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.
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.
I’ve decided to take a chance and plant four of my cucumber plants into the polytunnel. It is quite warm inside even though I don’t close the door (well, I can’t, the zip is broken but it is not worth doing anything about it, the tunnel is rather old)
I’ve also planted some lettuce seedlings there a little while ago and they seem to thrive so I’ve got high hopes for the cucumbers. The plan is that they will climb, each is planted beside a pole and as they grow I’ll help them along by tying them to it.
I wasn’t quite sure if my winter lettuce would actually survive the winter. I planted the seedlings in the autumn, variety All year round. Some were in one of the net tunnels and some in the open ground. This was the first time I tried this and it seems to have worked.
They grew until it got cold and then stopped. I thought they might just wither and perish, but they just sat there and this is what they look like now.
I’ve got hight hopes that with the weather improving they might grow a bit more and we shall have some early lettuce.
Of course, there are lettuce seeds in a seed tray in the greenhouse, hopefully they’ll sprout soon and will then be transplanted on the ‘farm’ and in the bottom bed in the greenhouse.
You can’t have too much lettuce – I grow a mix so we shall have the ‘cut and come again’ type and the Iceberg type too.