My bump in the road took the form of the (now dreaded) allotment inspections. I went to the plot yesterday to eat my lunch, as work’s been super-stressful for the past few weeks and it’s nice to get away from my desk for a few minutes. One of the men popped over and opened with the line “it was the inspections yesterday and you failed dismally”.
I hadn’t known the inspections were happening or what the criteria are so it was all a bit of a shock and not conducive to a relaxing break from work. I asked what the criteria are and it’s apparently to be 50% planted up and 100% weed free which, on a plot which six months ago was completely covered with rubbish, old car parts, broken glass, bindweed and matestail isn’t realistic I don’t think.
They’re right that one side of my plot is a disaster zone as far as weeds are concerned but I’ve made known that my plan is to focus on the right hand side this year before tackling the left, and as it’s thigh high in marestail I’m not entirely sure what can be done in the short term besides getting hold of a strimmer perhaps.
Anyway, I’ll dig up the most visible weeds at the top end and make it obvious I’m continuing to battle the weeds. The inspections are monthly so I’m hoping for no black mark next time.
Here’s a pic of the better side of the plot, complete with runner bean wigwam.
The title of this post is a slight exaggeration but two elements of today’s lunch are from the plot: yet more asparagus, and the multicoloured radishes.
Today we put up the wigwam for runner beans and I sowed some sunflowers in an attempt to add some colour to the plot.
Here’s how it’s looking st the moment (not shown: marestail forest on the left hand side of the plot).
Garlic, radishes and broad beans are all doing pretty well, while beetroot, chard, broccoli, kale and carrots are all tiny. Mange tout took a battering in the wind shortly after I planted them out so I’m hoping they recover.
A few years ago I bought one of the blueberry sticks you see in Poundland. It’s in a pot out the front of my house and over the past three years had grown but never shown any sign of giving fruit.
I read that blueberries do better when grown next to another blueberry plant of a different type so a few months ago I ordered a Bluecrop from Amazon and potted it up next to the other bush. I don’t know if it’s a coincidence but this year both blueberries are covered in promising-looking buds and flowers which I’m hoping will result in lots of fruit later in the year. So it might take a few years but it looks like £1 fruit bushes are worth a go.
I’ve just planted out my mange tout seedlings, the first plants to go into the main bed.
I’m a bit worried there was too much disturbance to their roots when I moved them so will have to see how they do.
Their supports are made from old bramble branches I found on the plot.
The garlic is still looking good!
Guess what our tea was tonight? Or our starter, at least. Asparagus! Grown on the plot!
I went down this afternoon just to water the garlic and the seeds I’ve planted recently and realised that the asparagus was growing at such an alarming rate that I needed to harvest some. I cut four spears which we’ve literally just eaten so I can tell you that they were delicious.
I didn’t harvest the giant, intimidating, biggest-asparagus-spear-I’ve-ever-seen as it isn’t quite long enough yet but it certainly has enough girth.
PS – I noticed an influx of visitors this week which I think was due to a mention from Richard on Sharpen Your Spades – thanks Richard!
I spent a while Googling to see how other people create their allotment plans. A lot of people had made really beautiful illustrations with drawings of each veg but these seem to serve more as an artwork than a practical plan which you can change as things change on the plot. I’d drawn a plan in my notebook (you can see it in this previous post) which didn’t look very inspiring and was also hard to amend as plans changed.
I decided to give Excel a try and here’s my current plan. It’s pretty satisfying making the different coloured sections for the different crops:
This only shows half my plot – I’ve left out the side which is dominated by the corrugated metal container of rubbish and felled trees.
The raised bed on the far right (close up of it from my plan is below) is the one I’ve done the most planting in so far and it already has garlic, beetroot, radishes, rainbow chard and carrots sown in it.I’ve sown the nasturtiums too but there’s no sign of them popping up so far.
My plan still seems to change every time I visit the plot though. Today I decided that the mange tout should move to the bottom end where I’ve currently planned parsnips so I’ll change that at some point.
Of course, the start of March signals seed-sowing time. It’s still a bit chilly here so I’ve started a few seeds inside and plan to move them out into the zip-up greenhouse before transferring to the plot a bit later in the spring.
Planted so far are tumbling and vine tomatoes, mangetout and various chillis. The mangetout were by far the quickest to appear, poking through the soil within five days or so. I sowed both red and yellow tumbling tomatoes but only one of the yellow seeds germinated. You only get 15 in a pack and 1/15 seems like a bit of a rubbish result but never mind. I also have the chocolate tomatoes from the Real Seed Catalogue too so fingers crossed they’ll do better.