Busy, busy, busy

This week has been crazy busy and I’d promised a little too much for the weekend, so no relaxing.

Work has been bonkers, including a few extra hours. It was back to school this week so early mornings for a grumpy, tired boy. At least he’s getting back into routine.

Also I promised to take him shopping, with his birthday money. Now I’m not a shopper, in fact, I think I’m the only person in the family who finds the thought of wandering around shops boring, especially window shopping. Oscar had dragged me round the shops a few weeks ago to check out things he might like and had written a list. Once his money was in and tallied he narrowed down the important things he wanted. So Saturday morning off we went to shop ’til he dropped. It was a successful visit, he got most of the things from his list, with a few discounts and some money left over. He also learnt the value of money by having to prioritise which items were important to him and deciding to go with a cheaper option to get other things or an expensive item but at the expense of something else. I know that by handing over his own cash means he will look after the items he has chosen.

One other thing I accomplished this weekend was sorting out a phone upgrade for myself and a transfer for Oscar. Although with limited time I decided to do it myself at home, the phone part was easy however re-logging into apps was a nightmare, especially as I had to do it for both of us ! (and one reason this is late being uploaded)

I had a quick couple of visits and harvests this week, and I made a leek and potato soup and filled the freezer with lots of tomatoes and french beans. The pumpkins are starting to turn orange finally. I also took a huge bag of pears into work, much to the delight of my colleagues.

I promised (before the birthday shopping event was planned) we would make a pineapple upside down cake, I tried to put him off whilst I sorted the phones out, but no ! So while the soup was simmering, I put the oven on and got everything out. Oscar weighed, measured, mixed and followed step by step the recipe. It turned out pretty well.

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Another busy week lies ahead, but the next weekend doesn’t have a lot of plans, however the allotment needs a ton of work so weather depending, the weekend will include some hard work.

 

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Back to reality

After 10 days of relaxation in the Portuguese sunshine it was back to the lovely sunshine on the allotment.

Apparently there was plenty of rain but also warmth during our 10 days away and everything has gone bonkers.

The day before we went away I harvested as much as I could, some I gave away and everything else we used, cooked and froze. So you can imagine my surprise (horror) to find 4 arm length courgettes, enough ripe tomatoes to fill 3 litre containers, 14 sweet peppers and a few handfuls of birds-eye chillies.

And that was just the start.

Finally I had a cauliflower, my first ever and 2 tender heart cabbages (that the slugs and snails haven’t munched). The leeks are growing really well too. The rhubarb has made a miraculous recovery and is better now than earlier in the year.

The beans have finally managed to establish and have plenty of flowers, I’m hoping they do better than the peas did. Also the seeds I kept from last years orange pumpkin have grown into the strangest things, all are green speckled, whilst 2 are small and round, the other 2 are oblong and huge.

The flowers have really taken off and have established well, I’m hoping plenty of them self seed for next year. The wildlife is loving the overgrowth, and we have seen lots of baby fish in both of the older established ponds. Also plenty of frogs and crickets.

 

The foxes are making themselves known around the site and are running riot with their youngsters. Thankfully they haven’t dug anywhere on my plot this year but I do have plenty of track marks where they’ve been through.

Things are growing

It’s all happening at once. It does this every year but still catches me off guard. The weather this year has been very strange so the weeds are stupidly abundant too. I’m not planning anything after this harvest in order to spend the autumn and winter trying to clear the land (again) and prepare everything for spring next year.

I’ve started planning and organising seeds and planting for next year and which new things I’d like to try.

Anyway back to this year, and now. The tomatoes are finally starting to ripen and we have had our first red tomato, well I loving brought it home so both mum and I could have a bite each (of the little cherry) except before I had chance she had popped it in and chomped the whole thing. It was delicious apparently !

The banana peppers are starting to turn yellow and a few had already dropped off, these are lovely and sweet and I have been eating them raw as a snack. The aubergine has really germinated and each plant has around 5 fruits set on them. I’m thinking this will be enough for our family and might start removing the flowers before they can set any more.

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The pumpkin has run wild and is spreading stupidly everywhere, however it has so many leaves that I don’t think the bees can see or find the flowers to help the fruit set as I’ve currently only got two small fruit, however my neighbour (who I gifted 2 plants) has small contained plants with about 4 large fruit on each !

Finally the french beans are growing and are almost at the top of the canes, they are starting to flower too so hopefully we will get a small harvest from them, which was more than I could hope earlier in the year as they kept getting attacked by birds and mice.

I’ve planted the luffa into the greenhouse and it seems happy and has put on new growth, the cucamelon is still at home but will need replanting soon as they are getting quite big although still no fruit on them yet. The sweetcorn is still very small but covered in cobs, I’m not hopeful with these as they look very strange.

The damson tree isn’t looking very healthy and doesn’t have much fruit on it, especially after last years bumper crop. I’m thinking it might need a big cut back but unsure the best way to do this. The pear tree is doing well and still covered whilst my tiny apple still has it’s one and only baby apple.

I’m going dig out all the rhubarb in October so I can split it and move to a new location which will give us extra growing space for other things.

Any advice, help, ideas and suggestions are always welcomed also any varieties or plants you think we should try for next year. Especially as we are waiting for the next round of thunder storms to arrive and another week of warm but wet and unsettled weather, so will probably have plenty of planning time this week.

Happy growing ….

Finally a harvest !

I’ve been very neglectful of the allotment over the last couple of weeks due to family issues taking priority. Apart from a quick couple of visits to make sure the greenhouse is watered everything else has been mostly left alone.

Thanks to a combination of warm/hot days and rainy days the weeds have gone bonkers, so this weekend was operation weeding, feeding and getting the early potatoes out of the ground.

I started by tidying the greenhouse and pulling out suckers, chopping off lower leaves and feeding the tomatoes and aubergines (eggplants, for our American friends) and I have my first aubergine growing ! The greenhouse is looking like a jungle, again.

Every year I say I’m going to plant a few less but they still take over and fill the space.

Next job was a quick tidy of the asparagus, raspberries, beans and pumpkin beds, and it looks like we have our first pumpkins starting to set. We only grow these to carve for halloween, and these plants came from last years pumpkin seeds.

Then it was time to finally (about 2 weeks later than it should have been) to get the Charlotte potatoes out of the ground. The foliage died off a while ago so I was hoping that the potatoes would be ok as we’ve had lots of very heavy rain this year. I spent about an hour just weeding before the digging began, and I’ll be honest the first two plants gave about 4 small potatoes so I wasn’t very optimistic. However then they got bigger and bigger. They are more like baking potatoes than new potato sized but still very usable, one of the last to be dug up was the biggest and a fairly bizarre shape, which Oscar thought was hilarious. I forgot to take the trug, and had been using my bucket for the weeds so the potatoes went into a washing up bowl and filled it. A decent crop that will make plenty of meals for us.

I pulled a couple of larger spring onions and another courgette. The peas have finished now, so I’ve left a few on the plant to dry for planting next year. I have sown more carrots (fingers crossed these grow) and some pak choi in the greenhouse to keep the pigeons off them. I’ve also got a few things growing at home from seeds we bought at Chatsworth flower show, luffa and cucamelons. Both are almost at a size to go into the greenhouse and hopefully it’s not too late to get some crops from them.

Now I’m exhausted, but things are growing and we’re eating our own crops regularly, I’ve started a list of plants and varieties to grow next year. Things I’ve enjoyed, or not and I’ll be looking at trying to get some seeds ready for the next growing season.

A busy week

Things have been very busy this week, we’ve had family issues to deal with, car problems, work and inconsistent weather so the allotment has been very neglected. Apart from a good soaking in the greenhouse on Monday I’ve not been near until today. I felt very guilty, especially when I saw the weeds, but they’ll have to wait until another day.

All I did was give everything a good water and feed the things that needed it and harvest a few bits for Sunday lunch.

However the things that made me smile with joy are the flowers, mostly bulbs and plants that I put in last year, again they’ve been a little neglected but they are all the better for it.

The wine was a gift from my plot neighbour for looking after his plot a few weeks ago whilst he was on holiday.

I hope my beautiful flowers have made you smile too.

Harvesting and Growing

Finally the rain has stopped ! woo hoo…. the sun has arrived and brought all the slugs, snails and weeds with it.

I have had to harvest all the garlic, very early as it was so wet and all the foliage was dying back very quickly, so leaving it any longer would have been a disaster and probably rotted away. It’s very mixed results, we either have small but perfectly split bulbs or single mono-bulbs. None of it is very big but at least we have saved it and will have enough to keep us going for a few months.

The onions seem to be doing fine and are bulking out well, especially the red ones, and I have finally mastered the art of growing spring onions, and we have eaten quite a few already with still plenty to go. The strawberries are fruiting and ripening faster than we can eat them, everyone (except me) is loving them, I’m loving the raspberries. These tiny plants are producing the sweetest fruit and just enough for me … sssshhh don’t tell.

I had a chat with my neighbour about the artichokes and he gave me a few to try, although I never got chance as my auntie pinched them from me ! There are still lots and he said I can help myself, as long as I leave a few for the bees. Sounds fair to me.

I’m still getting regular pickings from the rhubarb and am taking the larger radishes each time to thin them out and it seems to be working well. The potatoes are doing well and soon we will be pulling the early Charlotte’s.

Some things seem a ways behind this year, we had already had our first crop of broccoli by this time last year but this year they are only just starting to bud. Also I’m now on my fourth sowing of beans, thanks to the rain and pigeons, I’m not hopeful of any this year, which will be very disappointing as they were my favourites last year. However the peas are doing really well, the plants haven’t grown particularly tall but are covered in pods and flowers.

The greenhouse is growing well, mostly, the tomatoes are flowering and the peppers are both flowering and fruiting. I’ve gone with mainly sweet peppers this year and only two hot chilli plants, the opposite of last year. We had so many chilli plants last year that we are still using the dried chillies and will have enough to last most of this year also (and we use a fair amount), I’m not sure what is chomping on the aubergine leaves but it’s growing steadily so fingers crossed.

 

Finally, I took the plunge and put in the new pond, it’s not finished but it looks good and with a few buckets of water from an established pond has really helped to get it up and running. I’ve started planting around but need to work more on the edging and planting in the pond itself. The other ponds have plenty of wildlife, including some tiny frogs and the planting is really starting to establish and fill out. It’s looking really pretty with lots of flowers.

I hope your gardens are growing well and you are enjoying your outdoor space.

Allotment update

The weather is driving me mad ! It was so hot and sunny and I’ve had a few busy weekends so I’m trying to get to the allotment in between work hours during the week but it keeps raining, sigh, however I have discovered that I’m not the only person who allotments in the rain, it was lovely to see a friendly face and enjoy a warming cup of coffee and chat in the shed.

The tomatoes have finally perked up and after a feed have had a growth spurt as have the peppers, some even have flowers starting to appear, although the aubergine is very disappointing. I’m even debating removing it, maybe a job for next week ….

The sweetcorn has also filled out and is doing really well and now has a pumpkin friend growing, although I’m not going down the three sisters route as I’ve heard the beans can be a nuisance to the corn once they start growing up and wrapping around. I have a fixed bean frame which is currently housing a lot of very happy peas, some have even started to flower. The beans haven’t done very well, a combination of cold and slugs, hopefully they will start to shoot up once the weather warms up a little more.

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The broccoli and kale is booming, in fact it’s doing so well I’ve had to raise the netting a couple of times over the last two weeks. The leeks have settled well and have had a good weeding and look happy, as do the parsnips although I can’t say the same for the carrots. I planted three varieties in different areas but have around 10 carrots growing in total. The beets, radish, pak choi and turnips never fail and need thinning out a little and covering to avoid the dreaded pigeons eating them all !

The courgettes are starting to produce fruit, this year I’ve only planted two as I learnt the hard way last year just how many fruit they can produce. However I have made a slight error with pumpkins this year and currently have seven, yes you read that right, seven growing very happily, after I planted four seeds and nothing happened for a month, I planted another four, I didn’t get to the allotment for ten days and bingo, seven happy pumpkin plants. I’ve moved one into a space with the sweetcorn but the others I have left and they have a fair amount of space to ramble. I’m not doing butternut squash this year, thankfully.

The fruit bushes are coming along nicely, the raspberries have a few berries as do the gooseberries, they are still very young, small bushes so even a small crop is very satisfying to see. The strawberries are covered and some of them are huge, again the birds and I are fighting over these gorgeous juicy fruits. The pear tree needs to be thinned but I’m going to leave it until the end of June to see if any drop naturally. The newly planted blackberry bushes have really shot up and have had to be tied up.

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The sunflowers have gone missing again ! I noticed whilst I was there in the rain the last few days that there are a lot of slugs and I’m not very happy that the frogs aren’t doing a better job, I really don’t want to use pellets so might have to invest in a few traps.

Phil’s rose is blooming and looks beautiful. It’s still only a small rosebush but has the biggest yellow flowers with red tips. On a grey day it really stands out, like his beautiful smile always did.

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The compost area had spilled out, the front board had come loose a month or so ago and with everything needing to be planted out, it was left to it’s own devices and I finally got round to sorting it out and we had a lovely surprise underneath. Our first crop of the year, potatoes, enough to keep our family of four supplied with three meals.

My allotment is a really big space, it measures 110ft long by 15ft wide (33.5m by 4.5m), not including the shed and greenhouse so has lots of growing area, we still have two full beds covered and unused plus a smaller bed covered. I’m thinking of creating another pond area in this smaller bed as it’s at the opposite end to the others and will hopefully help with slug population down here. I’ve bought a liner to make a shallower, smaller pond than the others, no fish but hopefully plenty of other wildlife and plenty of planting around and in it. But that’s a job for another day.

I bought myself a present, a new 25m hosepipe and reel with 7 setting spray nozzle. The old one didn’t have a reel and it had also sprung a few leaks, even the repairs had leaks. I have used a long piece from the old pipe to run from the tap to the reel and then can use the new hose to cover almost the entire plot, if I need to top up the ponds or water the flower area I can use the smaller piece from the tap at the other end of the plot. It’s so much better and much easier to pack away.

My only other possible plans are to create a herb bed, as I only have thyme and rosemary at the moment. Also my neighbour has a huge artichoke plant, which has lots of globe artichokes on it. I’ve dropped a few, very subtle, hints that I’ve never eaten one, he harvests most of them but always leaves a couple for the bees. So I’m tempted to plant one, if I don’t like it then all is not lost as the wildlife will be happy.

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All the basics are covered and growing but I’m looking for suggestions for what to grow or do in these two remaining beds, approximately each about 15ft by 15ft, so a decent size.¬†What do you think, any suggestions welcomed ?