What Lived – And What Died – On The Allotment During The Deep Freeze

2017-12-15 12.11.35

This year I planted most of my tender veg in cold-frames and hoop tunnels, but I left some outside so I could compare how well they coped with the winter weather.

Up until the first really hard frost (-8C) the lettuces that were growing outside did slightly better than those under-cover. The Lambs Lettuce, and Miner’s Lettuce did much better outside. After the frost was another story alltogether, I lost almost all of the outdoor lettuce and everything under cloches was damaged as well. Under cover everything was almost perfect. The outdoor Lambs Lettuce, and Miner’s Lettuce just shrugged off the frost.

My conclusion so far is that provided the lettuces are mature by autumn, they are fine outside until mid November – or until the first hard frost – This year I put the covers on in September so putting this back a month or so will really help with the watering.

In this weeks deep freeze the covers turned -8C into about -3C, but the protection from wind and hail probably made as much of a difference. For more on season extension see these videos https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLFhKoRR-NiCKdJQiK2HzmZEAoDlpbsgsH. For more on my frames and tunnels see these https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLFhKoRR-NiCKtxqWuvikOnCI3SE91rBiU.

If you are new to my allotment videos you might find a bit of context useful. We have three allotments in my family, mine (Steve), my wife’s (Debbie) and one of our daughter’s (Jennie). We also have a small kitchen garden at home. They are all managed in an integrated fashion, so don’t expect to see the usual mix of veg on each plot. Jennie’s plot for example focuses on potatoes, squash, alliums and brassicas. This video provides an overview https://youtu.be/q1k-2vIoSQ8. I do a monthly tour of each allotment, roughly one a week, you can find the tours here https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLFhKoRR-NiCJn5Y6rZf0RCCqycu3xvofX.

Our approach to allotment life is to: grow as much as we possibly can, to be self sufficient in veg all year round and in fruit in summer, to give away our huge surplus to friends and family, and to have as much fun as possible.

My wife and I spend about 4 hours a day, 4 days a week on the plots (on average) and we keep nudging that down as we eliminate non-productive work: like grass cutting, weeding and watering as much as practical. We are both newbie gardeners, only starting the allotments in 2016.

I’m a bit obsessive about the nutrient density of the veg that we grow and making the plots easy to work because it’s through this allotment lifestyle and food that I’ve overcome a debilitating auto-immune disease. I’m always aware though that it might not last so I make sure that I don’t work too hard, eat the most organic fruit and veg I can and design the plots so that I can still work them if I flare up again.

Steve Richards

I'm retired from work as a business and IT strategist. now I'm travelling, hiking, cycling, swimming, reading, gardening, learning, writing this blog and generally enjoying good times with friends and family

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