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.

CONTINUATION

I started working on this plot yesterday, did quite a lot and knew that the hard graft will have to continue. I was secretly hoping that I’d be able to finish digging this patch today.

I had to construct one more bean wigwam, that finished the line very neatly.

After doing this, some hard digging was due. I already had a strip of land ready for planting leeks – there was used to be a line of raspberries (altogether in the wrong place but I inherited it like that). They were getting past their best so I didn’t mind getting rid of them. I put loads of horse manure there, the soil was a bit starved and the leeks will do well in there.

Everything else is done on this patch, it will be parsnips and perhaps carrots, if I have some space left. I have got some land earmarked for carrots already but you can’t have too many…

I was glad I started nice and early today – soon after 9am – it was 12.20 when I finished and I allowed myself only a short coffee break.

To be continued tomorrow, there is more land to be got ready – after all, I have got three and half plots…..

It keeps me sane

END OF DECEMBER

I am amazed that I still have some carrots to harvest. I know that parsnips and leeks are fine left in the ground but not carrots. Well, I went down to my ‘farm’ yesterday, the weather was very nice, dry and mild, it was quite easy to dig out some more carrots. I had to stop myself from digging as I thought I wouldn’t manage to take it all home. Fortunately Frank came to my rescue and we had two full large bags of carrots to take home. They are not perfect but not bad either. Very tasty they are!

There were some purple and yellow carrots among my harvest and I remembered that my friend gave me a packet of mixed seeds. The purple ones were completely free of any blemish, no carrot fly damage, altogether pristine. The yellow ones were the same as the usual orange ones. I decided to get a packet of purple seeds, put the theory to test. We shall see. Mr Fothergill company has them, they are Purple Haze. Watch this space next year, they are on order.

The leeks are doing well this year too, I have been harvesting them regularly and I still have quite a lot in the ground. The same with parsnips. I know they don’t look perfect but they more than make up for it in taste.

WONDERFUL VEGETABLES

I went to my ‘farm’ today first thing in the morning as the forecast said rain. As it happened, it was quite correct but I managed to do everything I wanted. It started to rain as I was going home.

First of all I put three bags of horse manure on each of my freshly dug pieces of land – I plan to grow sweetcorn there next year and then I harvested some veg for my friend next door.

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The soil is great, hardly any weeds.

I also managed to dig in my new little orchard where I grew all squashes and pumpkins so that land is ready for next year too. I have to decide what to grow there next year.

Each time I pull some carrots and parsnips I wonder how I managed to grow them so big. I have been on the allotment for 10 years now and this is just about the best result!

WINTER ACTIVITIES…

…are very useful. Apart from a few parsnips still in the ground all my digging is done. It is maintenance time now. The second greenhouse is done, beds are ready to start growing so now I have to get down to repairs etc.

This path was always to be the next one to sort out. It is between two of my plots so it is important that I can walk there without being afraid that I’ll slip.

I had some more pieces of wood left (most likely salvaged from someone’s demolition of a bed), they were just the right size to support the edges and the rest was easy. We’re in the process of having the trees at the back of the site, outside the new-ish fence trimmed to the height of the fence and at the same time we have the wood chip deposited in the top corner of the site, on an unused plot. A win – win solution.

WINTER DIG

After a few days of rain today was a reasonably dry day. Quite a mild day so after sorting the kitchen out – as quickly as possible – I went to the allotment. I managed to do quite a bit of digging during the autumn and there are only a few patches left. I’m happy with the piece I did today, during this found a good few parsnips and now the ground is ready.

There’s only one net cage to sort out and gradually harvest the remaining parsnips and I’m ready.

Of course, there is the greenhouse to build – a winter challenge. Watch this space!

SUNNY DAY

I was reading my notes from last year, trying to see how behind I am with my planting. The result? At least two weeks. Never mind, my activity on Wednesday and today (18th and 20th April) almost caught up with last year.

One more plot finished, of course the same goes for this one as for the first one – the net cages are empty but the greenhouse in the back garden is filling up with seedlings that I will start transplanting as soon as the weather stabilises.

There are parsnips, strawberries, broad beans, globe artichokes, garlic and potatoes on this plot and one pear tree and two apple trees. The fig tree in front of the shed is doing well and my plan is to plant some more rooted cuttings of the fig there as well thus creating a little orchard. Who would have guessed that I would be able to grow and harvest figs!

RHUBARB

At last!! I have pulled a number of beautiful rhubarb stems but unfortunately I don’t know the variety. This crown has been on the allotment for a number of years, it looks quite established but it is not too big so I don’t have to divide it yet.

The soil was quite warm and getting dry so I started sowing my parsnips – 7 lines(you can’t have too many parsnips!) Also a long line of Swiss Chard, the brilliant white variety.

UNDER A BLANKET

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.