Allotment Diary (December – Week 1)
Overview of the week
I spent half a day on the allotment this week, mostly planting and then two other visits for harvesting. The big news though is that harvests are still strong, it’s been colder than usual, but I’ve managed to finish planting all of my spare plants. In the absence of allotment work I’ve been cycling, planning the allotment and working on the garden.
The total fruit and veg harvest for 2019 so far is £8657 with an additional £701 of preserves, making a grand total of £9,359 so far. It’s great to pass the £9K milestone, with a few weeks to go before the year end. Originally we’d targeted £10k, but due to the councils new rules that don’t allow us to share veg with friends and neighbours we’ve intentionally switched our focus from high value crops to lower value staples for family members.
We’ve spent a total of £1,264 this year, mostly tools, seeds, water storage, nematodes and a lot of compost!
What we’ve harvested and eaten
We harvested a total of £100 worth of fruit and veg this week, which is pretty good for this time of year, topically December and early January are our leanest months, things pick up towards the end of January depending on the weather.
We picked: Jerusalem artichokes, Romanesco cauliflower, oca, peppers, field bean tops, apples, sprouts, kalettes, new potatoes, main crop tomatoes, chard, red and golden beetroot, red cabbage, carrots, calabrese, sprout leaves, calabrese leaves, lots of types of kale, spring onions, mixed herbs, radish and loads of lettuce. We also raided the store for: main crop potatoes, onions, shallots, garlic and dried apples and pears. Bold items are new this week.
What we’ve bought this week
Video’s this week
What I’ve sown
What I’ve planted
Quite a bit got planted this week in one marathon session.
- I inter-planted the carrot bed with White Lisbon spring onions
- I cleared the last of the golden beetroot and planted Navara lettuce (pictured), these will be cleared for early carrots, but I should get a good harvest from them between
- I cleared the worst of my five spinach beds and planted a mix of Dazzling Blue kale, Cantarix lettuce and Black Seeded Simson lettuce
- I’ve had some losses in the oldest of the Grenoble Red lettuce bed, so I filled in all of the gaps
- I’ve also completed a part planted beetroot bed, these are small plants that will hopefully give us a harvest in May, just as we are running out of beets in the store
What I’ve potted on
My last succession of brassicas to be over-wintered as small plants is now ready for potting on:
- 9 Duncan spring cabbages
- 9 Marathon Calabrese
- 18 sprout plants to be planted out at high density – in spring – for leaves and sprout tops
- 6 All Year Round cauliflowers
First harvests of the year
- Oca (10th Dec)
- Jerusalem artichokes (17th Dec)
What we’ve run out of in store
We harvested the last of the main crop potatoes and noticed a huge difference in size depending on light levels. This box was in moderate shade:
This box was from containers in light shade:
- Celery – May week 1
- Last years kale – May week 1
- Perpetual spinach – May week 3
- Purple sprouting broccoli – May week 4
- Chard – June week 1
- Celery – August week 4
- Golden Purselane – 1st September
- Sweet Corn – 20th September
- Courgettes – 28th September
- Runner beans – 6 October
- French beans – 6 October
- Courgette – 16th October
- Tomatoes – 19th October
- Pears – 25th October
- NZ spinach 3rd November
- Celariac 3rd November
- Leeks 3rd November
- Raspberries 15th November
- Cucumber 30th Nvember
What’s left in store
The store is now full:
- Beetroot – 5 large boxes
- Carrots – 2 large boxes
- Onions/shallots – 4 large boxes
- Garlic – 1 large box
- Dried pears – l large cool bag
- Dried apples – 1 large cool bag
- Potatoes – 2 large boxes
- Squash – 16 Crown Prince
We also have a few apples, two beds of mature carrots, 1 bed of beets and loads of ‘Christmas potatoes’ still in the ground. Loads of stuff in the freezer too and hundreds of preserves.
Water Reserves and Rainfall
The taps are now off on the allotments, so we are now totally dependent on rainfall until April, we are well stocked though:
- Allotment reserves (Steve) : 4.5 cubic metres
- Allotment reserves (Jennie): 0.8 cubic metres
- Allotment reserves (Debbie): 0.5 cubic metres
- Home reserves : 0.9 cubic metres
It’s worth noting that we have a huge amount of roof area for collecting water at home, so we don’t need anywhere near as much winter storage there.
What have we processed for preserving
Nothing, but as space comes free in the freezer we will however start to process carrots, garlic, onions and squash into soups and the freezer.
- We’ve had some good cycling weather!
- Debbie harvested our first ever Jerusalem artichokes, a friend gave us the tubers last year and we have quite a few left to harvest
- The polytunnel has now been cleared of all of my spare plants and most are now in the ground, all of my growing space is fully planted again
- The salads are still wonderful (see below, but I didn’t grow the grapes and tomatoes)
- I’ve harvested all of the maincrop potatoes now, a job I’ve been putting off because the heavy rain means very heavy and sodden containers, it’s a grim job.
- Now that these containers are harvested I can access last years hosta bed and dig them up and mulch with spent potato compost. The hosta bed only looked lovely for about 3 weeks until the slugs/snails decimated it. Next year we are eradicating the slugs/snails and replanting it as a brassica greens bed, with a mix of about 6 types of lovely kale plants
- We are progressing well with plans for our new strategy: to grow – and harvest – much more summer veg at home, focusing the summer allotment on root veg, onions, summer squash and winter brassicas. This is easier for us and allows us to continue to gift our surplus to friends (soon to be banned by our council) . Gifting food is a lovely thing to do and is also a key part of our efforts to live a net zero carbon life, so it’s not something we are prepared to stop, just because the council’s not interested in combating climate change.
- Still almost no sign of the late planted garlic and broad beans. I’m still hopeful that they haven’t rotted in the cold/wet ground. Next year I need to plant them a couple of weeks earlier
- The only evidence of life was half a dozen garlic cloves – and lots of roots – lying on top of the soil. Either they’ve been uprooted by birds, or they’ve pushed themselves out on frosty days, ie when the surface defrosts, but the sub-surface is still frozen.