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So it has been some time since I last wrote an update for my lotti but here goes. . . . . . . . .

This year as usual I planted out my garlic around the winter solstice. The garlic was bought from the Organic Gardener’s catalogue. When harvested around the summer solstice it was disappointing to see that for the first time the garlic has produce tiny wee bulbs. Still edible of course but a real pain to peel. The potatoes I planted on the other hand were possibly the best I have ever done in terms of taste, Maris Piper. The are good for everything, boiled, roasted etc. I now have a box of them in the shed which is cool and dark and am yet to harvest the rest.

Broad beans did well but french beans were heavily munched  by slugs and I ended up not harvesting any of them.

Autumn rasps being in their 3rd year have started to produce good bunches of rasps but the are not very big. I have been munching and picking tho and have frozen some for making Sylabub in the not to distant future . . . .

On another note, this year i took over half of a friend’s polytunnel. It was full of weeds, nettles and willow herb and needed quite a clear out. I took over one side of the poly and got Gardener’s Delight tomato plants ready.

Inside Carmen's polytunnel

I planted around 10 tomato plants down one side of the poly and companion planted a row of Marigolds around the bottom of them. Tomato plants need a bit of attention through their growth to keep picking out the side shoots, however sometime they grow back in again. They grew incredably well, in fact I have never seen tomato plants grow vigourously! Even with all the pricking out of the side shoots and removing lower leaves they grew so tall and wild, they broke their supports! I had to tie them to some cross bars and twist them round the bars, chop bits off the top of the plant in an attempt to ‘tame’ them.  I also heard somewhere that banana skins helped the tomatoes rippen. So with the help of some of my work colleagues I collected and put about 20 banana skins around the base of the plants.

I now have a bit of a glut of tomatoes so am wondering if I can freeze them and once enough have ripened I can convert them into tomato relish/chutney ?

Still with plenty of space to plant I also for the first time successfully grew an abundance of basil. The basil grew well with enough to make a few pots of pesto and some for the freezer. Basil freezes well, just cut plant, pop it in a bag and put it in the freezer. Once frozen crush the bag and you have perfectly chopped basil.

I also put some kale in the poly in the hope that the white butterfly would not get to it in there. The kale also grew extemely well, it has been harvested throughout the summer and is still producing fresh leaves.  Kale is great if you shred the leaves, rub a bit of sesame oil and Thai spices into it, pop it in the over until crispy.

Kale plant in Carmen's polytunnel

Lastly, this year I germinated and successfully grew Cape Gooseberries. I put 2 in pots in the garden and 2 in a pot in the poly. No great difference between the different plants other than the ones in the poly grew taller. The ones in the garden did get attacked by slugs and this perhaps stunted their growth. All plants started to produce fruit and I have now moved them all in the poly as I think they would prefer a bit of lasting heat. I will keep them in there over the winter. I read that they like impoverished soil and that they will give you 3yrs +  of fruiting. I am thinking that I may pop them straight into the soil in the poly although I suspect the soil in the poly is not impoverished given the epic growth of the tomatoe plants.



I am looking back considering when i first became interested in gardening. I remember as a child watching gardening programs with Percy Thrower, somehow that and show jumping were my two fave telly pastimes, even though we lived in a tenement block and never had a garden or a horse for that matter! It took until when I was in my 30's and moved into the country that my passion for gardens surfaced fully. Now I just love having a go at a haphazard approach to gardening. I am new to allotment keeping and am starting from scratch, no real plan other than trying to grow the things that I like so am just getting a few beds together and allowing it to develop and evolve over time, am playing at it really . . . . . . .

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