Allotment Diary (February 2020 – week 2)

Overview of the week

I’ve been away hiking on the east coast since the last harvest, arriving back on Friday, just in time to harvest again, so I can safely say no work has been done on the allotments.  I did however get a few seeds sown on the Sunday before I left.

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While I’ve been on holiday I’ve been working on a change in our lifestsyle, to live a bit more seasonally, it’s an exciting project with a lot of potential.  From a food growing perspective the biggest change is that we will be growing a little more aligned with the weather, trying to grow the very best fruit and veg for each season, rather than working so hard to grow everything, all of the time.  This will likely mean we will grow more volume and more varieties, but with less work, which has been our strategy ever since we started gardening, nearly 4 years ago now!

Allotment Finances

Our harvest total for this year is £578, which is just under twice last year’s harvest rate, we have now covered all of our main allotment costs for the year: rent, wood chip, compost, fertiliser, nets and seeds.

What we’ve harvested and eaten

We harvested a total of £110 worth of fruit and veg this week.  We are starting to see a small uptick in growth rates, which means we basically harvest everything that’s ready and don’t worry about next week, leaving that responsibility to increasing light levels.  It’s been our experience that at this time of year the gardens just about keep up with us.  The lettuce beds continue to struggle though, so we are still picking them lightly, harvesting only 14 litres this week!  We are also taking care not to harvest too many new potatoes, hoping to have enough to keep us going until our new year crop is ready in April.

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We picked: Romanesco cauliflower, field bean tops, sprouts, kalettes, new potatoes, chard, red and golden beetroot, red cabbage, savoy cabbage, carrots, calabrese, sprout leaves, calabrese leaves,  lots of types of kale, spring onions, mixed herbs and a little 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

A few seeds, which brings to a close all of the seeds we need for this year, although we will probably buy some for next year

Video’s this week

February allotment tour : all ready for spring

What I’ve sown


I sowed all of the main-crop onions this week, as well as all of last years pepper seeds, just in case they germinate (lots of them did).  I’m sowing new peppers next week.

Main crop Onion Karmen onion Allium
Main crop Onion Rijnsburger Allium
Main crop Onion Ailsa Craig – onion Allium
Spinach Amazon Cooking Leaves, Salad Leaves
Sweet Calafornia Wonder Pepper
Sweet Long red marconi Pepper
Hot De cyenne Pepper
Sweet Calafornia Wonder Pepper

What I’ve planted


What I’ve potted on


First harvests of the year

Nothing new this week

What we’ve run out of in store


Last harvests

  1. Oca – we now only have tubers for planting next year, week 1
  2. Artichokes – we now only have tubers for planting next year, week 4
  3. We harvested the last of the beetroot that we left in the ground, week 4

What’s left in store

The store is now full:

  1. Beetroot – 5 large boxes
  2. Carrots – 2 large boxes
  3. Onions/shallots – 4 large boxes
  4. Garlic – 1 large box
  5. Dried pears – l large cool bag
  6. Dried apples – 1 large cool bag
  7. Potatoes – 2 large boxes
  8. New potatoes – 7 tubs
  9. Squash – 9 Crown Prince

We also have a few apples, 1 bed of mature carrots and loads of ‘Christmas potatoes’ still in their containers.  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:

  1. Allotment reserves (Steve) : 4.5 cubic metres
  2. Allotment reserves (Jennie): 0.8 cubic metres
  3. Allotment reserves (Debbie): 0.5 cubic metres
  4. 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.


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  1. I had a wonderful week hiking along the Cleveland Way and the Cinder Track between Scarborough and Whitby
  2. Harvest volumes are much better than last year
  3. All of the pruning is finished!
  4. All of the potatoes have arrived and are unpacked and chitting in their trays.  We now have 6 tubs of earliest that have broken through, four of them are in the polytunnel growing under fleece

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  1. We are expecting the worst storm of the year tomorrow, probably worse than anything we had last year as well.

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

11 Responses

  1. Jan Cavell says:

    Secure as much as you can. Let’s hope we’re all ok after the pending storm. Take care everyone. I should have been moving manure to my allotment tomorrow but on hold till the weather clears.
    Seed sowing tomorrow I think.

  2. Seed sowing for me too and potting on peppers

  3. Neil says:

    I noticed with envy your overwintered peppers. Mine have all but died. I tried them in an unheated greenhouse on a heated bead with soil warming cables, but as soon as i covered them with fleece, they started to rot.
    there does seem to be some variation in susceptibility to cold weather by variety, but i cannot find any info on this…
    PS, I recently retired a few years ago, having been an analyst in IT and had all the info for an allotment book, but you seem to have published on line most of my findings, so I’ve binned that project!

  4. Hi Neil, I definitely think there’s a need for a book on year round growing, lots of people ask me to write one. I might get around to it in a few years, but in the interim please feel free to restart the project! If it makes you feel any better I’m having a lot of issues with lettuce stem rot : all the best – Steve

  5. It’s interesting to hear about your planned changes. My own garden plans have definitely evolved over the years both to suit our changing tastes and to make better use of my time and the garden space. I’ve been trying to concentrate on things that do better for me here, and things which I grow best. Onions don’t do well for me and I can buy them cheaper than I can try to grow them, all things considered. Greens on the other hand are much better homegrown, I can grow them year round fairly easily with the greenhouse and cold frames. I also find my energy isn’t quite what it was 10 years ago! A book on year round gardening would be welcome I’m sure. Eliot Coleman has Four Season Harvest but that is really suited for his harsh winter climate, though it does have some good ideas I’ve put into use.

  6. Sounds like a plan for realigning your garden plans. Likely more sustainable too from many standpoints. I’ve learned that lesson with perennials. Grow what thrives and don’t push the envelope. It usually leads to disappointment. I need to get going with my seeds for spring. I have extra space in my beds now because of raccoon casualties so probably more lettuce than usual to fill the gaps and maybe an early start on the spring/summer garden. Thanks for the auto-fill options below. Makes it so much easier.

  7. Hi Sue, now that we’ve been self-sufficient for two years the time has come to start focusing of refining the way that we grow, rather than grow everything all the time. A great example is radish, which we don’t grow in winter and summer now, instead we substitute for oca and cucamelons, more variety for us and veg that’s optimised for the season : All the best – Steve

  8. I too could easily give up on growing onions Dave, I would still grow bunching onions, but Debbie won’t hear of it because it’s hard to get a reliable supply of organic onions in the shops. Our real objective is a wonderful diet with less work each year. Our strategy for this coming year is to grow what’s best for each season, a good example would not growing true spinach in summer and mid winter, substituting with New Zealand spinach and field beans. As you point out energy levels do decline gradually and I definitely suffer from wear and tear injuries more than I did a decade ago, so every winter we do a few projects to reduce our work. The biggest by far this year is switching to watering a max of twice a week on the allotment and using a sprinkler system in the garden for the rest. I really liked Elliots Four Season Harvest book, however it didn’t quite cater for my audience, people who want to grow a very rich diet all year round.

  9. Neil says:

    Intrigued about growing cucumelons. I grow them in the greenhouse where they conveniently scramble over the benches after all the seedlings have been planted out. I noticed that they seem to form tubers in the ground, and was wondering if you (or anyone else out there) had any experience of them being perrenial?
    i tend to pickle them for use through the Winter…

  10. I understand that if you save the tubers frost free they will regrow. I’m trying that this year as I find the seeds take ages to germinate : All the best – Steve

  11. Neil says:

    Thanks Steve, really useful to know. .. and it means one less set of seeds to raise and molly coddle in late Spring adding to the ‘reduce workload’ agenda….
    I will start be seeing if they pop up in the greenhouse bed next to the bench posts. Ill let you know the outcome.

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