28. JANUARY

I am making most of this reasonable weather, that’s why I went to the allotment straight after breakfast. I don’t have much left to do there so I started with lifting the rest of my parsnips. 

They did very well this year and this little harvest will feed us a few times.

This is my best parsnip yet, nice and straight and no blemishes despite being in the ground until now.20230128_131543

Hopefully the weather will stay like today and I will be able to continue working tomorrow. I managed to finish clearing the strawberry beds, the weeds again did very well,  but now all is ready for the new season.

18. JANUARY

We’ve got another cold snap here, a sudden shock to the system but all this is good for the soil. I’m glad, almost all of my digging is done.  I had to go to the allotment, I wanted to empty my kitchen scraps bucket so as I was there I tried to dig out  some of  my last few remaining parsnips. I was lucky – the soil was frozen on the top but it was quite easy to pull some parsnips out. A good thing about the hard soil is that the parsnips come out reasonably clean. I have got some more left, and the new plants – broad beans and garlic are coming up.

Life continues, soon will be time to plant and sow.

All my seeds are sorted out, put into groups , the greenhouse is clean, small pots are ready – all I need is more sunshine, longer days and warmth.

2. OCTOBER

The weather was kind to me today so I could continue in the clearance of the allotment. First of all I harvested the peppers, tomatoes and a few cucumbers from the greenhouses. A couple of the cucumbers are rather over-ripe but that doesn’t matter, I will get the seeds and save them for next year.

20221002_140452 This was a very prolific and tasty cucumber, I’d like to grow it again next year. The pepper plants look very healthy and I will keep them as long as possible.

The tomatoes and peppers I have roasted and I will blitz them to  make a very tasty soup.

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I wanted to try a few parsnips, I wasn’t sure how they performed. They looked fine above ground, the tops are green and quite big. I pulled out a few and was pleasantly surprised. I know they taste better after the first frost has been but I might have a long wait.

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This will make a nice country-style vegetable soup, I’ll put the carrots in as well.

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They might not look great but they’re very tasty. I’ll scrub them, cut into chunks and then add a few handfuls of sweetcorn in, I found four cobs on the plants as I was pulling them out. They look fine and will be ideal in the soup.

20. MARCH

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.

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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.20220320_133753

11. FEBRUARY

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?) 

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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.

CLEARING UP

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.

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PARSNIPS

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.

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BIG IS BEAUTIFUL

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.20201009_123002

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. 20201009_123010

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 ….

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.