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!

THERE’S MORE

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….

SUPPORT

I was rather concerned that the biggest squashes might fall off, that the stem would break under their weight so I decided to rig up some support.

All it needed was a piece of old green netting for the big round one and two old onion nets and all is we.. It would be a shame if I lost them now, after all the effort….

FEEDING

Despite the very dry period my monsters seem to be getting bigger. One of the Zucca da marmelata fruits increased so much I had to create a support for it, I don’t want to lose it too soon, before being fully ripe. I hope it’ll hold it.

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There is one more monster but I don’t think I shall try to do anything, hope for the best.

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My very own Maltese pumpkin – well, one of a few – let’s see what he’ll manage.

GREENHOUSE

I was much better organised this year with my allotment greenhouse. It is only small, not really perfect but it seems to do the job.

I planted some cucumber plants there and a number of different tomato plants.

They are doing amazingly well, I’m just waiting for the tomatoes to turn red. Once one of them goes, the others will follow.

Another thing I had to do on my plot was to build a new structure for my squashes. I had them climbing up on rather rustic structures last year but the combined effect of strong winds in the autumn and the weight of one of my Zucca da marmelata’s brought the whole thing crashing down.

The new structure is much more sturdy – lower but firmly fixed. It will be there for a few years. The first plants are beginning to climb and some have fruit already. I am watering and feeding almost every day. It will be worth it!

JUNE

After a fairly dismal start everything seems to be growing well – not quite everything, the carrots, parsnips and beetroot didn’t germinate well, I had to re-seed them and even that is struggling. Never mind, I live in hope.

The squashes are doing much better though. As usual I will grow my tromboncino and zucca da marmelata and I add some new ones to it – zucca Hubbard and a Maltese pumpkin.

The squashes had a lovely structure last year but as one zucca da marmelata was about 7 kilo it pulled the structure down – with the help of a fairly fierce wind. Back to the drawing board then and I have constructed a new structure this year, in fact three of them. Much sturdier and I very much hope they will last a few years.

I planted a couple of squashes beside each vertical and with a little bit of coaxing they will climb.

After this I harvested one part of the garlic plants, purely to get it out of the ground to clear a square piece of land to implement my plan.

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I have rescued two raised beds – they were abandoned on an empty plot so I thought I’d give them a chance to be useful. And useful they are for me – they are made in such a way that the corners are hinged so they can fold flat. Well, they’re not flat any more, I have put them on the plot, ready to plant with the autumn broad beans. That means that I can cover them with some netting as last autumn the pigeons ate all of my broad bean plants!!

A VERY BUSY DAY

I am sure the first of many. If the weather forecast is to be believed we shall have a sunny Bank holiday weekend – whatever next!!

I made most of the lovely day, took some lunch with me to the allotment in order not to waste any time and worked almost till 4pm.

One of the jobs I have is to cut the grass on the paths – I am getting there. It is rather handy as I use the grass to mulch my raspberries. It not only looks good but it is much easier to walk. Unfortunately I have to do it with my shears – somewhat backbreaking but needs must.

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Next came some planting. I have got a fig tree on the allotment already but as they grow quite well from cuttings I shall have a few there. Today was the day to plant another little one and hopefully in the autumn or next spring I shall have a few more.

I’m lucky to have my little greenhouse on the farm and today I started planting my tomato plants there. Some years ago I got some grow rings that were meant for grow bags but I use them in the open soil in the greenhouse and they are just perfect!

Last two years I grew some huge squashes, they managed to climb up on my structures I constructed for them but as one of the large ones – zucca da marmelata – weighed 7 kilo, the whole structure collapsed. The zucca was unharmed but I had to think of something else. I just happen to have a very nice neighbour who is changing some decking in his garden so I have used the horizontal pieces from the banister and the result is just what I wanted.

I will plant one zucca in each corner and they can climb as much as they want, this structure will support them.

And the last job was to plant some cabbages in one of my net tunnels – pigeon protection! I had them outside for quite a while so they are used to the temperature.

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A RAINY DAY

I got used to the idea that the exceptional nice weather has gone but I didn’t want this cold and wet day like today. Never mind I thought, I have got jobs I can get on with, like working in the greenhouse and dreaming.

Despite the distinct chill in the air the seedlings in the greenhouse are doing very well, they all look healthy. I have got quite a few pumpkins grown from seeds from Malta

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All of a sudden my tomatoes have started growing – it was a very slow start and I almost gave up but now I think I shall have enough to fill a few of my net cages. I have been growing them in this way and I seem to avoid them being hit by blight.

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One more plant I am delighted with, a Himalayan lily. I bought just one bulb a number of years ago at a country fair. So far it didn’t do anything, just produced beautiful shiny leaves but on careful reading I shall have to wait a bit more to get a flower. It looks especially good his year so I am hopeful.

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It was growing in the open ground but didn’t like it very much. Moving it into a large pot with rich soil certainly improved it. As I was replanting it last autumn I managed to detach a few scales from the main bulb and planted them on the allotment in my mixed flower bed. I’m delighted to say that there are at least two lovely shiny leaves appearing.

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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