MAY ACTIVITIES

It is all go on the allotment now. Fortunately the weather has been good so far, so I was able to plant and build. I was also able to harvest some of my produce – lettuce, that has been going for some time and now some young broad beans. Never mind waiting for the pods to mature and then shell them – we like to pick the young pods and chop them whole and add to a salad. Delicious!

Last year was not good at all, the pigeons had a great time eating all my young plants, so this time I planted a lot in one of my net cages. I put them in the ground in October, they grew well and continued to do well in the spring. As they started flowering I was wondering if I will get any beans, seeing that they were under cover. I didn’t have to worry, they are producing lovely pods and I don’t have to share them with pigeons.

It seems I have to cover quite a lot – lettuce for example. I did have a poly tunnel some years ago but the plastic started breaking. The structure was sound so with a bit of help from Mike we covered it in green netting and it works a treat. I even managed to build raised beds in there.

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Strawberries were the next thing to cover – I have got a number of raised beds, just to make it easier to put the net over them. It pays off, I harvested my first two sweet strawberries yesterday.

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Every year I try to grow something new. This year it is water melon. I have got three plants, all inside a greenhouse and one of them is showing signs of wanting to start climbing. Keep fingers crossed! I’d be happy with just one melon.

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It is not just vegetables that are doing well – my beautiful rose and clematis are a delight.

I did a count of my tomato plants – I think this year will be a bumper year, I have 80! It may seem a lot but they are all different varieties – Costoluto Fiorentino, Long Tom, Super Marmande, Ailsa Craig, Czech Bush, just to name a few! I didn’t have this many last year and I still use the last few I bottled. They freeze well, cooked of course. A win-win situation.

MAY…

…is here and it is rather chilly. All the same, work on the allotment is going on – building raised beds inside one of my net cages. I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time, got a nice lot of timber from the friendly builders next door and it took a few trips with my wheelbarrow to take it to the allotment.

The tomato plants were outside already so this wasn’t too much of a shock for them as they got planted here. I used some old flower pots, cut off the bottom and embedded them in the compost, that way the tomato plants will have more depth for their roots. In the empty spaces will be lettuce Webs wonderful.

The same goes for my sunflowers – they stood in one of the net cages for a week or so ; they’ll be fine planted here as they have a bit of protection from the greenhouse.

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Last but not least – I covered four of my strawberry beds, they are flowering very well and some small strawberries are already there. I just don’t want to share them with the birds.

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The mason bees are doing what they are supposed to do, it is wonderful to see that.

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THE END OF APRIL

I had a great day on the allotment today. The weather is good – so far –  and I managed to finish sowing my carrots, beetroot and parsnips. The rest of my leeks are also in the ground – last year I managed to grow just 3 leeks, all the others failed. I am more than making up this year.

Another first is my celeriac. I have only tried once in the past and failed. This year I think is the year where I’m determined to succeed.

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The tomatoes and aubergines are doing very well in the greenhouses….

…and strawberries and my fruit trees are in flower.

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Plenty to keep the mason bees happy.

DALEFOOT COMPOST

I needed to re-pot some of my tomato seedlings.  They were in pots with my new Dalefoot compost, the one called “double strength”. I was very pleasantly surprised how well the roots were formed.

 

These two tomato plants are now very happy in the greenhouse and many more will soon be ready to be moved. I’m delighted with the product and will be getting some more again.

A NEW WAY OF GROWING

Last week we went to visit our eldest son in the Lakes. As usual I did a bit of gardening there, weeding and cutting down old dry viburnum tree and, as the highlight of my stay, visited a nearby farm. I did read about them and heard about their produce but seeing it for myself was something else.

The farm is Dalefoot, they are in Heltondale and produce a large range of compost.

 

This particular compost is very good for growing tomatoes so I transplanted my seedlings into that. It says that it needs much less watering and I don’t have to feed it anymore. It is a winner on all fronts.

JUST WAITING…

….for the spring to start. The new greenhouse is ready, everything in place so now I shall just close the door and try to be patient.

Perhaps I might get a new thermometer just to be perfect….

The grow rings are in place and this time the motto is – more is less. Last year the old greenhouse resembled a jungle as I tried to cram in as many tomato plants as I could. They grew ever so well – perhaps too well, they got leggy and in the end I didn’t have any more fruit anyway. Well, we learn by mistakes….

 

 

30. DECEMBER

Today is the last Sunday of the year and the weather was very mild, almost like in the spring. I keep working on the allotment as long as the weather allows me. I have been lucky, the soil on out site drains very well so I can get on with my winter digging.

This is a part of my friend’s plot – he had a lot to organise at home and I offered to do some of his digging. Iust love digging!

Next job was to finish tidying the permanent courgette and squash structures. There were not too many weeds – surprise! – and I put a layer of the wood chip on the paths between them, that way I can walk there even on a wet day.

Just as I was finishing this my friend Dave came and told me that we are going to be putting together my greenhouse. He told me he’ll help when I first got it. I have been looking for another greenhouse for quite a while – one is just not enough as I’d like to have a go at growing water melons and more aubergines. There were moments when I thought that I made a mistake, all I saw was an organised pile of glass panes and the dismantled skeleton. It is nice to know somebody who knows exactly what to do with all this….

All I have to do now is to give it a good scrub – it has been lying there for a number of weeks, get some more clips to fix the panes of glass and build a couple of raised beds inside.

Watch this space.

PAMPERING…

..and talking to my plants certainly works. If a certain member of the royal family can do it, so can I.

There are two schools of thought as far as looking after tomatoes is concerned – take the leaves off or don’t. I go with the first one and it seems to work.

To be honest, I was feeding them with a mix of seaweed extract, comfrey tea and the liquid from my wormery. On top of than I topped the soil in the grow pots with Farmyard manure and soil improver from B&Q. Something must have worked!

The squashes are climbing well up and along the structures I’ve constructed for them, they have also been fed with the seaweed extract and some Fish, blood and bone.

And of course, all of them get encouragement from me!!

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.