Early this morning I spent three hours at my allotment. The sky was really blue and the sun was warm. I had almost forgotten how lovely the early morning can be when it’s like this, as we have had so much rain lately. The birds were enjoying it too, they were singing beautifully and the bees were buzzing loudly around my lavender. It was one of those times when I feel very lucky for having the privilege to care for my gardens and spend time growing vegetables for my family.
Firstly I ran my hoe around my squashes and my legumes. My pumpkins, courgette’s and patty pans are so small this year as the weather has been so unseasonably cold, but I’ve had a really good crop of peas, even though they have arrived later than normal.
Afterwards I weeded around my tomato plants and tied them to their canes. I have forty plants altogether this year which may seem excessive, but I use loads of tomatoes to make soups and passata which I use in pasta sauce, spaghetti bolognaise and chilli’s.
I grow an old variety of tomato called ‘Outdoor Girl’. I grow these in particular as they usually crop early and hopefully I get a good crop before the dreaded ‘blight’ strikes. This year, however, the tomatoes are also behind due to the weather and I’m not sure if I will get a good crop or not.
Blight is a fungal disease that can spread when the air temperature is at least 10C and there is a minimum of 11 hours with a relative humidity of at least 90%, for two consecutive days. This is referred to as a ‘Smiths Period’. It affects tomatoes and potatoes as they are from the same family. There is some good information about tomato blight on this website: http://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/factsheets/dc20.php
I then gave my tomatoes a feed of comfrey tea. Comfrey tea is a wonderful organic fertiliser which is free to make. I use it so much that I have a water butt that I use purely for comfrey tea.
Comfrey tea is high in potash as the deep roots of the Comfrey plants absorb the potassium from the subsoil. Therefore it is great for using on most fruits and flowers. I have a whole bed dedicated to comfrey plants, which I cut down three or four times during the growing season. If you are buying comfrey to grow, the experts tell you to use a variety called ‘bocking 14’ which doesn’t self-seed, however I just took a root cutting from my neighbours allotment to get me started and I didn’t have a clue which variety it was. Self-seeding has never been a problem for me as I always cut it down before it flowers. Incidentally, comfrey is also a fabulous compost activator, so you can use it to layer in your compost bin too. Also, as I had some comfrey spare I laid it between my tomatoes to act as mulch and it also helps to feed the soil as it breaks down.
To make comfrey tea all you have to do is fill a bucket with the comfrey leaves and stems and weigh it down with a brick and pour over cold water. I cover it (to stop flies getting in) and leave for approx. two weeks. Be warned, by this time the smell is revolting! Strain the comfrey tea liquid into another container and put the remaining comfrey in your compost bin. I then put 2 cups of comfrey tea into a watering can and then fill with water. I use this feed once a week after the first tomatoes begin to form.
For dinner this evening we had pork chops with the new potatoes that I dug up yesterday and homegrown carrots, swede and curly kale that I picked this morning. I also fried some mangetout in some olive oil as my youngest daughter really loves them. As it’s all my homegrown veg, the only thing I have paid for is the pork chops, so it’s another moneysaving meal.
I hope you have enjoyed reading about my day. I would love to hear any comments you may have.