And meanwhile in the polytunnel…

I have a small polytunnel where I hoped to sprout  seeds, pot on and take cuttings as well as grow fantastic tomatoes, Chillies and other less hardy veg.

This year has been the first full year of production. Apart from taking off, blowing over a 6 ft fence and landing in my neighbour’s garden the polytunnel has been very well-behaved.

Over the summer it has been full of ripening tomatoes of various shapes and size and some great chillies.

Tomatoes and chillies - still in use in November

I have made a lot of tomato pasta sauce with onions, sweated down in lots of olive oil, garlic and the tomatoes chopped and reduced to a thick sauce with fresh thyme added to some pots for good measure. All this was sealed in hot sterilised jars and should keep for the winter.

The problems have stated in November. When mice got a taste for chillies and have stripped most of the slower plants which were just ripening off. Such a shame.  I am sorry to say  that so far the traps have accounted for 7 of the pests, sorry they cannot go in the pot- they will be highly spicy.

To add to the problems  there are a number of worn patches in the cover and although tape seems to do the trick, it won’t be long before the cover is mostly tape.  One year does not really seem long enough for it to last.

I hope to use the polytunnel over the winter with extra insulation from bubble wrap to bring on some winter veg. Lets hope it does not disintegrate before the spring.

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A look back from a hot November

The allotment has been hard work this autumn. The combination of warmth and wet has really benefitted the weeds and the slugs. Other problems have included the dreaded Onion fly which caused my lovingly grown leeks to ‘melt’ . I managed to save the white tips and have stir -fried these and frozen for later use.

Leeks damaged by onion fly larvae

An onion fly larva about 8mm long

Mid October gave me a chance to plant my garlic,  sprouts and asian walking onions ( grown from seeds) into the allotment. It took until mid November for me to find the time to plant the onion sets ( by which time some had started to sprout). Does ‘chitting’ onions help or hinder the final crop?

Halloween brough the best crop of pumpkins and squash I have ever had , most are in store and being slowly used for soup. I like to roast them in segments with olive oil and dry chilli flakes  then scrape out the flesh into some softened onions, add stock or water and this year I am adding the borlotti and french beans that have been podded and boiled until tender.  Really hearty and tasty.

One of the many great pumpkins

Another wonderful squash - Turban squash

The beans – about 5kg were harvested from the last of the bean pods

Borlotti and french beans- for beefing up the soup

The largest pumpkin was selected by my son for Halloween creative carving  many visiting ghouls and witches were impressed!

Home grown Halloween pumpkin

While all this spooky work was going on my new sprout plants were devastated by slugs  and so we will have to have cabbage for Christmas.

Buckingham Nurseries have kindly replaced the Medlar tree which died last year so I have planted this out, carefully following the instructions and hope that it can establish itself as well as the quince tree has done.   Otter Farm has sent through my Szechuan pepper  tree. I am looking forward to seeing it seed over the next few years.

For reference here are the plans for the allotment in 2011 20a sits next to 20b to make a nice rectangular patch with a path down the middle.

Plot 20 A plan 2011

Plot 20B plan 2011

Now on with the weeding……