I think John and I deserve a medal for at least attempting to make a start on the allotment this weekend. As you can see from the state of my boots, it was very muddy. I know we have nothing to complain about, some peoples allotments are 3 foot under water (let alone houses) and at least we can get down there to pull up some leeks and root veg, if I can remember where they are.
Looking back at my posts at this time of year, over the last couple of years, it was snow rather than rain causing havoc, and in 2012, a balmy dry spell in March (I don’t think anyone would complain at that prospect right now) but in all, February is an unpredictable month, when us gardeners are chomping at the bit, ready to get back out there, but you have to be patient.
Our plot slopes very gently (imperceptibly) down from the top to bottom end. We only know this because the bottom end is always wetter and more weedy, but I think grows better potatoes and squashes. So John managed to dig over the top bed without sinking into mud, unlike me, attempting to pull waterlogged leeks out. It’s a good start anyway, and somewhere to plant the onion and shallot sets which are ready and waiting for a bit more warmth.
The circular flower bed has been taken over by Cerinthe major, which has self-sown very successfully. This will hopefully start to flower quite soon and provide some nectar for the bees. Its common name is honeywort, it’s an annual that self-sows every year and the bees love the little bell like purple flowers. I allow this bed to self-sow with annuals every year, just pulling out any thuggish weeds here and there, it’s pretty low-maintenance. I also planted some spare foxgloves in the bed last autumn, so hopefully these will start to self-sow too.
The purple sprouting broccoli is coming on well, I think some flowering heads are starting to form and there might be a harvest on its way soon. The garlic has starting sending up some green shoots, which is always a good sign, and the broad beans (those that haven’t been completely demolished by slugs) are growing fine.
We only really managed an hour on the plot, it wasn’t so much the mud, as the sharp bitter wind that sent us packing in the end. I managed to hack back the rampant blackberry bush that is growing on the side of the shed (and trying to muscle its way into the shed), dig up some enormous leeks and some slightly dodgy looking carrots and parsnips.
And then back home, in a little window at the end of my shed, I made a start on sowing seeds. Leeks (a new variety for me, that claims to be rust resistant), chilli and bell peppers (I grow these at home) more broad beans, and some flowers – nasturtiums and tagetes. I plan to intercrop more flowers with the vegetables this year. The tagetes help to repel whitefly (something about the smell they don’t like) while also attracting hoverflies and other good insects, and the nasturtiums are a sacrificial flower, loved by caterpillars who will hopefully prefer them to my broccoli, but also loved by the bees. So, dual purpose, cheap and easy to grow, and they look bright and colourful on the plot, what’s not to love? It’ll be a riot of colour rather than mud really soon.
Small steps are sometimes what you need to get back into the swing of things.