It has been a while since I have made a chutney from my surplus crops. This has been due to the fact that the past two years have really not been that productive. This year has been very different indeed. Although some fruit and veg have still not produced as well as in previous seasons, I have had a bumper crop of tomatoes; so it’s time for Christmas chutney making.
I’ve grown a number of different tomato varieties this year. As per previous chutney’s that I have made, I am including a bowl of dates, raisins, two cayenne chillies for a little bit of after-heat taste, two bell peppers, muscovado sugar, fresh rosemary, two small tea spoons of mustard, red and white onions, and a bottle of malt vinegar. This is all cooked down for three hours and carefully deposited into oven-hot glass jars. The sharp vinegar taste will disappear completely after these have matured for a couple of Months, and will be grand on the table at Christmas. I will as ever, keep aside a jar for the final day of the course fishing season on the 14th March 2020. I can’t wait to try it now with a slab of cheese, or even better a good quality pork pie, but one must wait.
Although I have had several disasters, notably with broccoli and a number of my fruit crops, this year has been great for onions.
As always I had planted “Sturon” and Red Barron as my main crops which did ok. but I also planted “Ailsa Craig” which did very well indeed. I again planted seeds in November of my giant onions, and by August I had a 4lb 7oz’er. I left one in the ground for a few more weeks and lifted it at the weight of 5lb 10oz, not a show-winner, but it is my best yet.
All of a sudden it is Spring again. Although the 20th of March marks the formal start of Spring, it has actually arrived in many forms days and weeks ago. All the Spring flowers are in bloom, and the Blackbird has been serenading for some time now.
I don’t usually plant anything so soon in the growing year, but it has been so mild, and with the warmth to continue I began planting the Onions and Garlic I purchased back in February. One hundred “Red Barron” and two hundred “Sturon” have now been set, along with Garlic, Radish, Carrots, Chard and Beetroot. I have never really had much luck with carrots, but am trying two varieties this season so we will see how they fair. My Rhubarb always does well, and this season is no exception; its off to a flying start.
The 20th of March this year is especially significant as not only does it mark the beginning of Spring, but it is also a full moon. Not only this, but it is a “Supermoon” – a very rare occurrence co-inciding with the beginning of Spring. This particular moon at this time of year is also known as a “Worm” Moon as it signifies the emergence of worms in the soil. The last time this co-incided with Spring was back in 1905!
Looking back I realise that I have not written a post on the old allotment for ages, and being such a nice day today, I have decided it’s about time I wrote one now. The warming sun bringing early hope for the coming spring. Blackbirds are now more evident in the garden; although still a little early to hear their song which I look forward to hearing every year.
I left the allotment baron last year, so the soil really has had a rest. Quality of potatoes and other veg had seemed to have taken a down-turn in previous years, even though organic fertilisers were dug-in.
I had forgotten all about a soil testing kit that I was given some years ago. I had done a few soil tests previously to try it out, but discounted the results, from what I have read they are not very accurate anyway. Coming back to it this year, I carried out a number of tests with both dry and wet soil, from different depths, and from all over the allotment, and found some interesting results.
It turns out that the soil in the fruit raised beds has a PH around 7, being a light shade of green on the tester. However, the soil from the vegetable raised beds is very, very dark green indicating a PH of at least 8. This is too high for what I grow here, and should, like the fruit section be around PH 7. Doing a little research, I learn that the soils PH can be adjusted over time. I know that other allotmenteers annually ‘lime’ their soil, but this would push my soils PH up even further. I learn that Sulphur is the answer to make your soil more acidic.
I’ve dug-in and watered-in seven of the smaller raised beds, and one of the larger ones. I have no idea if the quantity of sulphur applied has been correct? I fear it is too little, but In around three months or so, I will carry out a few more soil tests to see if this has been successful, and will only know if whatever I plant here grows well this year and provides better crops.
It’s a bit early in the year for me to buy my onion sets. I was at my local garden centre recently I could not resist picking up a bag of white and a bag of red.
As usual, I am going to grow “Sturon“, a variety that always does well for me and for my reds, I am going to grow good old “Red Barron“, a variety that others struggle with on our allotment soil, but I seem to do ok with them, and they are great store’s.
I have not grown garlic for a few years now so am going to give it a go this year with a soft neck, mild flavour variety called “Arno“.
Although it is a spring-like day today, I am not planting these until the ground really does warm up a bit, at least not until the end of March. Until then, they will bide their time in the warmth of the greenhouse.