Well here we are in October, the growing season is more or less finished bar a few things that can be grown over the Autumn / Winter months, and as I write this rain of biblical proportions is falling and it's dark at 2 PM in the afternoon.
What a strange year it's been, in March I had just got back from France when we went into lockdown, a bizarre experience, toilet rolls became as rare as Unicorns and milk was impossible to get hold of, pasta was bought by the bucket load and everything that came through the letterbox was doused with anti bacterial spray.
Hands were washed until raw, everyone was a possible carrier and walking (a rare treat) meant taking a wide berth when somebody was coming towards you, not everyone observed this and a few runners managed to get close to me whilst puffing and panting, which pissed me off somewhat.
People fell into two distinct camps, those who would willingly move to one side to keep a distance and those who were like a train on a track from which they couldn't deviate, either not seeing you or at least pretending they didn't.
March for me is usually a time to look forward and start to think about what I'm going to plant and the days drawing out just that tiny bit longer day by day, trips to the garden centre to stock up on compost (peat free), and get canes and stuff ready for the growing season.
This posed a problem as most garden centres were closed and most people would have been too scared to use them even if they had been open including myself. Luckily I had a good stock of seeds and managed to find a garden centre that took orders on the web and delivered to my door.
I managed to get hold of some tiny tomato plants and two chilli plants, I got the tomatoes planted out into compost in buckets which is how I usually grow them.
My conservatory gradually became full of small pots with seedlings growing by the day, | was really pleased when the melon seeds germinated, along with the aubergine seeds, this time I wanted to actually end up with some edible ones.
Those little plants grew well and with the hot weather that came in the Summer I ended up with lots of lovely toms.
Back in March I didn't know how much the allotment was going to turn out to be very important in staying sane over the coming months, being able to get out and talk to people was going to become so important.
I This year I wanted to grow some things that I'd tried last year but which hadn't quite worked out, aubergines being one, they had formed but had never grown into a usable size, but I also wanted to try some new things.
Someone at the allotment had told me they had grown melons successfully and the chap on the plot next to mine had given me cucumbers last year which gave me the idea to try and grow some myself.
I had never grown peas before so this was something else to give a go, so on my rather ambitious list for 2020 were -
My plot is a tale of two halves, the top end is very heavy clay soil, the other end is a lighter soil but very stony, my shed was taking up quite a lot of room at the stony end and was in a sorry state so it came down. I could then use the bit where the shed had been to grow more stuff.
The boards which mark the border of the plot were all pretty much rotten, so I took the opportunity to take these all up and replace them with new ones, and so after some digging the plot was ready to grow stuff as soon as the seedlings were a bit more mature. The ground was still relatively cold so I needed this to warm up a bit as well, a bit like a kid waiting for Christmas.
For the last three years I have had a few empty plots near me, not that I mind to be honest I enjoy the solitude sometimes and I can always wander down and have a natter with some of my fellow plot holders.
This year was different because people had cottoned on to the fact that a plot was going to give them at least an element of freedom and all the empty plots were snapped up.
And so I had lots of new neighbours who set about their new plots with gusto, one young couple employed a gardening company to clear their plot which was admittedly like the Borneo jungle.
Others did it the hard way digging and clearing all the weeds, some bought their children which livened the place up a bit, there were barbebcues, a very pleasant vibe developed from a pretty horrible general situation.
Some of the newcomers were asking me for tips and I passed on what little know how I have accumulated, which is not a whole lot, we were swapping plants we had too many of, the allotment really was helping me get through these strange times.
The weeks passed and my melon seedings had progressed well in the conservatory and I had high hopes. Growing is a learning process and this year I was going to learn a lesson on how germination takes place with melons.
The melon plant needs the bees to move between the flowers so germination can take place, unfortunately I left the plants in the conservatory perhaps a month too long, so the bees couldn't get at them.
Once I did put them out into the garden I watched the bees settle on the flowers and just hoped I hadn't left things too late, lesson well and truly learnt.
On the large Oak tree near my plot is a bird box, early in the year I always watch to see if the box is being used, this year I didn't see any activity but last year I spent quite a time watching the parent birds flying back and forth with food for the fledglings.
Once the soil had warmed a bit I put in some peas, when they popped through I was delighted and I built a support for them to climb up, but something or rather somethings were about to intervene in my quest for fresh peas for dinner.
Pigeons seemed to have multiplied and they descended on the young pea shoots and proceeding to feast on them, yes I know I should have netted them but I didn't and so they were mercilessly ravaged.
Miraculously they seemed to recover slightly and I did get a few peas, not many but what | did get were nice, so all in all I considered that a result of sorts and a lesson to me to protect the young shoots next year.
The Chard I planted seemed to flourish and I ended up with quite a lot, Chard has such vivid colours, it's a joy to look at.
My melon mishap didn't turn out so badly, from this baby I got one reasonably sized and very tasty orange fleshed melon.
I also ended up with two cucumbers, which I was particularly pleased with, eaten along with my home grown tomatoes.
I even managed a few Peppers, they did seem to take a long time to grow but we got there in the end.
Something did take a liking to my Sweetcorn, well and truly nibbled.
Meanwhile in the garden.