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Preparing for Winter, Tomato Flood

Winter is Coming

Just to be clear, I’m not talking Game of Thrones now! I’m pretty sure we don’t get the frozen undead here in Wales. Then again, thinking about some folks…

Anyway, I’ve got a feeling we may have a cold winter coming and I’d like to be ready for it. I really hope we do get a cold winter as it will reduce the slugs and snails. This year has certainly been the year of the snail. The other evening we picked over 20 snails off the front wall of the house.

My neighbours kindly dropped off a load of pallets ages ago and the ones where I can’t get the planks off intact will end up on the woodburner. The reciprocal saw makes short work of cutting them up, then into the wood store.

Free pallet wood makes great kindling and the thick support beams burn well but there is a problem; the nails. The answer is not to bother pulling them all out which takes ages. Just leave them and then run a magnet over the ashes to pull them out.

Wood ashes are a potash rich and a bit limey so they make a great fertiliser for woody bushes and trees, especially on acid soils. Best applied in the spring as they go into the ground quickly and the plants can make best use of them.

Since we make most of our wood ashes in winter when the fire is going, I store them in the shed in a bin.

Jams & Preserves

Val’s been working away on the preserves – 17 jars blackcurrant jelly, 7 jars of Victoria plum jam and 3 jars of grape jelly in the last few days. It’s a mystery to me how she looks at a recipe and then tweaks it – usually it’s the third batch that she declares a success. I thought the first one tasted fine!

Jams Chutneys in Store Cupboard

Jams and Chutneys in the Store Cupboard


The trickle of tomatoes from the greenhouse has turned into a flood. It’s not been a good year for tomatoes, ideally they need a Mediterranean summer – not a Welsh summer.

If we lived in the south east of England, I think I’d usually grow tomatoes outdoors but outside of that area, a greenhouse is by far the safer bet. I had a little success with outdoor growing tomatoes when we lived in Crewe but it was very hit and miss.

Anyway, we’re enjoying sungold, black opal, striped stuffer and ailsa craig. The grandson loves sungold and why not? They’re as sweet as candy. The black opal are delicious as a tomato salad; sliced, sprinkled with a little salt and drizzled in a garlic infused oil.

Good old ailsa craig goes well sliced in sandwiches, fried or roasted and makes a great soup. The striped stuffer is a very firm tomato but not quite as acid as ailsa craig – good none the less.

Tomatoes Peppers

Black Opal, Sungold and a couple of Striped Stuffers with some peppers behind


The peppers seemed to ripen overnight – one day they were all green and the next red and yellow. Another versatile vegetable (or are they a fruit?), cooked or raw. Quite what Val will do with them all, I don’t know. But she’ll work something out.

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary

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