Amazingly we have a sunny Bank Holiday and I’m making the most of it. I am doing my best to finish all my weeding and any other heavy work because I’m due to have an operation on my back to remove a cancerous growth so after that I will have to take it easy. I weeded one more net tunnel where I have my currant bushes and then worked in the newest greenhouse. I’m so pleased to have it, it would have been a shame not to rescue it – thank you Wayne.
I have two benches in there, they both hold 12 large pots with tomato plants and in the soil on the floor I have a mix of lettuce, radishes and more tomato plants.
As I was transplanting the lettuce seedlings I found many more little tomato plants, it must’ve been the seeds in the compost from my composter bins. I’ll keep as many as I can. Of course I have no idea what type of tomato they’ll be but all the better for it, it’ll be a pleasant surprise.
I had a look at my apple trees and I think the harvest will be good. Of course we shall have ‘June drop’ but I think I might have to thin them out as well, just to be sure to get some nice sized apples.
The last job was to check the strawberries and they are doing well too.
I think all this is thanks to Wayne’s bees. He has got four hives on our site and they have been very busy. The bees are amazing – only a few days ago they swarmed but didn’t go too far, they settled in Wayne’s apple tree in their garden and built this fantastic structure
Incredible, I’ve never seen anything like it.
The moving of tomatoes and other pots continues. The greenhouse in the back garden is organised, the pots that are there will stay, it is just about enough that can fit comfortably, the light can get to all of them. I had to put some netting inside and attached it to the roof, it was getting too hot, the sun was scorching the leaves.
I have a few pots on the patio in the garden, these are cherry tomatoes, Dave had too many so I took some.
The rest of the tomatoes have gone to the allotments and because the greenhouses there are full I planted them in the large net cage where I have brassicas. I had tomatoes there in the past, they do well.
After watering in the greenhouses I had a look at the strawberries and found our first ripe one. Let us hope for a good harvest.
The weather forecast for today wasn’t very encouraging, showers mainly in the afternoon. But I have decided to go to the allotment in the afternoon to plant some more tomatoes in the greenhouses and get the land ready for more climbing beans. In the end the afternoon was beautiful, sunny and warm and I was able to weed the whole of my orchard and the ground where the collapsed net tunnel was. I will put the climbing beans there, the ground is quite rich. I found some more bean poles, made a row and a wigwam and behind it placed three of the plastic poles that formed the sides of the old net tunnel. They bend quite well and will be for my butternut squashes and tromboncino to climb on.
I didn’t manage to grow either of these last year and now I have got at least three of each variety. I’ve got more of the plastic poles, I’ll erect some more over the weekend.
Two of my greenhouses are planted up with tomatoes, there are still some radishes in one of them. These did amazingly well, this is the first time I managed to grow them successfully.
I have got quite a few tomato plants left at home so I’ll be taking them there bit by bit. I have decided to keep the pepper and aubergine plants in the greenhouse at home, I’ll plant them in some large pots, they’ll be just fine on the benches and even on the floor.
Everything is growing rapidly – all that rain and a warm day in between, no surprise there. Best of all are doing the weeds.
Yesterday and today I was working in the greenhouses on the allotment. I decided to use the grow rings and when I didn’t have enough of them I used the large black pots that I had from the old canabis factory that got raided a few years ago. At that time I had close to a hundred of these pots so it didn’t matter now to cut the bottoms off so I could sink them into the beds in the greenhouse.
Another lesson from last year – less is more. Having the grow rings and pots in the greenhouses forces me to space my plants and don’t plant any more. I know from last year they grow tall and bushy and very soon the greenhouse resembles a jungle. Having this set up stops that. In case I thought I was wasting good growing space I sowed some radishes, onions, parsley, basil and lettuce in the free soil. All these plants will be short, will mature quickly and get harvested well before I can pick any of the tomatoes or peppers.
The seedlings in my large greenhouse at home are all doing well, just as I thought when I decided to sow all the seeds again. Never mind, I shall have plenty of tomato and pepper plants to try to find a home for. Some of the tomatoes can actually survive outside in a sheltered spot, I did that during the last few years and they were fine.
Both peas and carlin peas are growing well and I have two wigwams ready for them in the large net cage. I have to do that, our pigeons on the allotment would strip them completely.
My New year started well. The weather is reasonably kind to me and I have been going to the allotment as often as I can. I knew I had a few jobs that needed doing – finishing the weeding in the fruit cage and tackling the raspberry patch. This is another job that keeps coming up, never mind how often I do it during the year. To start with I had to cut down all the old canes that bore fruit. This is quite easy, it is clear which ones these are. That done it showed even more all the weeds. I was hoping to do the weeding during one session but that was too hopeful. I finished the job today and I’ll wait and see how quickly the weeds will start growing. I’m not cutting corners, all weeds are pulled up. roots and all.
I also planted the first part of my elephant garlic in the ground, it was growing in a grow box in my garden. I needed to empty the box because I have a plan how to use it better.
There will be more to come.
My friend who is a tree surgeon and does garden clearances asked me if I wanted a greenhouse. Of course I said yes. He said that he and his men will put it up on my plot. I’ve never seen a greenhouse assembled this fast. He told me that they very carefully dismantled it, saved all the clips, springs and glass so they just reversed the process. They will need to replace a few panes of glass, it gets rather brittle with age. It is not just an ordinary greenhouse, there are two bolted together.
I even have two benches inside. This is where the grow boxes come in, I will have them in the back greenhouse and in the front one I’ll put large flowerpots. I still have a number of them from the cannabis farm some years ago. Also the position of the greenhouse is such that I’ll be able to stand a line of the large pots outside, it is a perfect sun trap and tomatoes will thrive there.
Waste not want not.
Another nice day today, a real Indian summer so more clearing on the allotment. It is just one long job. Yesterday I hoed over the old potato patch, today was dead-heading roses and taking the old sweetcorn plants on the pile where I put everything else that doesn’t go in the composter bins. As I was going up and down on the path I noticed a couple of strawberries – I don’t think I have had them this late before.
I need to trim the grass on the paths so I’m charging the strimmer battery. I had to cut the huge comfrey plant before I do that so this time I will make some feed out of the leaves. Very simple – just chop the leaves and put in a bucket, or in my case, a water butt. This one is right at the back of the plot as the mix will smell quite badly as it rots.
I only had time to have a short break and sitting in the greenhouse I noticed some lovely tomatoes. These are Speckled Roman and they did very well, must have them next year again.
After a very long wait I finally have some chillies on one of the Biquinho plants. I’m looking forward to tasting it.
The weather was kind to me today so I could continue in the clearance of the allotment. First of all I harvested the peppers, tomatoes and a few cucumbers from the greenhouses. A couple of the cucumbers are rather over-ripe but that doesn’t matter, I will get the seeds and save them for next year.
This was a very prolific and tasty cucumber, I’d like to grow it again next year. The pepper plants look very healthy and I will keep them as long as possible.
The tomatoes and peppers I have roasted and I will blitz them to make a very tasty soup.
I wanted to try a few parsnips, I wasn’t sure how they performed. They looked fine above ground, the tops are green and quite big. I pulled out a few and was pleasantly surprised. I know they taste better after the first frost has been but I might have a long wait.
This will make a nice country-style vegetable soup, I’ll put the carrots in as well.
They might not look great but they’re very tasty. I’ll scrub them, cut into chunks and then add a few handfuls of sweetcorn in, I found four cobs on the plants as I was pulling them out. They look fine and will be ideal in the soup.
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.
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.
I knew that today was ‘stay in the kitchen’ day and I was right. The result is wonderful, well worth the time spent chopping and slicing. A few trips up into the loft to collect some more jars for bottling the pickled beans and Kilner jars for the bottling and all is done. The huge lot of jars is rapidly going down, there are no more Kilners there, only the ones I have ready downstairs. Never mind, that can be sorted out.
I used the box of blackberries to bottle them, just packed them in the jars and pressed down, they were so juicy nothing else was needed.
They will make a perfect desert in the winter.
Next on the list were the beans – I had a lovely mix of different climbing beans so I decided to make something savoury for a change.
We’ll have to wait a few months to let them mature but they are perfect, very tasty. I might be making some more, there will be many more beans.
The last but not least were the tomatoes, courgettes and a few of the left over beans. My latest favourite product, pasta sauce.
It was in the middle of the afternoon that I finally did the last lot of washing up and labelled all the jars.
Tomorrow is another day, I’m sure I will find something else to do on the allotment and harvest more goodies.