AN UNLOVED PLOT

It was a neglected plot, right next to mine. I hated the idea of all that lovely soil not producing anything so a decision was made. I took on a half – there is a greenhouse on the first half and somebody else has got that. I didn’t want a greenhouse on the allotment – too much hassle with watering, ventilation etc.

First I moved a mountain of piled up wood and don’t know what  else, sorted out good pieces that could be used again and then started digging.

Cold or no cold – digging is a perfect remedy. It only took a few days and the job is done. I even managed to construct a little enclosure for a compost heap (for weeds and such like), moved the water-butt and a composter bin and now all is just lovely and ready to be planted.

Because I know the previous occupant grew potatoes I shall put some pumpkins, squashes and bush courgettes there this year.

You can’t have enough ground, there are always plants to grow…..

END OF NOVEMBER

The digging was finished yesterday afternoon. It was only the last strip of land where the bonfire was and I was able to dig the ashes in.

As I had some of Paul’s sticks left it would have been a shame not to use them. So I did.

As some of my squashes climbed quite well I’ve got a plan for my new variety to grow here. This will be a squash called Pennsylvania dutch crookneck. I found the seeds in a new (for me) seed company, Plant world seeds.

It was a beautiful frosty afternoon and I was quite glad that I didn’t have to do anything there today, it was just a short visit to take photos.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

COLOURFUL HARVEST

It is all go on the allotment, just as well the weather is good and I can get the harvest in. It sounds like I’ve got a farm but, in truth, I might just as well have a farm the amount of veg I’m harvesting.So far I’ve got four full sacks of potatoes in the shed – but that’s not the end of potato harvest, there are some rows of Red rooster to get out of the ground.

Today was the turn of squashes…

..and parsnips. I know it is too soon to start pulling them out but as the tops looked huge I wanted to see if the root was anything like the tops. I was rather pleased. I had a slow start with them, they didn’t germinate well so I had to transplant the few that were all bunched together. That worked so well that I think I’ll do just that in the future. 002

Roast parsnip soup anyone?

SOMETHING UNUSUAL

I always try to grow something new and unusual every year. If it doesn’t work or we don’t like the taste – that one will bite the dust and I’ll try something else next year. This year was the turn of a new pumpkin – zucca da marmellata. I was amazed how well the plant grew and I also made it climb, it managed very well. This one will come back next year; I’d like to save my own seeds too.

Another ‘first’ is the sweetcorn. I had a go in the past but it either didn’t grow well at all or the squirrels ate it. This time I put a net all around it, also over it so nothing could get there. And it was worth it!

015

So altogether ‘ a good day in the office’.

ENGLISH WEATHER

I’m rather pleased with myself that I wasn’t in too much of a hurry to start my courgettes, squashes and beans in the greenhouse. Hailstones a few days ago, arctic wind now, the gardens and allotments don’t know what hit them!

Another good idea was to keep my kaffir lime in the greenhouse after the winter, it has got flowers and I live in hope that we might have some fruit. Even if I don’t get any fruit the leaves are very useful.

IN THE GREENHOUSE

things are starting to grow. I’ve been very good this year and didn’t sow things too soon (as I was used to do, year after year, and everything got very ‘leggy’).

The sunflowers are doing well, got high hopes for my chances in the ‘Johnson competition’.

The same can be said for my selection of different courgettes and squashes. The pumpkins are coming up too, there should be a decent harvest to make more delicious chutneys.

Tomatoes will be just the outdoor types, I’ll grow them in some of my net tunnels. This way they will get a bit of protection from the wind, and with a bit of luck, I shall avoid the dreaded blight. I’ve got a selection of brassicas – cabbages, kale, cauliflowers and kohl rabi. They will all go in the rest of the net cages, somewhere I didn’t grow this kind last year. This way I’ll be able to rotate between the cages, rather then moving any of them. I think I have got enough cages to be able to do that quite well.

…AND BUILD SOME MORE…

I have a steady supply of beautiful long willow branches because Paul is taking his sorting out very seriously. He was very kind to deliver today another huge bundle of sticks to the allotment and it din’t take very long to use up most of them .

First was this….

..a very nice, sturdy structure in one of my raised beds. This will be a home for some courgettes. They climb quite well, important is to keep them tied to the sticks. At least the fruits will be off the ground and the slugs won’t be tempted!

And of course, you can’t have too many trenches for growing climbing beans. This is a trench number two

…so this way I shall have a nice ‘bean corner’ beside my net tunnel. There is a small area left, between the trenches and the tunnel and thet will house another structure for growing more courgettes and squashes.

005

I’ll be able to build it next week because I’ll get another delivery of the sticks!

All I need now is good growing weather.

SOMETHING DIFFERENT

The only thing to do during the winter months is to sort out the seeds. I know there are other jobs around the house etc but I’m leaving that to my ‘man who does….’

I was fortunate to receive some Sutton seeds vouchers and as I had all my usual seeds already I decided to treat myself to some different ones. My motto – try some thing new every year – foremost in my mind, I ordered three unusual varieties.

When I first started gardening on my allotment I grew anything and everything, even though things like onions are ever so cheap in the shops and in order to have enough I would have had to have a field of them.

I follow James Wong‘s advice instead – grow something you find difficult to buy in the shop – and also have my own one – try something new every year. If it grows well and we like to eat it, I’ll have it again next year. If not, I didn’t lose anything much and will try something else next year.

WEIRD AND WONDERFUL

I like this time of year. Everything seems to be bursting out of the ground, shouting at me “pick me, me and me….”

I took on a neglected plot in the spring; I didn’t plan it but the people who were supposed to have started there gave up, I didn’t want our site look in a bad way – this plot is right next to the fence and nowadays everybody who walks by can see in.

I wasn’t quite sure what to grow. When in doubt, grow potatoes. They were a huge success as I had more space I planted them quite far apart and the result is that I have fantastic baking spuds. The rest of the ground was filled with courgette and squash plants.

The soil is great there and now the whole half of the plot is covered with huge courgette and squash plants – like an invading army, slowly marching across.

I planned to grow my favourite monster – Tromboncino courgette – but this one went a step too far.

008

There are other shapes and sizes, my next favourite is the flying saucer – New Zealand squash. The packet of seeds I have a few years old, Mike and Nicky brought it from their holidays there. Obviously tough seeds, keep on growing!

Another of the squashes gave me a bit of a shock, it appeared all of a sudden…

004

The best thing about all these monsters is that they taste great. I roast them in the oven, cut into chunks, sprinkled with olive oil and spices and just about 10 minutes before the end of cooking I add Halloumi cheese, cut into pieces, the result is very tasty indeed.

FROM THIS…..

….to a load of delicious chutney.

I found a great recipe last year – spicy squash and apple chutney – and because my squash harvest this year is exceptionally good, I decided to make some.

All it took was a trip to an old abandoned allotment site and pick some apples. I cannot imagine gardening there – the soil is quite poor, full of stones and the whole site is rather deserted. But the main thing is that the apple trees are doing well, despite being neglected, unpruned etc. They’re Bramley and that was perfect for my recipe.

003

The preparation is quite fiddly but it is well worth it. Another good thing about squashes is that they keep well, the important thing is to cut the stalk as long as possible if you’re not going to use them soon – they keep better that way.