8. JANUARY

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

8. OCTOBER

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.

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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.

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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.

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2. OCTOBER

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.

20221002_140452 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.

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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.

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This will make a nice country-style vegetable soup, I’ll put the carrots in as well.

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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.

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

1. AUGUST

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

29. JULY

It was back to a hot day today but I wasn’t planning to do anything too strenuous on the allotment. Nowadays I go every other day to water all the tomatoes and peppers in the greenhouses and harvest whatever I can. It was no different today.

As there are so many blackberries that are ripening so fast I pick them every time I go there. Last time I made some jam and today I thought I would try something else. We like blackberry and apple crumble, I had a fair number of apples under my trees so I picked them. When I got home I sat and very painstakingly cut them up, and chopped them into small pieces, mixed with the very ripe blackberries and over a low heat cooked them. The result is delicious, I didn’t use any sugar but I would add some later if needed. I filled four Kilner jars, one pie dish ready for crumble tomorrow and I still have a bowl of them left to have just with a drizzle of cream.

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Of course there were more tomatoes ready to pick and this time I  made a huge pot of tomato soup, just added some basil leaves, no water at all  needed, the tomatoes are beautifully juicy. This made four Kilner jars as well and a bowl left, enough for supper for  the two of us one evening, served with a garlic baguette or some such.20220729_182124

Both lots were put through a water bath, around 15 minutes and I have a ready supply for the winter. Nothing artificial added, just pure fruit or vegetables.

24. JULY

At last the temperature is a bit easier to work on the allotment, however my activities are rather curtailed. I have great plans on the way there – I’ll do the weeding here, collect the cut branches there etc. It is the same every time I go there and it always finishes in the same way – only a fraction of jobs get done. Take today. I was hoping to get on with watering all the plants in the four greenhouses but when I got to the farm I  noticed that the blackberries had turned black overnight. I wanted to  make some jam so I decided to pick them first and then do the other jobs. This didn’t take too long and I had two full boxes quite quickly.

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As I started watering the greenhouses I realised the tomatoes needed picking as well, even though I had a large bag of them a couple of days ago. Another little delay but well worth it, I could make more pasta sauce because I also picked a handful of sweet chillies in yet another greenhouse.

After that I finally got going with the watering and after that came a few more jobs – cutting off some of the tomato foliage and tying the plants to their sticks, weeding inside the greenhouses and here I thought – how come the weeds always grow so well, even if the plants I want growing are struggling. There must be some kind of logic here but I can’t see it.

I was slowly getting round to all  the jobs I wanted to do, even managed to harvest some runner beans and other climbing beans. I wanted to make more pasta sauce, this time a mix of tomatoes, peppers and the beans. It all together made a huge potful and I have kept one portion for us for tomorrow’s lunch, the rest is already bottled in my Kilner jars. All will be very nice in the middle of the winter.

 

As the last thing in the evening I made the jam. I had more than enough so I got two Kilner jars of blackberries as well as all the jam. I’d better slow down a bit with the jam making, there isn’t much storage space left and I’m beginning to run out of empty jam jars.

There are very dark clouds overhead and I’m hoping we might get some rain at night. I think I will work in the back garden at home tomorrow, and I must catch up.

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.

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17. JULY

After a break of a few days I have decided to put down some more facts about the farm. As I mentioned before I have three plots and they contain my little shed and four greenhouses. There are also a few net cages of different sizes, all full of plants. We have to cover all our crops that pigeons might like to nibble. An easier way to do that is to grow these crops inside the net cages, much easier to harvest, weed and water. If there is a bit of space left in the cage I usually plant a few tomato plants there, they always survive and do very well. My main harvest of red tomatoes is from the greenhouses, that is no surprise but the outside ones ripen eventually.

As usual I’m growing courgettes this year but not on such great scale as before. I have found out the hard way that courgettes produce a lot of fruit – one plant can keep a family in fruit. This year I have grown yellow bush courgettes and yesterday was the first time I was able to pick some.

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I remembered that last year I made lots of courgette and tomato sauce to use with pasta. I decided to do that again, with some onions, garlic and basil. I didn’t use my tomatoes but used some tinned passata as I wanted to use it all up while it is in – date.

Because I had another good harvest of tomatoes I roasted them just with olive oil and a few sprigs of rosemary and bottled. 

The courgettes gave me four Kilner jars of the sauce and there was enough left to have it on our pasta for lunch.

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I’m lucky to have a space in the loft to store all my empty jars, be it Kilners or just jars for jam so for now I can continue. Another problem is storage space for the produce – cupboards are filling up. But I think that is not a problem, at least we shall have something wholesome to use during the winter.