How time flies. Are we really into May already? Is that a sure sign of getting older when you have to even question that? Funny how winter seems to drag its heels, so slowly, and then spring … well … springs along with a hop and a skip and it’ll be summer before you know it.
It’s that time of year when you start to panic that there’s something you’ve forgotten to sow or plant or buy, and you’ll have missed the window of opportunity in the blink of an eye. Although, in actual fact, I think I’m getting more laid back each year, growing a bit less, sowing a bit later, buying ready grown plants to fill gaps or replace failures without any shred of shame, and if I have missed something – hey there’s always next year, I’ll live, the allotment will probably fill up regardless, and I can always put more flowers in! It’s not like the war years when people relied heavily on their homegrown produce to see them through rationing. I can just as easily go and buy some sweetcorn if I really want it, it just won’t be quite as tasty.
So to catch up since my last post, Easter weekend was lovely, we had 2 whole days on the plot which was a real luxury. It drizzled, but we just ignored it, hoping that it didn’t really exist if we didn’t acknowledge it. I made hot cross buns for the first time, I stuffed my face with chocolate, and between us we finished the mega bank holiday Guardian crossword, a happy and fulfilled break all round.
On the plot, John planted out the seed potatoes. Back in February when we bought them, we made a forthright decision to grow fewer spuds this year. We never quite manage to get through our store, and I think the truth is we eat more pasta and rice dishes than potatoes. So we chose 2 varieties, a main crop which did well for us last year – Romano, and a few Ratte salad potatoes. A total of 3 rows which was fine … that is until fellow allotmenteers on our site started doing the rounds with their spare seed potatoes. John couldn’t say no, and before long we had another 3 rows planted. Oh well, so much for being frugal.
I got to work on a bed between the garlic and the shed, earmarked for root and salad crops. I decided to run the rows vertically, rather than across the plot width, so that I could sow more of a variety in shorter rows. There’s a little path of steeping stones down the middle so that I can get in to weed and for easier access from one side to the other. There are 4 rows either side of the path, into which went spinach; lettuce; beetroot; and spring onions on one side, tagetes; carrots; parsnips; and another row of spring onions on the other.
The carrots have been covered with a mesh tunnel, but I’m also hoping the onions, tagetes (french marigolds) and nearby garlic, will also help deter any carrot fly. I’ve not had much luck with carrots over the last couple of years, so a double layer of protection is my determined effort to succeed this year.
After Easter I had a few days visiting my parents, wondering around my mums cottage garden, and of course a trip to the garden centre where we both hunt out the discount counter and raid it. I picked up a tray of broad beans for 99p. They’re a touch straggly, in desperate need of planting out, but in better condition than the slug and weevil damaged ones on my plot right now. They just need staking and toughening up a bit. I was going to give up all hopes of broad beans this year, but maybe these will come good. No idea what variety they are.
And finally I came home to some progress in the cold frame. My borlotti beans are shooting, phew, the chilli and bell peppers are coming on well and the tomatoes are a bit slow, but that’s okay, they won’t go out to the plot for another 2 or 3 weeks yet. Also got loads of leek seedlings (about eighty odd), some Romanesque broccoli, more lettuce, and a tray of basil. So far, no show from the courgettes or sweetcorn. I may be buying those yet. Bring on the bank holiday, I can’t cope with these 5 working day weeks!