Allotment Diary (March 2020 – Week 5)

Overview of the week

Despite the lockdown we are fine, in fact not having very much to do means that we get to focus a bit more on hobbies and getting ahead on our allotment jobs.  Our life is fairly simple, so except for having to cancel a couple of holidays and a few hiking trips, it’s not been a lot different to our usual relaxed existence.

The allotments are still open, which is a relief, but the threat still lingers that they will be closed at some point, so we are focused on trying to prepare for that eventuality.

Allotment Finances

Our harvest total for this year is £1590 which remains about one week ahead of last year. That’s the way the harvests go now, because one week in mid spring is worth 2-3 weeks in mid winter, that’s why it really makes sense to focus on maximum yields in spring, provided we can actually eat it all!

We have the same growing area as last year, but a little more experience, that’s currently translating into a modest improvement over last years harvests of about 10%.  Next year should see a more substantial change, if things go well, if things go badly we should still be fine.

What we’ve harvested and eaten

We harvested £180 of veg this week, which is only £18 more than last year, although we are picking for fewer people.  We have managed to scrounge some extra containers, so it was less of a problem this week.

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and the salad table:

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We picked: rhubarbpurple sprouting broccoli, radish,  field bean tops, sprouts, kalettes, new potatoes, chard, red and golden beetroot, carrots, calabrese, sprout leaves, calabrese leaves,  lots of types of kale, spring onions, mixed herbs and a lot 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

We’ve now been gifted a second grow light by Spider-farmer, although lights are really not that useful at this time of year, so for the real impact on our growing we will have to wait for autumn!  This new setup allows seedlings to enjoy a lot warmth and natural light in the conservatory from 9am until 3pm and then we can also bring on 7 trays of seedlings with lights for another 12 hours or so.

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Video’s this week

Everyone in the youtube gardening community is being encouraged to create more content while people are on lockdown, fortunately I’m actually doing things that warrant a video, so I’m doing my bit.

What to sow, grow and share to fight COVID 19

My new seed sowing and seedling production line

Planting the kitchen garden

Planting out the early French and runner beans

Update on the early baking potatoes

What I’ve sown


It’s been a quiet sowing week and a busy planting week.

Radish French Breakfast
Leek Leek Porbella
Potato, First-early potato Swift-potato
Sweetcorn Rising Sun
Potato, Second-early potato Charlotte

What I’ve planted

I’ve done loads of planting this week,  all of it in the back garden.  I’ve changed my planting plans so that we have a little of everything in the garden, rather than just the leafy greens.


What I’ve potted on

New Zealand spinach – pricked out from self-seeded plants
Red Russian kale
Reflex kale
Dwarf green kale
Dazzling blue kale
Red onions

First harvests of the year


What we’ve run out of in store

  1. Fresh apples, week 11

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 7
  3. We harvested the last of the beetroot that we left in the ground, week 4
  4. Romanesco cauliflower, week 10
  5. Sprouts, week 12
  6. Cauliflower (planted 2019), week 12

What’s left in store

The store is is still on good shape:

  1. Beetroot – 3.5 large boxes
  2. Carrots – 1.5 large boxes
  3. Onions/shallots – 2.5 large boxes
  4. Garlic – 1 large box
  5. Dried pears – l large cool bag
  6. Dried apples – 1 large cool bag
  7. Potatoes – 1.5 large boxes
  8. New potatoes – 4 tubs
  9. Squash – 4 Crown Prince

We also have 1/2 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) : 3.7 of 4.6 cubic metres
  2. Allotment reserves (Jennie): 1 of 2.5 cubic metres
  3. Allotment reserves (Debbie): 0.5 of 0.5 cubic metres
  4. Home reserves : 0.9 of 0.9 cubic metres

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. We were gifted a second expensive grow light, which is already making a difference to the health of our seedlings in the conservatory, preventing them reaching for the light
  2. We’ve had some great weather
  3. We planted a second batch of lettuce and spring onions and first plantings of perennial kale and beetroot outside


  1. COVID 19

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

14 Responses

  1. Neil Munro says:

    Hi Steve,
    thanks for the extra output. Appreciated as always!
    Though not short of jobs, I’ve found time to do some food processing. As the freezer is emplying I’ve been turning the last of the parsnips into mash, then freezing it. The freezer stays full, and the parsnips get out of the ground and dont go soft on me.
    Can I press the question I made before, but I think you were sidetracked. How do you overwinter your peppers? I lifted 2 dozen plants and kept them inside, but only 2 have survived..

  2. Thank you for the garden update. Do you always start your corn for transplant? I have always direct seeded but the moles disturbed the seeds last summer and I had to replant. They are still around despite half-inch hardware cloth at the bottom of the beds.

  3. I do Sue, because our ground takes so long to reach germination temperature, probably early summer. I just finished planting the chitted seed that will grow into the plants that will stay in the polytunnel, or be spend their first month or so under cover in a deep cold-frame. Last year I planted my main crop in the ground in May and not a single seed (out of about 40) germinated : All the best – Steve

  4. I Neil, sorry for the delay, hopefully this video covers it, if not ask a question in the comments on youtube

  5. I do enjoy your gardening videos even if I don’t always mention it!! I can see the output of the SF lights. I am still starting a few things like the cucurbits so I can get use of them now as well as this fall. I do hope you all will continue to be allowed to work the allotments. It seems like it would not contribute the the spread of the virus like many other activities. And exercise is actually good for the immune system, so we are trying to get as much time in as we can working outside.

  6. Neil says:

    Hi Dave, Steve et al…,
    If anyone tries to stop me going to the allottment I am going to point out that my allotmentIS my supermarket, and ask how will I eat if i cannot access my food suppy?
    If this is said by enough people it could keep our access available…

  7. Hi Neil, that’s definitely true of us too Neil as we are feeding 20 people at the moment and harvesting close to £200 per week, much of it to give away to those in need. Unfortunately our council doesn’t even acknowledge that growing food is an important role for an allotment, their view is that it’s just a place to go and potter around and relax. So if the parks are closed I can’t see them making an exception for the allotments. I’m making contingency plans!

  8. I did enjoy you video of Planting the Kitchen Garden. Now I know what your little knobs are for. Genius to interplant lettuce with spring onions. I tend to do lettuce in rows. What is the row cover you use? Looks perfect for our climate too. Thanks.

  9. Hi Sue, it’s called envirotect it’s a knitted mesh, lets in more light and water than normal fleece and its longer lasting, no quite as warm : all the best – Steve

  10. Thanks for the name of the row cover.

  11. Neil says:

    Hi Steve, I am aware you have done a video before on storing, but I am surprised and please to hear you are still accessing maincrop potatoes. Mine went soft and unusable by December. Could you remind us how you achieve storage to March?
    Thanks again Sir.

  12. Hi Neil, the new potatoes were left in compost in the greenhouse, they are perfect. The maincrop are in an unheated wooden shed at home, in a cardboard box with a thick fleece blanket laid over them, we switched to that method – rather than a sack – because we can spot any problems with rot, mice etc and easily find just the size that we want : All the best – Steve

  13. neil says:

    I like the compost idea to even out temperature and moisture fluctuations. I guess your fleece doeas the same. Ill give it a go. Thx as ever….

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