New allotment year

It is the beginning of the new growing year but like most people we are way behind due to the harsh winter. I always feel so fed up in the winter..itching to get going on the new year.To me the spring and the start is better than the summer.The first signs of life just inspires! One day there is just bare ground the next small signs of life getting going again. At the moment it looks a bare site but give it a few weeks and it will be chock a block with greenery .  The other lovely site is that of  the new allotment owners just starting out , so excited at the prospect of growing their own vegetables and fruit. Sadly though there are a few that fall by the wayside as they don’t expect it to be so daunting. My advice from my own experience is a little at a time.I f they can clear and dig just a small bit of ground at first and get that planted it will maybe inspire to do the rest.Already planted and doing fine is the garlic , broad beans and some new strawberry plants. They all seem to have established themselves and we had our first “proper” week-end there although we have battled our way to dig the two allotments over ready in all weathers.

We are now in our eighth year and it gets better every year  (but so does the hungry wild life).Everything now has to be netted because of more deer , more pigeons and more pheasants. We are quite lucky compared to some allotment owners as they seemed to have had their fill by the time they reach our side.The animals are wonderful to see but do they have to be so greedy ?

The things that should be planted now are broad beans , garlic , onion sets and by next weekend hopefully potatoes although the weather forecast does not look so kind for Easter.

To be planted or started off  in the next few weeks are in my opinion……

Tomato, peppers, chillies, beans, basil, parsley, aubergines, melons, cucumbers, spinach, chard, most herbs, gherkins, lambs lettuce, lettuce, chicory, beetroot, carrots, parsnips, onions, courgettes, pumpkins, squash, kohl rabi, broad beans, sugar snaps, peas, corn,

Remember that you don’t want a thousand lettuce all at once for instance so stagger them a bit.

If you have not got an allotment or large garden use any old tubs you can find and grow in there and use up every single bit of space..Buckets , crates boxes.Depending on the depth you can grow most things..What about vegetables in your flower beds? some of the coloured lettuces can look so can carrot tops!

Don’t forget the herbs !

Sunday 11th April

At last!  We have been playing catch up and over the weekend we have been planting potatoes and onions . The weather was just glorious on the Saturday and it was a treat to be up amongst it all.As we have two allotments one is devoted to these two vegetables. They tend to last us most of the year . We are late this year due to the harsher winter but I think we are roughly up to date.

The potatoes we grow are earlies like Swift , Anya and Charlotte and the main crop are Picasso a good “all rounder ” and Pink fir apple which are my favourite . I always thought they were a fairly new strain but now know that they go back to Victorian times. They are more like a salad potato and grow like knobbly clumps similar to ginger…I can honestly say that if we plant our potatoes now , if we store them in the garage hanging in sacks they will keep all year , only now are the remainder from last year  beginning to sprout , but still eatable.

Saturday 24th April

It is now two weeks since we planted the potatoes and we have not had a drop of rain , So of course being one of the first rules of good gardening don’t lose the poor things ! I am going to be watering away with the hose this morning.It mught seem a bit drastic but we do reap what we sow and care for. After such a bad winter I reckon ( and I am no expert ) that we are going to have a long hot , dry summer so the although we need sunshine we also need water.

Bean planting

I am also planting a lot of my borlotti , butter and Cherokee beans . They have been in my green house in modules and are good and strong. It might seem a bit soon to be planting out but we are away for a week (volcanic ash permitting) in two weeks time and it would be nice if some of them were well established before we went. I just love the colour of the beans when they are growing especially the borlotti as they have wonderful scarlet streaked pods and the bigger they get the deeper the colour.It is just a shame that the colour does not continue through when cooked. Cherokee beans are smaller and black but they are prolific and so sweet.I discovered them a few years ago and have grown them ever since . If you don’t want to dry beans to save for cooking later in the year  they all freeze very well.You just needed to blanch them for a minute or so and dump in cold water to cool quickly and to reserve their colour and freeze in strong bags or boxes.


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