Increasing Allotment Security

Security Surgery

Our site rep, Lawrence, and I inspected the fence. His grandson had demonstrated it took 10 seconds to get up the tree and over the fence by the gate. So we lopped off the overhanging branch. It will not harm the tree but should help make things more difficult for the intruders.

We looked at a few other week points and decided a nice hedge would help keep things private, more attractive and hinder entry over the fence. Our plant of choice is pyracantha (Rosaceae Pyracantha coccinea)

It’s common name is Scarlet Firethorn and it is a member of the rose family.

Being vigorous, it will spread well and whilst the flowers are not much to speak of, the berries are very attractive and encourage wildlife. The thorns are incredibly vicious, not that that has any bearing on our choice.

Weather Goes cold

It’s really changed and tonight they are predicting a low of 3?C only a few days ago I was in a light T shirt and today it was a flannel shirt and gilet. In the sunshine I was too warm but when a cloud passed I was zipping up the gilet and shivering.

Fearing my green tomatoes may not ripen I decided it was time for action. The growhouse tomatoes, both on the plot and in the home garden, had their leaves cut off. This will eliminate shading and assist ripening. The fronts were zipped back up. Of 4 growhouses only one is going to be usable next year. Although they are cheap to buy they don’t last long. I’m definately keeping my eye open for a greenhouse for the plot. Bigger the better.

Anyway, I digress so back to the plot. The plum tomatoes are pretty exposed so I moved the onion drying frame come anti-pigeon defence system over one end and using the discarded bases of chairs and bamboo canes created a frame over them. Over this I draped horticultural fleece and weighed it down with 4 pint milk containers filled with water. All the benefits of a brick without the rough edges to tear the fleece.

Draping a 17′ by 10′ sheet of light horticultural fleece in  windy conditions took some time and a few choice words to accomplish.

Maincrop Potatoes Harvest

It’s time to start getting the potatoes up. I planted two cultivars, Sarpo Mira and Valor back in the first week of May. The Sarpo are supposed to be a bit of a wonder spud and Valor have a good reputation for blight resistance. There doesn’t seem to have been much blight about this year so not a real test for them.

The other mainfactors I want to compare are slug resistance, yield and, of course, flavour.

I started by cutting down the haulm. The Sarpo has a huge amount of foliage, which is still looking well and even has a few flowers on it. The Valor’s foliage, in contrast, has gone over.

Cutting a little less than a third of the bed down managed to raise the compost heap to six feet high! The Sarpo have a red skin with small yellowish spots. I gathered a few that were on the surface. The dense haulm has prevented light causing the exposed potatoes to green but has been a slug haven Most of them had a small hole here and there and a couple were well nibbled.

Having said that, I need to start digging them up to really assess the overall quality and the usable yield.

A dark cloud came over and it felt like mid-winter so returned home.

More Tomatoes and Peppers too

After a break and a cup of tea, time to start again. We blanched and froze a few dozen peppers. One of the plants in the greenhouse had broken under the weight of fruit but the peppers had happily changed colour in the garage. Unfortunately they were going very soft so we need to get them into store.

Then we turned about 6 lbs of tomatoes into a tomato puree and after using some in our dinner (a rissotto) along with a couple of peppers, froze them as well. It’s amazing how much less space tomatoes take when processed.

Last year we just popped them into bags and froze them. When thawed, the skins came off easily and they were fine for cooking. This year we are really stuck for space. All three freezers are pretty full. We have a fridge freezer in the kitchen with 3 drawers, a tall freezer in the garage with 6 drawers and a small chest freezerin the spare bedroom.

My sister offered us a large chest freezer but we have nowhere to put it and anyway, one years supply in stock should be enough.

New Pictures

I uploaded some new pictures from the grand allotment tour up – you can see them here. Tomorrow I’ll take the camera to the plot and take some shots of the potatoes coming up.

In the immortal words of that famous diarist, Samuel Pepys ‘and so to bed’

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