Allotment Diary (May – Week 1)

Allotment Finances

We’ve harvested a total of £2408 of fruit and veg this year.
We’ve spent a total of £672 this year, mostly one time investments.  This week we spent almost as much as we harvested!

What we’ve harvested and eaten

We harvested a total of £193 worth of veg this week, excluding everything from the store. I’m very pleased that we are able to maintain such a good harvest rate as we enter the hungry gap.  We had 35 meals with ingredients from the allotment.

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We picked: carrots, green garlic, calabrese, purple sprouting broccoli, sprout leaves, calabrese leaves, radish, radish leaves, lots of types of kale, cabbage, true spinach, perpetual spinach, giant red mustard, chard, spring onions, celery, salad rocket, sorrel, leeks, pea shoots, broad bean tops, new potatoes and loads of lettuce. We also raided the store for: carrots, potatoes, onions, shallots, red beetroot, golden beetroot and dried apples.

People are we feeding

We are stable for now at eight families (Us, Elena, Jennie, Tony, Diane, Anne, Chris, Christine) about 20 people and I’m also sharing any extra surplus with fellow allotmenteers and Diane’s chickens!

What we’ve bought this week

It’s been an expensive week: I had to buy a new wheel barrow, a new axel/wheel for the old one, 3 ton of spent mushroom compost, multi-purpose compost and a few seeds.

Videos I’ve published

I published three videos:

What we are harvesting today and into the hungry gap


Planting brassicas: ground prep, making frames, choosing nets


What I’m Sowing and Growing in May


What I’ve sown

  1. Potato, Main-crop Sarpo Mira Root
  2. French Bean Amethyst Legumes
  3. Chard Rhubarb Cooking Leaves, Salad Leaves
  4. Cucumber La Diva Cucurbits
  5. Cucumber Market more Cucurbits
  6. Gherkin The Perfect Pickler Cucurbits

What I’ve planted

I’ve finally planted all of the potatoes in their pots.  The decision to use only pots has opened up a lot of land on the allotment and in theory allowed me to improve quality and yield, but it’s hard work, by comparison with just popping them in the ground, it will be interesting to see what I decide to do next year!  I’ve also moved the old – repaired – barrow from my allotment to the back garden, because that’s the best way to harvest from pots – tip them into the barrow.

The big planting job of the week has been the brassicas for autumn/winter harvest: sprouts, kalettes, red cabbage, calabrese and winter kale.  For a variety of reasons I’ve used a fine mesh that I will be removing in about three months time.  In previous years I’ve found nets only moderately effective, but I’ve found having full access to the plants, to watch them for signs of problems, to keep them tidy and to harvest regularly to be just as good as nets (also spraying with BT as needed) as well as giving the predators access to the pests.

I’ve also planted the last of the Alderman peas, these should keep us going until the beans take over.

Finally I’ve planted all of the polytunnel tomatoes, sweet corn, trumbocino  and the last of the cucumbers.

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What I’ve potted on

I’ve potted on the Aztec broccoli, calabrese, Graffiti caulifower, golden purselane. I should have potted on the outside tomatoes, maybe today!

First harvests of the year

  1. Carrots
  2. Green garlic

What we’ve run out of in store

  1. Dried pears
  2. Winter squash

Last harvests

  1. Last years celery (this year’s celery will be ready by the end of the month)
  2. Last years kale (this year’s kale is ready now)

What’s left in store

Potatoes – 1/2 medium sized bags
Garlic – a few bulbs
Carrots – 1/2 big box – the quality is quite low now though so we will soon switch to fresh
Onions – 1/3 large box
Shallots – 1/3 large box
Beets – 1 big box
Dried Apples – 1 big cool bag

Water Reserves and Rainfall

I’m not tracking water now that the taps are on.
Allotment reserves (Steve) :
Allotment reserves (Jennie):
Allotment reserves (Debbie):
Home reserves :

What have we processed for preserving

We often get tomatoes as gifts and these sometimes accumulate, so Debbie made up another batch of passata.


We’ve harvested our first carrots!!  This is a major achievement for me: fresh, sweet, crisp young carrots before we run out of carrots in the store.  Becoming self -sufficient in carrots all year round was one of the few remaining objectives.

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The polytunnel is back under control, most of the over-wintered veg is out and the tomatoes are in.  Managing the polytunnel in spring is definitely something I can improve on next year.  Doing that means doing a better job of growing late/early brassicas for spring outside and more lettuce outside too.  This will allow me to optimise the polytunnel beds for something that they are uniquely suited to.  See what a mess it was below!

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Jennie’s plot is all cleared, composted and mulched.  The bean frames are up the beds are mostly planted.

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I’ve been reflecting on the future of the allotments.  This has been initiated by two events: the joy with which the super early calabrese, cauliflowers, carrots, potatoes and asparagus have been greeted and the huge harvests we have had over winter and spring. I’ve now reached the point where ever bigger harvests isn’t that motivating (it’s just more work), self-sufficiency has been achieved, so what’s next?

I’ve decided on three areas of focus:

  1. growing an ever richer diet, one that’s tuned to the tastes of Jennie and her family, Tessa and her family and Debbie and I.   So that’s early/late treats, lots of trees/berries and some less productive, but very healthly/tasty crops.
  2. Growing even earlier and later.
  3. Reducing my workload with more perennial crops and less watering.

We’ve eaten our first home grown tomatoes of the year, the plants were cuttings from tomatoes that we harvested in January and are very unhealthy.  They have just been discarded and left outside because they have greenfly and mildew on the leaves, but amazingly the tomatoes ripened and were very tangy and nice (definitely an opportunity for next year there).

We are still harvesting a huge amount.


I’ve had to rest a bit more than usual due to inflamed tendons in the ankle area, this is most likely caused by the two courses of antibiotics that I’ve taken over the last month.  Antibiotics and tendon inflammation don’t automatically seem to be associated, but apparently this is an increasingly common side effect and needs to be managed carefully.

My indoor tomatoes are not thriving, I moved them to the allotment too early and it’s not really warm enough for them.  I need to fix that next year.  By contrast the outdoor tomatoes, planted a month later and kept at home are bigger and healthier!

Carrot germination in one of my undercover frames has been rubbish, or they’ve been eaten by slugs.  I think I will be re-purposing that frame anyway, scrapping the carrots and planting sweet potatoes there.

I’ve had to resow my outdoor cucumbers, only one germinated: maybe cheap – end of season – seeds from Wilko’s were not the best idea.

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

6 Responses

  1. Congrats on those carrots! They are a challenging crop for me for sure, and I could never manage to grow all that we eat. I’m amazed by the 3 tons of compost too. That will take a lot of work!

  2. Growing the carrots in containers was key. I brought them into the house for seven days to germinate, they were fine in the tunnel until April and now outside. We eat carrots every day, but we rarely have much of a surplus. The compost took 3 of us 3 hours to shift, it cost the whole of today’s harvest to buy it.

  3. Melanie Sutcliffe says:

    Great site Steve, I have signed in but can not find the list with all your seeds you will be sowing this month. How do I get to your charts. Maybe it’s my table not showing everything, cheers

  4. Hi Melanie, you need to look at my monthly sowing guides for that information, here’s the one for May If you scroll to the end you will find the complete sowing guide for the year : All the best – Steve

  5. Melanie Sutcliffe says:

    Thanks Steve, I’m not good on the computers, its apricieted when someone tries to help us out.

  6. No problem Melanie

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