As John has dug the plot over down to the bottom end, I’ve been following along behind him and planting the crops out. The leeks and the purple sprouting broccoli are the last two crops to go in, and luckily there’s just enough space to get these in before you get to the strawberries and fruit trees. Every year I have a minor panic that I won’t have enough space for everything (despite having a full 10 poles worth of space) and then I think I might have too much space and worry that I haven’t grown enough to fill it, but then somehow, it always seems to work out just perfectly. You’d think I’d planned it that way, and I’d like you to believe that, but I really just fluke it!
It’s a very satisfying thing when the plot is completely full. Though you can’t lean on your fork admiring it for too long, the work is by no means done. This is just the point when you have a full set of plates spinning on top of poles, and your job now is to keep them all going and not let any fall and smash on the floor. So, you weed and tidy one section and feel quite pleased, until you realise that another section also needs doing, and then another, and by the time you’re done, the first section you weeded has disappeared under a mass of bindweed and stinging nettles 3 foot high. It sometimes feels like sweeping leaves on a windy day, or one of those fairground games where you bash a pop-up shape with a mallet, only for another to pop up straight after. There are times when you wonder ‘why did I take this on? Oh yes, that’s right, it’s a lifestyle choice and it’s for relaxation and enjoyment! Of course, silly me.’ But then I don’t get the futility of chasing a small white ball around a golf course, or running on a treadmill, so each to their own. At least I have some tasty veg at the end of my sweaty efforts.
Anyway, back to the leeks. I sow them at home as early as possible, transplant them into little cells, and basically grow them on until I have space available on the plot. Which sometimes means waiting for the first early potatoes to come out, but not this year. At this point they always seem to attract aphids on the lower, meaty parts of the stems.
So prior to planting out, I dip them in a strong solution of seaweed fertiliser (which gives the roots a growing boost) and then gently wipe the aphids away with my fingers.
They’re dropped into a deep dibbed hole (there’s a tongue twister) which is then filled with water. Some people trim the roots, some trim the tops, some do both, I don’t do either. I’ve successfully grown very good leeks (if I do say so myself) without any pre-planting trimming, so why make extra work for yourself? It’s not like there isn’t enough of that available. Some people also put cardboard tubes into the holes first to stop the soil collapsing around the leeks. I’ve not tried this, and wasn’t organised enough to save 45 cardboard tubes, but I can see the benefit I guess.
So along with the sprouting broccoli, that’s the plot full. The only exception is a small square space reserved for some lettuce which I’m growing at home, but I tend to keep a succession of that going anyway.
At the other end of the plot, the poppies are starting to flower. I didn’t plan these, they self seeded in the circular bed, and I decided to let them stay. Most gatecrashers to the party are thrown out, but I make an exception for the pretty ones. They’re no different to a weed in some peoples eyes, but I love them. I just need to be very careful when they go to seed, as my neighbour probably won’t be too happy with me!
I’d assumed they’d all be the standard red ones, but they range from darkish red with black spots, to bright orange red, through to hot fuchsia pink. They brighten up the plot already, and they’ve hardly started yet. See, not all weeds are bad.