It was another lovely day today, perfect for some work on the allotment. I started yesterday but because it was so windy I just managed to prepare the ground for sowing my parsnips. The seeds would have been blown all over the site.
It all worked out just fine anyway, Simon had a greenhouse to move from one plot to another – he wanted to have a clear run on that plot in order to work on it with his rotavator. This greenhouse we moved to a plot where he has a polytunnel already so the two structures are side by side. He took the glass out beforehand and it was quite easy to move it.
Today was a better day, sunny and the wind was much lighter. I was glad that I had the ground ready so I could start sowing straight away. First it was parsnips – I cannot imagine not growing parsnips. I went for the tried and tested varieties – Javelin and Gladiator. Every year I try to sow the seeds very carefully to avoid thinning out too much but this year I think I have done it just right. I’m sure we’ll have some great parsnip. Also I waited a few weeks to let the soil warm up more – again in the past I was a bit too quick to start sowing and the germination was poor. Let us hope for better results this year.
Next task was to sow some beetroot and chard. From past experience I know that I have to grow these in a net tunnel because the pigeons we have on the site would eat the very first leaves and I would have no harvest. That happened to me a few years ago and I have been sowing always under a net cover ever since. This is inside my very first net tunnel, I had to do a bit of repair work but I’m sure it is good for another season.
The rest of the space will be used for growing brassicas – red and white cabbage and broccoli, I’ve put down some lime on the soil already.
The last two plots that were unused have new tenant, Wayne, our friendly tree surgeon who lives next door. He and his Mum keep bees and he has got two of his hives on the plot next to the fence and he’ll be growing on the next one, next to mine. It was a very overgrown plot and he worked magic on it. It is ready for planting. He also planted a few small fruit trees there, his bees will be busy pollinating.
I was looking at my fruit trees, the pear trees are always the first to start flowering. I just hope we don’t get any late frost.
As the weather is still nice I knew I had a few jobs to finish on the allotment. There were some parsnips left in the ground and as I’m trying to get the land ready for this year’s growing I had to get them out. In the end there were quite a few of them, some of them rather big. I don’t mind the crooked ones – they get peeled and cooked all the same. There are just some leeks left on this particular piece of land and they’ll get used soon enough.
As I was washing the parsnips I noticed a big clump of stinging nettles all around the tap. I knew they were there – that’s one of the things, I knew about them, wanted to get rid of them but never got down to it. Somehow today they were rather too obvious in the sunshine so out they went. It all looks much better and makes using the tap painless (or should I say sting – less?)
All this took quite a while so I was quite ready to bag all my goodies and go home. I also took home some potatoes. My harvest was very good, I still have got a couple of sacks in the shed. I wanted to take some for us to eat and also some small ones to chit, to add to the others I bought in the garden centre the other day.
I was hoping the weather would be kind to me today, yesterday was fine but first thing in the morning the sky was very grey and just as I was thinking of going to the allotment it started drizzling. Fortunately I started making more blankets, not the baby ones this time, I’m making large ones, either to throw over on the bed or wrap over your knees on a chilly winter’s day so I had something to keep me busy in the morning.
Everything improved after lunch and I was able to get to my ‘farm’. I’m continuing with my no-dig policy and it works just fine, the ground is reasonably weed free to start with and it takes much less effort.
Having finished this part I have only my orchard to do on this plot and that won’t be too difficult, I keep it quite tidy most of the time. I have got two more plots to do but one of them is almost done – there are four greenhouses on it, a raspberry patch and a line of composter bins so that won’t take too much time either. On the last plot I have three net cages, a number of rows of parsnips and carrots so all in all things are looking up.
I’m putting the greenhouses to sleep for the winter but there are a few things in one of them. I am very pleased with my red pepper, it is the very first time I managed to grow them.
I knew that my parsnips did well this year but this one surprised me. I decided to harvest a few more today and this is the result.
It weighed in at this magnificent rate
Today is November 21st and the parsnip harvest is in full flow. I have pulled out the rest of the carrots yesterday, just in time I think because they don’t tolerate the wet conditions so well but parsnips are altogether different.
We have had some super parsnips before but some of the ones I brought home today are among the best. They don’t look quite perfect but they are huge, and what is even better and more important, the taste is super.
I thought I would get a few parsnips and some butternut squashes today. The parsnips are not quite straight but the taste is fantastic. It doesn’t matter that they are crooked, they’ll be peeled and cut up anyway.
The butternut squashes looked ready, the leaves and stem of the plant were quite dry so I started to cut them and will bring them home, each day a few. They are surprisingly heavy.
One of them will be for our lunch tomorrow, roasted with some spices and Halloumi cheese. I have also found a very interesting breakfast recipe, we shall try it tomorrow and either it will be just delicious or ….
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.
2 kinds of 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.
This was the sight that opened before me. Not very encouraging but everything is manageable.
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.
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.
climbing bean structures
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…
plot for parsnips/carrots
plot for parsnips/carrots
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
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.
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.
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!