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Regular readers will remember I planted out around 50 sweetcorn plants at the allotment at the end of May and today they have all been harvested. I had my reservations with the rubbish summer we’ve had that I would get any crop from them but I harvested 70 cobs which is not bad all things considered.
From the 70 there were around 10 that hadn’t germinated and a similar amount that were ‘overcooked’ as I hadn’t been to the allotment in the last 2 weeks with one thing and another. So considering the neglect on top of the weather I was very pleased with the result!
I finally got up to the allotment this morning making the most of a gap between downpours. With our holiday in France it’s about a month since I’ve been and the weeds were well on their way to swamping parts of the plot. I had the girls with me so it was a quick visit just pulling up the larger weeds particularly around the broad beans which were ready for harvesting. I couldn’t believe the amount of slugs and snails, I suppose with all the rain we’ve been having and the overgrown state of the plot it’s inevitable but it still took me by surprise as I don’t really see many on the plot at home. I think a combination of good plot hygiene and the frogs from next door’s pond provides a relatively slug and snail free environment. And any that do make it onto the plot are shown no mercy! I haven’t used pellets on the allotment but I think I will next year.
We came back from the allotment with a bag full of broad beans and a few sticks of rhubarb. The sweetcorn was doing well, a bit short but there were quite a few cobs forming. Back at home there’s plenty of soft fruit, mangetout, calabrese and brokali to keep us going with everything else poised to be ready for the end of the month. All we need now is some decent sun to warm everything up a bit!
I finally finished the allotment planting with sweetcorn which had been taking up much needed space in the greenhouse. I weeded over the last section of the plot bar a metre square area that I didn’t have time for. Then dug in some manure and then planted 60 0f them about 12 inches apart in a block. I returned later with some netting to protect them from the deer only to be offered a roll of chicken wire from a plot neighbour. On chatting to him it was obvious he’d taken pity on my pathetic attempt to keep the deer off the sweetcorn and I gladly accepted his offer and put the wire round most of the plot with only the spuds and rhubarb left unprotected.
That should keep ‘em out!
With March and April being the busiest sowing months you’d expect there to be loads of seedlings growing on at the Two Chances Plot. And you wouldn’t be wrong. Here’s a few progress photos from the three growing areas; the greenhouse, cold frames and good old windowsill.
The sweetcorn is growing on well in the greenhouse. Two varieties, Earlibird and Lark, around 40 plants destined for the allotment towards the end of May, possibly earlier with bottle cloches if I need the space in the greenhouse.
Brussel Sprouts (Bedford) hardening off in the cold frame. Around 150 plants for the shared plot, possibly a few for the Hort Soc plant sale. Even though they are one of my favourite veg I think 150 may be overdoing it a bit!
Continuing the brassica theme there’s cabbage (green ramco), calabrese (aquiles F1), brokali (apollo) and cauliflower (cornell).
I grow beetroot in modules ready to plant out. This is Boltardy and I will be sowing Pablo later.
Moving indoors, the tomatoes are going well. Goldstar, Marmande and Gardener’s Delight around 8-10 inches high.
The cucumbers (Carmen) are just starting. I’ll be devouting the greenhouse to them this year with the tomatoes outside in the mini-greenhouses for cover with the rest at the shared plot greenhouse.
Last, and defintely least, aubergines (bonica F1). After a disastrous performance last year I’ve been suckered into trying them again. No doubt only bitter disappointment will follow but that’s gardening, without failure you can’t fully appreciate your successes.
In various states of germination are french and runner beans, leeks, parsnips, courgettes, pumpkins and squash. There’s also celery, pea and onion plants in the greenhouse with lettuce growing on and more lettuce, rocket, radish and spring onions sowed. In the garden there’s potatoes, carrots, parnsips, peas, cabbage, shallots, onions and garlic growing away with PSB coming to an end. On the shared plot there’s potatoes, broad beans and onions with a few of last season’s cabbages and cauliflowers left. And the half allotment has so far been planted with more potatoes, broad beans and asparagus.
I think it’s going to be a busy year!!
It’s slow progress at the moment up at the allotment, every time I have a spare hour to nip up there it’s been raining. So far I’ve planted a few rows of potatoes and a double row of broad bean plants. But with the asparagus crowns arriving this morning I had to get up there come rain or shine and thankfully dodged the showers this afternoon.
It’s looking a bit better since I first started. From bottom to top is rhubarb – one large clump I inherited and three small crowns I put in. Then there’s the ‘soon to be gone’ weed patch – I’m planning to put sweetcorn in there. Next is the new asparagus bed – two rows of 6 plants, varieties Backlim, Darlise and Gijnlim – in 3 years time I’ll be harvesting the first full crop! Then there’s the beans and potatoes.
And today is the first time I’ve harvested from all three of my sites. Some rhubarb from the allotment, cabbage, cauliflower and parsnip from the shared plot and purple sprouting broccoli from home. It’s great to have some fresh produce at a typically sparse time of year.
Tomorrow, with the girls off to a birthday party, it’s time to get some Ramco cabbage plants in at home and get the dreaded mower and strimmer out for a long overdue garden tidy up. Maybe it’ll rain so I’ve got an excuse to put that job off for another day!
There were a few problems with the delivery of the potato mix but it finally arrived last night. So after collecting my share (5 x 75 litre bags) this morning I set about filling the fifteen 17L polypots. Half will have Kestrel and half Bonnie and the leftovers will go into bags with a sieved soil/compost mix. This is the first time I’ve used a specialist potato mix and it certainly beats all the hard work of shredding/mixing a homemade version. Time will tell if it produces some decent spuds.
At the end of one of the raised beds I dug out a trench and threw in some manure, fertiliser and slug pellets. Then placed two rows of bags side-by-side and filled in the surrounding soil so it was almost up to the level of the bags. Each bag was filled with the mix and a seed potato (with 1 or 2 strong chits) was plunged to the bottom of the bag. The idea is that the potato roots grow out through the holes into the trench with the manure and fertliser and the bag fills up with spuds. I don’t bother filling the bags as they grow; starting off with a full bag is easier! Then it’s just about the watering and supporting the haulms properly so they don’t fall over and grow as vigorously as possible producing the energy to form new tubers. That’s the theory anyway!
I’ve already got Arron Pilot, Lady Christl, Charlotte, Pink Fir Apple and Salad Blue in at the allotment and Casablanca will go into the shared plot hopefully this weekend. I also planted a double row of broad beans at the allotment and have plans for a serious amount of sweetcorn and an asparagus bed. I’m really enjoying the allotment, it was so peaceful down there yesterday and I’ve now met three of my immediate plot neighbours. It’s great to have a quick chat and share a few tips.
At last I’ve spent my first morning at the allotment after checking during the week that the previous owner had finally removed all their winter plants. Whilst I’m in no rush it was good to start making plans and get to know the site. Up in the next village the allotments are run by a charity and I’ve paid £10 for a years rent on half a plot (plot 13a). It’s not as big as a standard council plot but it’ll do me. I measured it at 30ft by 10 ft and once I square it off properly that will increase a bit. Looks like I’ve inherited a large rhubarb crown which is fine by me and I’ll add a couple more from my garden up there too. My asparagus bed will also go in when the crowns are delivered.
I did about 15 minutes weeding before my plot neighbour and Hort Soc Chairman turned up with his trailer and we shifted four loads of muck from the local stables driving over the field so we could unload right next to our plots. That will dig in nicely as I weed over the next few weeks and the more organic matter I can get in the soil the better as it looks like we may be in for a dry year.
It’s more than just the extra space though I’m looking forward to meeting my fellow allotment holders. You couldn’t ask for a more peaceful site, down the end of a village lane looking out over fields, it’s going to be a great place to spend time. Can’t wait to get stuck in! I was offered some rhubarb too before I left and just round the corner is the shared plot where I picked some brussels and lifted a couple of parsnips for dinner. What a great morning!
I was interested to read the Patient Gardener’s post on Allotment Style recently and thought I’d show you my shared plot I tend in the next village. When we grow our veg there are a few approaches we all fit into, be it the regimented straight rows, raised beds or a more cottage garden style. Well the shared plot is definitely old school, long rows, sowed and planted using a straight-line string. Plenty of cabbages, brussel sprouts etc……you get the picture! The plot is actually the garden of an 84 year-old friend of mine and has been done this way for around 80 years, by his father at first and then, over the last 60-70 years, he has taken over. You don’t argue with that sort of experience so straight lines it is then. There’s no raised beds, no soil brought in, we’re growing on stony chalky ground and doing very well. When I first started I was raking all the stones away, some quite large lumps of flint, as I would do at home, only to be told I was wasting my time and would just end up with a pile of stones to shift with more appearing at the surface on a daily basis. So I stopped worrying about it and got on with sowing and planting. Two things I learnt is you can grow veg with loads of stones in the ground and veg will also grow even if it’s a bit weedy. This plot doesn’t get the daily attention I give my raised beds at home which are pretty much stone and weed free. The veg has to fend for itself a bit more but returns are still good. Below is a photo of most of the plot, 2/3rds is on a slope with the other 1/3 to the left of the path on the flat. There’s brassicas, beans, spuds, onions and shallots mainly and I’m using the extra space for squash and sweetcorn.
Quite different from my own beds at home.
Whatever approach you take there are pros and cons but whatever you do at this time of year there will be plenty of veg to eat. Have a great weekend everyone!
Rather than dig up any more of the garden which Rach and the girls wouldn’t be particularly happy about I am hoping to expand the Two Chances Empire in couple of new directions. One is a possible plot share with a local chap who I’m being put in touch with. And I have just put my name down on the allotment waiting list. This site is in the next village and is quite small, between 30 and 40 plots but I’m hoping it won’t be too long before I get a chance at a half plot. It’s in a great setting, down a quiet country lane with no fences and great views:
Just up the lane from the allotments is Bentley Wood and we went for a lovely walk in the snow (I know there’s no snow in this picture but there was plenty out of the trees).
And finally I managed to snap the friendly Robin through the kitchen window. He’s a regular visitor to our bird table.