27.SEPTEMBER

It was a clean-up time in the last few days on the allotment. I knew that I took my eyes off the weeds in the corner of one of my plots but when I actually got down to it I was in for a shock. The stinging nettles did very well and filled the space between my net tunnel and the enclosure for discarded pieces of wood and unwanted items.

In the end it was quite therapeutic to hack at the nettles and pile them on the compost heap. During this process I rediscovered another composter bin and that was the best surprise – it was full of beautiful crumbly soil. It must have been there a good few years, I kept adding to it but never emptied it. It reinforced my resolution to leave these bins as long as possible, it pays off.

Of course it followed that I would sort out inside the net tunnel. I have blackcurrants there and as they are still young I had some free space – enough to plant a couple of squashes. These did very well and I harvested one already, it will ripen at home. There are a couple more, a bit smaller so they can stay a while longer.

Because I had a pepper plant in one of my grow beds in the home greenhouse and wanted to use it for something else I harvested the fruit. I have never seen such misshapen peppers before and I haven’t tasted them to see if they are hot or sweet.

They all grew on the same plant and by the looks of the ‘normal’ ones I guess they’ll be hot.

9. SEPTEMBER

We are certainly entering autumn and I am harvesting every time I go to the allotment. Certain vegetables I am still picking even though I thought that was the end, like tomatoes, cucumbers and courgettes. Peppers have started later but keep going very strong now. My sweetcorn is the best I have ever grown and I must make sure I grow it again next year. This is what I like about the allotment, it shows me what does well, we find out what we like to eat and when I put the two together I have a plan for next year.

thumbnail

courgettes

The fruit trees are maturing and I can see the results. The apples are plentiful and really delicious and I’m sure they taste much better than the ones we buy in the shop.apples

These are a mix of James Grieve and Charles Ross. I have got a few more apple trees there but the apples will be a bit later, perhaps October.

29. AUGUST

It has been so amazingly dry these last few weeks that I’m quite surprised anything is growing on the allotment. Fortunately I have my greenhouses and that keeps the tomatoes and peppers happy. I haven’t had so many tomatoes and peppers in all the years I’ve been working there.Thinking of the current situation it is quite lucky that I’ve had such a super harvest, I was able to bottle a lot of the produce – oven roasted mixed vegetables or just tomatoes, cooked blackberry and apples for future crumbles and the list goes on. I’m especially pleased with the oven roasted mixed vegetables, I just add a glug of olive oil, no water so the flavours are really concentrated.

The cucumber in the greenhouses did very well. I have planted two plants and they have climbed up and along a wire the entire length of the greenhouse, producing a lot of fruit. I had so much that I was able to make cucumber relish for the very first time and it was very tasty.

My friend Mary and her son Wayne have got a few beehives on their plot and today was the day to harvest their honey. I’ve never seen it done and was amazed how very laborious it is. 

I’m sure it is thanks to the bees that our fruit harvest is so good. It is not only the fruit that benefited from the bees, my sunflowers did very well too. My tallest one was 915cm and today I brought home two of the biggest heads to save them for Chris for next year’s competition.

Both are 25cm in diameter so we should have enough seeds for everybody.

10. AUGUST

We seem to have another heat wave so I am doing a reduced amount of work on the allotment. But even the reduced amount takes quite a while before I manage to water my four greenhouses. Of course that usually leads to tidying up inside, picking ripe tomatoes and anything else I might see.

By the time I have done all that I didn’t feel tired yet so I picked my blackberries, some apples, plums and a few courgettes. Then there were the last few potatoes in the ground, got them out and decided to have them for lunch with the few heads of broccoli. By now I certainly had enough and thought of going home. The harvest was so good I had to load it all in my wheelbarrow to take it home.

Of course I had to make something out of all this . On top of that I picked some beautiful long green peppers in my greenhouse at home so I added them to the oven roasted tomatoes and bottled them . All ready for the winter.

I had so many plums I was able to make a number of jars of plum chutney. It will be interesting as I have never made this one.20220809_093005

19. JULY

I went to the allotment quite early yesterday morning, I knew we were going to have a very hot day. Picked a couple of courgettes, some lovely pale peppers, cucumbers and another huge bag of tomatoes.

This time I used my tomatoes to cook the pasta sauce – chopped them, sliced the courgettes and the peppers, put into a large saucepan where I first gently cooked some chopped onions and then slowly cooked it all. Only added a small amount of water. This sauce has got some of my basil leaves in, the flavour is lovely. I have six more jars ready for the winter.

20220719_090832

6. FEBRUARY

It was back to the usual activities in the afternoon, after a fantastic weekend. Thanks to Mike and Nicky, Tom, Kim and the children and Pete, Suzi and Jay we had the best ever birthday weekend in a very long time (that’s what I think!!) A session in a spa with Suzi for me, the Wave experience with the boys – young and older for Frank and then a meal in the Telegraph Hotel for all of us. We had rooms booked so it was a late night for all.

We got home around midday and after unpacking I started doing the usual things – tidying our things, sorting out the seeds that I want to get going, sorting out the propagator and getting the soil in the little trays. Amazing how  much time all this takes, but the propagator is up and running, three out of four trays are done – chillies, peppers, tomatoes and just a few aubergines.

One tray is empty as I’m waiting for my latest seeds to arrive in the post. I have found a new (for me) seed company and ordered some different chillies and tomatoes. They are called Sea spring seeds and I’m hoping that they will be as good as the website suggests.

4.JANUARY

Yesterday was a day of rest and a visit to a lovely National Trust place with our friends Lisa and John and children. Packwood House is lovely at any time of the year and yesterday was very enjoyable.

Well rested I started in the morning by taking  my kitchen waste to the allotment, to feed the worms in the composter bins. As I have five of them, it takes some filling but Lisa gives me her kitchen scraps so  my worms are well looked after.

The next task was a big improvement in my oldest greenhouse. When I was there last time I managed to dismantle the top of bench and the plan was to find my set of little spanners so I could detach the frame from the greenhouse structure. I was sure they would be in the shed – they were there and the bench didn’t take any time to undo. I’m delighted with the result, I have gained whole side of the greenhouse to grow tall plants, like tomatoes or peppers.

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.

20211017_153618

ONE MAN’S RUBBISH IS

another man’ treasure. This was the story of my morning today. This story started some months ago. On the street where I walk to the allotment a house was raided by the police. It was a canabis growing place. The police took the occupants away and boarded the doors and windows of the house. So far so good. As I was walking to the allotment in the morning I saw a van in front of this ordinary terraced house with a couple of men carrying pots and bags out and loading them in the van. When I asked what they are going to do with the pots etc I was told that they would donate them to me – and the bags with the compost if I wanted it.. Of course I agreed, got my wheelbarrow from the allotment, which is just down a short passage, and started taking it all there. In the end it proved a bit much for me so I phoned Frank to come and help and between the two of us we finished the job. The compost in the bags was used but only once after one lot of plants grew in it so it is still very good.

I had a piece of land where I harvested my garlic and had nothing growing there now so that is my latest storage area. I’ll be able to share the pots with my friends on the site and the compost will be excellent for topping up the level of soil in my raised beds. All this has saved me quite a bit of money and effort – I don’t have to drive to a garden centre to get  the compost and the pots will be just right to grow my tomatoes or peppers.

Waste not want not and the guys from the clearing company had much less to take to the tip.

SPRING IS HERE

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.20210318_111901

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.