Amazingly we have a sunny Bank Holiday and I’m making the most of it. I am doing my best to finish all my weeding and any other heavy work because I’m due to have an operation on my back to remove a cancerous growth so after that I will have to take it easy. I weeded one more net tunnel where I have my currant bushes and then worked in the newest greenhouse. I’m so pleased to have it, it would have been a shame not to rescue it – thank you Wayne.
I have two benches in there, they both hold 12 large pots with tomato plants and in the soil on the floor I have a mix of lettuce, radishes and more tomato plants.
As I was transplanting the lettuce seedlings I found many more little tomato plants, it must’ve been the seeds in the compost from my composter bins. I’ll keep as many as I can. Of course I have no idea what type of tomato they’ll be but all the better for it, it’ll be a pleasant surprise.
I had a look at my apple trees and I think the harvest will be good. Of course we shall have ‘June drop’ but I think I might have to thin them out as well, just to be sure to get some nice sized apples.
The last job was to check the strawberries and they are doing well too.
I think all this is thanks to Wayne’s bees. He has got four hives on our site and they have been very busy. The bees are amazing – only a few days ago they swarmed but didn’t go too far, they settled in Wayne’s apple tree in their garden and built this fantastic structure
Incredible, I’ve never seen anything like it.
Yesterday and today I was working in the greenhouses on the allotment. I decided to use the grow rings and when I didn’t have enough of them I used the large black pots that I had from the old canabis factory that got raided a few years ago. At that time I had close to a hundred of these pots so it didn’t matter now to cut the bottoms off so I could sink them into the beds in the greenhouse.
Another lesson from last year – less is more. Having the grow rings and pots in the greenhouses forces me to space my plants and don’t plant any more. I know from last year they grow tall and bushy and very soon the greenhouse resembles a jungle. Having this set up stops that. In case I thought I was wasting good growing space I sowed some radishes, onions, parsley, basil and lettuce in the free soil. All these plants will be short, will mature quickly and get harvested well before I can pick any of the tomatoes or peppers.
The seedlings in my large greenhouse at home are all doing well, just as I thought when I decided to sow all the seeds again. Never mind, I shall have plenty of tomato and pepper plants to try to find a home for. Some of the tomatoes can actually survive outside in a sheltered spot, I did that during the last few years and they were fine.
Both peas and carlin peas are growing well and I have two wigwams ready for them in the large net cage. I have to do that, our pigeons on the allotment would strip them completely.
The weather forecasters have got it slightly wrong for our area, the map showed the belt of showers further up north. It started drizzling here after breakfast and continued till the early afternoon. Around three in the afternoon it stopped so I put on my waterproof jacket and went to the allotment. I didn’t want to do a lot, just to see how things were there and perhaps pick some raspberries and currants. I managed to do all that and got home dry. I wanted to try another recipe using fruit from my farm and thanks to my friend in Allotment Haven I have got just the thing. My blackcurrants aren’t ready as yet so I used red and white currants. The resulting cake smells delicious and looks great. Frank will be the judge of it tomorrow.
Yesterday was another busy day on the farm and in the end I was just too tired to write it all up. I did a lot of weeding in the orchard – again! and picked over two kilo of raspberries so of course I just had to make more jam. It would be a shame not to, this jam is so tasty. The tomatoes in the greenhouse are doing very well, I have removed the bottom leaves so there is a flow of air around them and they are in full sun.
Everything is growing well, the lettuce in one of the greenhouses is amazing, really big and very tasty.
I have used it to make a big green salad – I throw everything and anything in – chopped hard boiled eggs, Feta cheese, olives, capers and then just stir in my dressing made with olive oil, wholegrain mustard, balsamic vinegar and a little drizzle of honey.
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.
After the gales and downpours of the past few weeks it was quite pleasant today working in the sunshine. Blue skies and a gentle breeze, it was a welcome change. Fortunately I have done all my digging already so I could concentrate on maintenance. I managed to finish edging one path, ready for some more wood chip and then started clearing my large patch of raspberries, cutting them down. I usually do it in the autumn but I was too busy last year so left it for now. It will be interesting how they will fruit.
I picked my first rhubarb, not the forced one but the very early one – must be the earliest yet.
To finish the activities I planted quite a number of lettuce seedlings – iceberg type – in the greenhouses. They should be fine, it feels nice and warm inside. It’ll be nice to have a fresh crunchy lettuce again.
Another day of work tomorrow, must finish the raspberries and then I will need lots of patience to wait with sowing some more seeds.
…is here and it is rather chilly. All the same, work on the allotment is going on – building raised beds inside one of my net cages. I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time, got a nice lot of timber from the friendly builders next door and it took a few trips with my wheelbarrow to take it to the allotment.
The tomato plants were outside already so this wasn’t too much of a shock for them as they got planted here. I used some old flower pots, cut off the bottom and embedded them in the compost, that way the tomato plants will have more depth for their roots. In the empty spaces will be lettuce Webs wonderful.
The same goes for my sunflowers – they stood in one of the net cages for a week or so ; they’ll be fine planted here as they have a bit of protection from the greenhouse.
Last but not least – I covered four of my strawberry beds, they are flowering very well and some small strawberries are already there. I just don’t want to share them with the birds.
The mason bees are doing what they are supposed to do, it is wonderful to see that.
I was beginning to think that nothing will grow and the weather will stay miserable like this for ever.
All seems to be getting better. Even though the day started with a steady rain, the late afternoon improved and I was finally able to go down the farm early in the evening. The clock going forward one hour is, after all, good for something.
I couldn’t do anything there, the ground is very wet. The lettuce needed watering in the greenhouse, they are doing well. After I finished that I did walked around, just to see how things are getting on. And they are!
I did some pruning during the last months of the winter and it shows. I think we might have some fruit this year – if we don’t get any late frost, of course. My two pear trees and the plum responded very well.
The gooseberries are doing well and the rhubarb surprised me, only a couple of weeks I couldn’t see anything.
I was looking at my seed collection and grew more and more frustrated. It is all fine to see that parsnips could be sown from February onwards. Well, that would have been rather difficult as the weather was against me.
Never mind, yesterday was a lovely sunny day so I made sure the piece of ground where the parsnips are going to grow is weed – free (quite a challenge, they seem to grow at the rate of knots!) and covered it with a piece of horticultural fleece. I’m sure it will worm the soil and I shall be able to sow one of my favourite vegetables.
That done I turned my attention to the greenhouse. There are raised beds on both sides and a small one at the back. I added some more soil from my composter bins and now they are ready. Fortunately I have a large plastic cloche to cover one of the beds so I planted some lettuce seedlings there. That way we can have some early Icebergs.
Last but not least I prepared another small raised bed that is beside the greenhouse, put a bag of old horse muck in and covered it with a thick layer of good soil, this is now ready for one pumpkin. I have high hopes for my latest acquisition, seeds from a Maltese pumpkin. I’ve seen them in Malta, now the challenge is to grow them as big as they were there.
In the past few years I had four raised beds with strawberries but one in particular is getting a bit old, they didn’t produce very much fruit. I have decided to dig them out, used some of the best runners to fill gaps in other strawberry beds and this one is now ready to be planted with broad beans. I have started them in the greenhouse in the back garden. They will be sheltered in this bed, I can plant them there a bit earlier.
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.
Another end of February, another start of growing! I’m getting a bit better because in the past I started sowing seeds much too early, and too many of them at once. Never too late to learn.
First of all I had to sort out the greenhouse. It is an unheated one so plants hibernate there quite nicely. My kafir lime liked it and looks rather well. I had a good harvest of yacon tubers, also of the growing little tubers, they were put into pts and kept almost dry in the greenhouse. By the looks of it they survived well. I moved them out into the veranda so that they can get used to colder weather.
Now I know they do well on the allotment, they’ll go there again this year and I hope for another good harvest.
After this it was down to the real job in the greenhouse, sowinh some seeds.
I did a tray with some Red iceberg lettuce, Lakeland lettuce and some chinese leaves. The next tray is a selection of different tomatoes. I’m growing outdoor varieties because they’ll go in some of my net cages. I found that it seems to protect them from blight and as the net is very fine it feels a bit warmer inside too.
Last but not least I sorted out my strawberries. I’m hoping that they will flower earlier and we shall have some tasty early fruit. If not, nothing is lost, I shall plant them on the allotment and grow something else in the box.