time for planting. Garlic is on order from one seed company but I will try to get some more on Tuesday when I go to town, the stall in the market might have some.

12. FEBRUARY

Every now and then I feel that my efforts to keep the site reasonably weed free are like painting the Forth bridge (but even that doesn’t need painting over and over again, they have got some special paint that lasts longer). It was the turn of my largest soft fruit cage – I have lost count how many time I did that and the weeds keep coming back.

I didn’t stay much longer after that and after lunch at home it was time for some greenhouse work. I have some garlic growing in there in one of my grow beds already and now I have added some shallots and onion setts in small cell trays. It works with the garlic – I’m hedging my bets as I have some garlic growing on the allotment already.

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I haven’t tried it with the onions or shallots yet, it will be interesting.

A NEW START

Yesterday was an unseasonably warm day. I had to remind myself what date it was, it felt like a good day in early spring. It is too wet to do any serious work on the allotment, but saying that, all my serious work is done. The greenhouses are ready for the next growing season and as I have four of them I can spoil myself. I have decided to grow quite a lot of tomatoes, less of aubergines and a good mix of sweet peppers and chillies.

I have a good reason to grow more tomatoes, we are still using my bottled tomato soup and also chopped roasted tomatoes.

The chillies did very well and I have managed to dehydrate them, ready to be used in future recipes.

Yesterday was dedicated to work in my big greenhouse in the back garden. I have got four large grow beds there and I was able to single out and plant all my leek seedlings, also the onion seedlings. I have started those in late November. It seems to work, they are looking good.

I have also planted some garlic cloves, to make sure I have got enough to harvest later. I have garlic already growing on the allotment but you can’t have enough!

That was exactly my thought about onions and leeks so I started two more seed trays with leeks and onions. The plan is to grow quite a lot of vegetables that we like.

BROWN GOLD

Today was the turn of the composter bins. I have got five of them at the end of one of my plots and I’m filling them in turn. It always amazes me how quickly they rot down. Some of them were easier to empty and one yielded an amazing amount of this dark brown crumbly soil. I emptied one after another and using my wheelbarrow transferred it all to my other fruit trees and bushes.

There was only one more thing to do – planting my elephant garlic. I didn’t have much more strength anyway.20211108_125221

NO DIG

I have always resisted the gardening gurus’ encouragement to stop digging. My argument was that I have to clear the ground of all the weeds, there was no point in leaving the ground as it was after harvesting whatever I grew there. This year is different. I have harvested my potatoes and to my surprise the ground was almost weed free. All I had to do was to level it with my favourite tool – the azada, it has got a blade on one side and a claw on the other – and the job was done. Then I scattered a mix of chicken poo pellets and fish, blood and bone fertiliser and I’m ready to plant my garlic there. I will use my own garlic, I had a very good harvest so I can spare some.

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TOMATOES

I can’t imagine not growing tomatoes, I grow them every year and I have done so even before I had the allotment. I’m lucky to have a super greenhouse in my back garden – I treated myself for my birthday one year and got the best I could afford. It is a lovely Rhino greenhouse, I had a guy to put it up. He had all the necessary tools and it was amazing to watch. He made it look so easy.

It was in this greenhouse that I harvested the huge tomatoes today. I try to grow different ones each year, these ones are new to me – Cherokee purple. They are lovely to look at and great to taste. To grow them I fill the pots or the grow beds with a special compost I have, I get it from Dalefoot, their compost is totally peat free and they have a special tomato compost. The tomatoes just love it and I’m delighted with the results.

The biggest one was 571 g, quite a monster. I chopped them all up and roasted in the oven with some  olive oil and a few cloves of garlic. Afterwards I just blitzed it with a hand-held stick blender and seasoned the soup. Quite delicious, nothing but fresh home grown organic ingredients. There will be more soup as there are more tomatoes in the greenhouse on the allotment.

THINNINGS

The June drop has been and gone and I have decided to thin out apples, not only on my trees but on my friend’s trees too.

They will boil down to a mush and then I will put them in a muslin bag and let it all drip during the night. It will make a very tasty jelly – perhaps with chilli or garlic or some herbs. Watch this space!