Finally it all came together. First of all I managed to harvest my very first spring rhubarb – I think it is the tastiest of all the pickings.
Last year in the autumn I have acquired another greenhouse, a very old one at that. It belonged to an elderly lady who lived in a house right next to our allotments. We were very friendly, she was used to come to see me quite often . She had a little gate in her fence as her husband was used to have a plot on our site quite a number of years ago. She died a few years ago and the people who bought her house didn’t want the greenhouse so I rescued it. The structure was sound but as we dismantled it quite a lot of the panes of glass broke – it was very old and brittle. Anyway, with help I moved it all to my plot and stored it very carefully. My friend Dave said he would help me to put it together. Soon after the New Year he surprised me by getting the structure up and in position. It formed a neat group of greenhouses. Next job was harder – sorting out the panes of glass. As so much of it broke I decided to do a bit of mix and match – I ordered eight polycarbonate sheets for the side panels and decided that the rest and the roof would be glass. Had to buy some more glass but it all started to take shape. I’m delighted to say that the only thing to do now is to fix new runner wheels on top of the door – on order – and all is done. Nevertheless I have constructed my raised beds inside, filled them with the contents of one composter bin and a number of sacks of Dalefoot compost. This way I can have one greenhouse for tomatoes, one for peppers and chillies and one for aubergines and the occasional cucumber will be placed where I will find space. I am very happy but all this was possible only with a huge lot of work by Dave. Thank you Dave. A friend in need is a friend indeed.
I had an idea that I’d like to have another greenhouse – more room to grow peppers and tomatoes. One day I was talking to Simon who has a large polytunnel on his plot. Due to circumstances he found it difficult to keep it in order and to cut a long story short he offered me a chance to use one half of it. Of course I said yes! We shall have peppers there and that way I shall have my two greenhouses to grow more tomatoes.
I went down my farm today in the afternoon and as it started raining I was able to dig the soil inside, water it and spread some horse muck in. Another job done!
Now I just hope for good weather so I can finish all my other jobs.
During my daily visit I managed to pick some more tomatoes, some cucumbers and put more lids and suchlike under the growing pumpkins and squashes. Needless to say I had to keep up with the weeds – if everything grew as well as the weeds….
I’m delighted with the cucumbers, they are very tasty and it looks the plant will keep on producing. The long shiny peppers will turn red eventually, they are the long sweet variety. Another first for me in the greenhouse. I must be doing something right….
I knew all the lovely topsoil I managed to get from my two ‘forgotten’ composter bins would come handy. It was a bit too wet today to continue with digging so I had to concentrate on maintenance.
First was one path, rather the grass on it, that had to be cut. As it was so high it had to be done with the shears. Ideal job for a chilly morning. There was so much grass it almost filled one composter bin.
Talking of bins – some weeks ago I emptied a couple of them and bagged the contents – beautiful topsoil to be used to top up the raised beds in my lovely greenhouse.
I was late in the season getting the greenhouse but it is all going to be ready for an early start next spring. I know it is wishing my life away but I can’t wait. All my tomato, cucumber and pepper seeds are sorted out and I’m ready……………
After a long deliberation I decided that I would like to get a large polytunnel for the allotment. Found the website, the tunnel looked just perfect – 12ft wide and 20ft long. It would have covered nearly a half of one plot. The idea was I’d ask for it for my big birthday next year – or rather I wouldn’t want any Christmas or birthday presents, just a bit towards it. It was a bit pricey, I must admit. All that would have started next spring and I would have asked/begged a number of people to help to build it.
Obviously it wasn’t the right thing for me – I still had my doubts, mainly because of the price. All has been sorted out for me.
Reg had a nice little greenhouse on the half of a plot next to mine. Sadly he is no longer with us and his widow didn’t want to keep it – it was clearly meant to be mine. I bought it from her and after clearing it out and adding some manure to the soil we’re up and running.
I’ve got a few tomato plants, some sweet peppers and a cucumber – that should be climbing up along the wire I have arranged for it.
Outside I have two water butts, both have got a working tap and are elevated on support and have a pipe leading from the gutter to fill it.
There was a propagator inside as well so after clearing the ground on the side of the greenhouse I moved it there – a perfect fit.
I think I will line it with bubble wrap for the winter so we can have lettuce and tomatoes and cucumbers till later in the autumn.
It was well worth waiting for!
A couple of years ago one of the plot holders made a fantastic brassica cage – he’s a carpenter so it was just pefect. He used hard wood and made a this cage in such a way that it could be taken apart and moved.
Simon inherited this cage, took it apart and moved it on his plot. This year, however, he didn’t want to use it any more and offered it to me. I tried not to snatch it too fast, didn’t want to seem too greedy. I always wanted a cage like this, but mine will stay put! I’ve got enough structures to be able to rotate my crops between the cages.
Thanks to good weather today and Simon’s hard work, I have an amazing brassica cage! I won’t be growing cabbages in it this year though, I had some kale in this place last year. No problem, I’ll put outdoor tomatoes and sweet peppers there.
This done, I continued on my other plot. I had a cage there for the past two years but wasn’t happy with the construction and the position of it. It was very easy to take it apart – I remembered how I made it and this was just the reverse process!
The net was carefuly saved, the wood too so it was easy to measure the area and start building.
It is a bit bigger than the old one and as I didn’t grow any brassicas on this plot, I shall put a lot of kohl rabis there.
This is the end of building for this year, perhaps I will rebuild one more old cage in the autumn.
Now just to cover the frame of the old polytunnel with some netting and all is ready. For that I need another one of my helpers.
I think this year I have finally managed to do what I knew I should be doing – not to get carried away when deciding what and when to sow.
In the past years I was sometimes way too early and then plants got leggy or just died so I didn’t gain anything or I simply sowed too many seeds and was then swamped.
This year is different – I’ve got quite a few kohl-rabies and cabbages, purely because I wanted a lot of them. As I have my brassica nets on the allotment, I shall have enough space to house them all and, as I have read in the RHS information pages about mushroom compost, that is excellent for brassica growing because it means that the plants are less likely to be affected by club root.
In the brassica line I’ll have cabbages – white and red, kale, purple sprouting broccoli, kohl-rabi and cauliflowers.
All of these are neatly transplanted into bigger pots and there they can take their time to grow, ready to be transplanted into the cages.
The tomatoes are doing well too, again the same rules apply – less is more and I’m quite pleased. I managed to find some purple tomatilloes, delighted about it as so far I only managed to find the green ones. It will be very interesting. I have got a few chilli peppers and sowed some sweet peppers today, just to make sure I’ve got a bit of everything.
I’d like to grow the tomatoes and tomatilloes on the allotment, inside the net cages – these do offer some protection and the fruit is much more tasty having been grown outside.
Apart from the veg I’ve got some sunflowers coming up, I’d like to plant them out on the allotment to encourage the bees – we have got a hive there, hopefully the bees are still in.
The days are getting longer but not really warmer; never mind, I can amuse myself in the greenhouse.
I have decided that it is just about time to continue with my sowing activities. I had a number of the new egg-shell halves in their boxes – it’ll be interesting to see how the seeds will grow. The greenhouse isn’t heated but it was pleasant enough to work there in the early afternoon.
Less is more – I didn’t always follow this motto but I made a new start this year and will stick to it.
So far I have a few of the following:
Kohl Rabi Modrava F1 – I like kohl rabi, it is getting more known here now but back in my home country it is quite common.
Sweet pepper Corno Rosso and Long red Marconi, Chilli pepper Cayenne
Two kinds of tomato – the outdoor variety San Marzano and Roma VF – I’ve never grown these so it’ll be very interesting to see how they do. They’ll be outside on the allotment but in a net cage – this’ll offer a bit of protection as I found last year with my Tomatillo.
Tomato Tigrella – will have a few of them on the allotment and a few in the greenhouse in the back garden, it’ll be interesting to compare.
Aubergine Black Beauty – I’m determined to grow them, so far I had no luck!
Cucumber Marketmore 76 – same plan here – some outside and one or two in the polytunnel.
Also some flower seeds went in – Rudbeckia Chocolate Orange, sweet pea Tall Spencer and a blue Delphinium.
Not only this but I started chitting some Charlotte potatoes for my granddaughter Eve to grow in bags, her first effort – may it be the first of many. Great to find a kindred spirit.