STARTING AGAIN

Here we go again, another start of a new gardening year. I cleaned my greenhouse in the back garden and started three seed trays with onions and leeks. I didn’t do at all well with leeks last year and was determined to have another go. I’ve got Leek Mammoth seeds and have high hopes for them.

It is an unheated greenhouse but a very good one – a Rhino greenhouse – so the seeds should do well. We’ll see.

WEEDING

It is well and good to have the rain and heat, everything grows but certain plants grow better than other – like weeds.

It feels like painting the Forth bridge but even they don’t have to do this any more ! I, on the other hand, have to carry on with the weeding. I have finished the onion and garlic beds today – I wonder how long they’ll stay like this.

From this

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to this

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Only time will tell.

THE FIRST OF MANY

I started the new year as I mean to continue – on the allotment. We managed to take one more load of slab pieces to the allotment and that was enough to make a path in the middle of my large cabbage net cage.

The afternoon was devoted to sowing some seeds in trays. Leeks, onions Ails Craig and white onions, the seeds I bought when I was in Malta. I saw them there in the shops and was very happy when I found the seeds.

I use seed trays that I bought a number of years ago from Harrod Horticultural company. It was money well spent, I’m still using them and with care they’ll last many more years.

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They have one big advantage – even if I would miss out a few days, the seedling will be fine as the whole thing sits on top of matting and takes up water via the felt matting suspended in the bottom tray with water. I just have to make sure the tray is regularly topped up.

STILL GOING STRONG

I went away for almost two weeks and thought that I would find a bit of wilderness on the farm. Not so, everything survived well. My very good friend Irene watered the plants in the greenhouse and thanks to that I had a lovely crop of delicious tomatoes.

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That was a nice surprise because I started growing in the greenhouse rather late. I think these might be Gardener’s delight – I found the plant growing on a path! Gave it a good home and this is my reward.

I had the usual stalwarts – carrots and parsnips, also a very nice cabbage. Long may it continue.

 

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As usual, whenever I go away, I looked to buy some different seeds. I was in luck this time. Found a new seed company and managed to get some seeds – white onion. Not the little pearl onions as I know but full-size ones. I tasted them whilst away and they are very nice, mild and sweet. We shall see how I get on.

CHARTERHOUSE ALLOTMENTS…

…are improving. Amazing what a sunny day and a few willing gardeners can achieve.

Today was that day. Reg, who is not at all well but just keeps going somehow, had a helper – his grandson Carl. Hat off to Carl, he worked really hard and then Simon very kindly rotavated the plot and I can’t believe my eyes.

I was helping Simon with planting his onion sets and he rotavated a part of my plot. It was dug over but became very hard and lumpy. It is not any more!

The atmosphere on our site is very good, people talk, exchange ideas and seeds etc – by the way, thanks Simon for the onion sets, we shall never suffer shortage of onions! Or potatoes. Or anything else.

Happy gardening and may the sun shine on us.

SECOND HALF OF MAY

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.

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TLC

…and a lot of hard work was the order of the day on the allotment today.

There was a plot on our site that nobody worked on. I thought that somebody wanted it and was going to start working there. I was wrong. It happens from time to time that people think they would like to have an allotment but when it comes to actually working on the plot, the reality hits them – it is quite a lot of work. This particular plot wasn’t overgrown with weeds – I know because it was mine last year. When I harvested the potatoes I dug it all over so it was in good order.

All the same, this person didn’t return so rather than to leave it neglected, I took it back and it is all ready and just waiting for good weather.

I had to clear some big drums , some were full of sand – this belonged to the chap before me who was into growing exhibition parsnips. Anyway, all the drums are gone, the sand neatly heaped to one side and the new space ready.

Because there was quite a bit of sand mixed with the soil I took an advantage of it and made it into a parsnip patch. We’ll see.

Next on the list was finishing planting some garlic – I had some tiny cloves, put them into grow cells, they rooted so now was the time to put them out, join the overwintered ones.

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Onion sets and shallots received the same treatment. The shallots were well rooted in the cells so they’ll have a head start. Then I planted some red onion sets but even though I thought I had enough I shall have to get some more. Work will continue…

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Last but not least was some work in my greenhouse when I got back home. I wanted to have some very early potatoes, decided on the variety. They’ve chitted well so they went into pots and will be kept in the greenhouse for now.

Then it was the small task of looking if all the seed trays are well watered and that’s that for today. Tomorrow is another day….010

FROM THIS….

…to all these goodies.

The courgettes are growing at a rate of knots! I went yesterday to pick some for my brother-in-law and for our evening salad, thought I got all the big ones but the reality was something else…

001I thought I’d better pick all the big ones and some small yellow ones and then the next question was – what to make?

No problem, I have got my favourite Courgette chutney recipe, I make it every year and it never lets me down.

006Even after making 5 large jars of this chutney I still had plenty left. I made my other favourite – a kind of stew. There is no recipe to follow, I just chop the courgettes, start with onion and garlic and some oil in a big pot, sweat it for a while, add all the courgettes and a carton of chopped tomatoes and some spice – it is always different because I change the spice mix. Bring to boil, turn down and simmer till the courgettes are soft, then eat one part and freeze the rest for later.

007I put it in 500g oblong dishes, fast freeze and take out of the dish, put in a plastic bag and put in the freezer.

My freezers are quite well organised, one has mainly frozen fruit, the other veg and the last one a mix of bought things and an overflow from the other freezers.

The result is that I don’t have to buy any frozen vegetables, it is all there from my allotment.

FRUIT

The soft fruit on the allotment is well organised and ready for the spring.

Raspberries have been planted on a separate plot, in double rows and the paths between the rows lined with a membrane to (try) to stop the weeds from invading. It has been great, I had hardly any weeds there! The canes are contained in the rows by some wire and that is holding them back, all this makes picking them much easier.

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Rhubarb crowns are resting , if next year’s harvest is as good as this one was I’ll be happy. There are three young fruit trees beside the rhubarb – a plum, a pear and a cooking apple. All had some fruit this year so I’m hoping for much more next year.

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A large part of one plot is taken by a fruit cage, this is a must on our site as we have a large number of pigeons and they would strip the fruit off before we know it is there. I found out the hard way during my first year there – I had a red currant bush in the middle of one plot, an obviously mature one and very soon I started noticing some currants, they were just turning pink. Next day – nothing! That drove me to getting the fruit cage and moving all fruit bushes there – red, white and black currants, gooseberries, fourberries and blueberries. It was worth the effort, the harvest was great this year. All the fruit is either frozen, eaten fresh or made into jams.

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Last but not least are the strawberries. It is quite amazing how much can be harvested from jus three beds. When I first started gardening on my plot I was given enough plants to make one bed – the original plants multiplied and this summer I had 30 kg of sweet juicy strawberries. Delicious!

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ONION SEEDLINGS

As I found out about growing onions from seed, it is important to start early and then patiently keep re-potting the seedlings. It is supposed to strengthen the root growth and that will help as I eventually plant them out later in the year in the prepared open ground.IMG_4120

The seeds were sown in some standard potting compost and kept on a windowsill in my kitchen. they soon came through and I decided to single them out into small modules. My greenhouse in unheated but lined with bubble plastic so I’m hoping they’ll be ok there. I’ve covered them with a clear lid and watered sufficiently so all that remains now is to wait and perhaps be ready to come to their rescue if the weather turns too nasty even for my greenhouse.

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