Allotment Diary (December – Week 4)
Overview of the week
I’ve done it … this is my 52nd report! That means that finally all of this effort will pay off, because I will be able to read last year’s diary next week, as well as writing this years. Actually I took a quick look at all of January’s entries and they already proved very useful for my planning, it’s a benefit that’s been a long time coming!!
Only three hours spent on the allotment this week as it’s been the Christmas holidays, but we did pop down on Sunday to harvest and do a bit of last minute planting to take advantage of the relatively mild weather. We’ve been particularly enjoying the sunrises and sets this week though.
At this time of year we intentionally take a two week break from harvesting for our extended family. We only harvest for Debbie and I, Jennie, Jon and Robin. That gives us a nice break and it also means the the plants aren’t over picked during the weeks when they don’t put on any growth. We generally find that by mid January life is starting to return to the plots and by February everything is looking much better.
The total fruit and veg harvest for 2019 so far is £8920 with an additional £701 of preserves, making a grand total of £9,621 so far, originally we’d targeted £10k for the year, so we are fairly close. This is the last year that we will have a financial target for the allotments as we have proved that it is definitely a zero cost hobby (which was our original financial target). From now on our focus is to grow more low cost staples, to get more of our extended family closer to self-sufficient too.
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 £45 worth of fruit and veg this week, which is very good for this time of year. Typically late December and early January are our leanest months, things pick up towards the end of January depending on the weather. I actually really love these micro harvests, because they give a much better impression of what Debbie and I actually get through in a week (a little bit more than this, because it doesn’t include anything from the store and we will pick more salad mid week).
We picked: Jerusalem artichokes, Romanesco cauliflower, oca, peppers, field bean tops, sprouts, kalettes, new potatoes, chard, red and golden beetroot, red cabbage, carrots, calabrese, sprout leaves, calabrese leaves, lots of types of kale, spring onions, mixed herbs and loads of lettuce. We also raided the store for: squash, 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
- A full bed of Winter Density lettuce
- A full bed of Beetroot
- Spare lettuces (Navara, Grenoble Red, Freckles and Roxy)
What I’ve potted on
First harvests of the year
What we’ve run out of in store
Baking potatoes – we had a terrible harvest of potatoes this year, we have plenty of smaller ones left, but no bakers (definitely a focus for next year)
- 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 November
- Radish 5th December
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 – 13 Crown Prince
We also have a few apples, 1 1/2 beds of mature carrots, 2/3 of a 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) : 4.25 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.
- Winter sunsets
- The weather forecast for the next two weeks looks quite good, so I took a risk and decided to water the under cover beds (first time for a month). I also decided to pull the sickly old Navara bed and re-plant with Winter Density.
- We now take 2 weeks off deliveries to our extended family, we just pick for ourselves. This means we don’t over pick veg during the period where it doesn’t regrow. To achieve this we try to leave the garden beds relatively unharvested in December, so they are well stocked, giving the allotment beds time to recover
- We’ve has some fairly sunny days this week, so we’ve actually had good growth on some of the beds, especially the polytunnel salads, this is very unusual for the time of year
- The broad beans are finally breaking through and around 60% of the garlic has finally made an appearance
- Slugs/cut worms have eaten a lot of the carrots, so I’ve transitioned half of the carrot bed to a spring onion and beetroot bed, which is now nicely planted up. I’m going to replant the other half with early carrots in February.
- We are noticing a huge number of small slugs in the harvests, they are not eating much at this time of year, just hiding, but it doesn’t bode well for spring. We will definitely have to be on the ball with our slug control next year! The sprout tops are the worst, one of them had ten slugs in it!
- I’ve now discovered that the stem rot I’ve been experienced is actually caused by cut worms, as I dug up the dead plants every one had a very fat worm underneath. I need to remember this for next year and water with the cutworm killing nematode later in the year.
- I’m also reconsidering my policy of growing brassicas in the polytunnel as it seems a bit of a waste to have a large polytunnel bed that’s not harvested from October until February at the earliest. I think maybe I could find another way to grow late/early kale. If I did that I would be able to leave cucumbers and tomatoes in the polytunnel for longer and then plant some salads/carrots for an early spring harvest, alternatively I could plant more spinach, which would be very popular.