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.

12. JULY

The weather was a bit different today, overcast and a bit cooler. But as the morning progressed it was back to hot and oppressive even though the sun didn’t come out. I decided yesterday that I would try and pick a lot of raspberries and harvest my red tomatoes. I’m pleased to say I  managed to do both things.

This is my third batch of raspberry jam but the fruit is so good it would be a shame not to make it. This jam seems to be the most popular and it makes very good presents.

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After lunch I put the tomatoes in my large roasting dish with a few cloves of garlic and a good glug of olive oil and after a while in the oven it was ready. It filled two Kilner jars and after sterilising  15 minutes in a water bath it was done. Starting my winter supply of chopped tomatoes, they are so much better than shop bought tins.

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11. JULY

Phew, what a scorcher!

Yesterday I went to the allotment quite early in the morning and just picked some more raspberries and fixed nets over the greenhouse doors. The idea is that the door itself will stay open and the net door will stop any creatures from getting in. It was very successful last year so I fixed it there again this year. I’m glad I did it, the temperature is around 30 degrees.

Today was another early start, this time I wanted to tidy my large net cage, harvest the peas and sort out the few tomato plants that I put in the middle there – they couldn’t be planted anywhere else, there was no room in the greenhouses. I’m happy with the tomatoes, I will have some fruit on them.

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These are the climbing peas, they are climbing on the netting in the cage and are quite easy to remove after they finished, they don’t damage the net.

Tomorrow will be another hot day so another early start, this time harvesting my tomatoes. They are turning red, there is a good mixture of them some new ones for me like Speckled Roman….

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The others are a mix of plum ones and the usual round ones. I’m sure putting the banana skins underneath has helped with the ripening.

There are some huge green ones in there, ready to ripen…

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I had to put a lid under, they were so heavy they rested on the soil.

6. JULY

The afternoon work session started as usual, greenhouses opening, picking some raspberries and hoping that I will finally get some weeding done. I did actually clear one of my net cages when Simon , who was watering his grapevines, called out – come and have a look! I couldn’t believe my eyes, there was another swarm of bees in one of our trees.

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I find them fascinating, how they manage to hang there like this, just quietly pulsating and changing places. I phoned Wayne and he came to have a look. He wasn’t sure if these were his bees or if they came from somewhere else. Either way the fact that we have a number of hives on the site is  quite obviously good for the fruit trees and bushes. My fruit trees are laden with fruit – I know, it could be a combination of factors but the bees are helping a great deal. All this supports the efforts we make not to use any weedkillers or sprays, anything that may harm them. We must make more effort to protect them because without bees we wouldn’t survive very long.

5. JULY

The plan for today was to do more weeding in two of my net cages where I planted the blackcurrants. First of all I had to follow the usual routine – open all my greenhouses and then start working. I had a very pleasant surprise in one of them – my very first red tomato.

The cucumber and radishes were in another greenhouse but I had to pick them to add to our evening green salad. I still  have some lettuce in the greenhouse, one is more than enough for the two of us.

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My plan for tomorrow’s lunch is new potatoes, broccoli and oven baked fish. The potatoes are very tasty and they were nothing special,  just what we had left from last year’s harvest.

I will certainly grow the broccoli again next year, this is the third picking – the little rosettes grow quite fast and soon are ready to harvest.

Of course there were more raspberries, I only picked this one box. I haven’t got any sugar to  make jam, this will  be just for us two to have as a desert.

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I am amazed how many raspberries I have this year, I’m sure this is thanks to the bees we have on the allotment now, thanks to Mary and Wayne.

3. JULY

It was a brighter morning today and the plan was to get to the allotment as soon as I could. A little job was to be done in the back garden – some of the long branches on the mulberry tree have almost broken off so I had to saw them off. That done, I went to my farm. This time I remembered to take a before photo so I  could compare it later. What a difference a couple of hours can make.

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I can’t believe how quickly the weeds can grow, if only everything grew this well. After some hard work the same patch looks quite good and I had a large bucket full of weeds.

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Now the sweetcorn has a bit more room and can grow better.

2. JULY

The weather forecasters have got it slightly wrong for our area, the map showed the belt of showers further up north. It started drizzling here after breakfast and continued till the early afternoon. Around three in the afternoon it stopped so I put on my waterproof jacket and went to the allotment. I didn’t want to do a lot, just to see how things were there and perhaps pick some raspberries and currants. I  managed to do all that and got home dry. I wanted to try another recipe using fruit from my farm and thanks to my friend in Allotment Haven I have got just the thing. My blackcurrants aren’t ready as yet so I used red and white currants. The resulting cake smells delicious and looks great. Frank will be the judge of it tomorrow.

Yesterday was another busy day on the farm and in the end I was just too tired to write it all up. I did a lot of weeding in the orchard – again! and picked over two kilo of raspberries so of course I just had to make more jam. It would be a shame not to, this jam is so tasty. The tomatoes in the greenhouse are doing very well, I have removed the bottom leaves so there is a flow of air around them and they are in full sun.

Everything is growing well, the lettuce in one of the greenhouses is amazing, really big and very tasty.

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I have used it to make a big green salad – I throw everything and anything in – chopped hard boiled eggs, Feta cheese, olives, capers and then just stir in my dressing made with olive oil, wholegrain mustard, balsamic vinegar and a little drizzle of honey.

25. JUNE

When I went to the allotment last time I noticed that some raspberries were turning pink. I knew it would be just a few days before another harvest would begin. I was correct. I think I had the last of the strawberries, I had only a small box so when I finished I took the nets off, leaving the beds exposed for the birds to help themselves.

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The loganberries are getting going as well but I’m not going to use them to  make jam, we’ll eat them as I pick them. They are delicious, we have them on our porridge or even as a topping on a sponge tray bake.

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Finally it was the raspberries’ turn.

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The final result was two kilo of the delicious berries and by the evening I had another lot of jam ready.

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20. JUNE

Today was going to be a harvesting day and I’m very pleased with the result. I have a little routine when I get to my allotment. First I open my four greenhouses to get some fresh air in, perhaps water the plants if it looks like a hot day ahead and then start the real tasks I had in mind. This was exactly what happened in the morning. As soon as the greenhouses were done I started harvesting the currants, red and white ones. Both bushes are in the fruit cage, safe from thieving birds so I don’t have to hurry picking the fruit. I picked two large boxes of the red currants and one of the white ones. I already had a big bowl of gooseberries at home, they were from yesterday. I always try to thin the fruit on the bushes so in the end I get some nice large gooseberries. This took most of the morning and I was quite glad to lock up and go home.

Picking the fruit was one task, the next one was removing the stalks and weighing it ready for jam  making. In the end I have a lovely lot of red currant and gooseberry jam, the white currants are so delicately flavoured I don’t make anything out of them just freeze them loose, put in a freezer bag to be enjoyed in the winter.