Allotment Diary (April 2020 – Week 1)
Overview of the week
The lockdown proceeds and we are all fine. There’s not much variety in our lives, but the weather is good and we have plenty to do. So much to do in fact that I wonder how I managed to fit all the cycling, hiking, travel etc into my pre-lockdown life! The main extra activity continues to be working on transforming the garden and I suppose I’m a lot further ahead and generally on top of things than I was last year. I’m also better rested. We are also exceptionally well positioned on the food front, able to meet most of our own needs for the next few months from the garden and a decent amount of our winter needs, but we still need the allotments to get through winter.
Our harvest total for this year is £1,832 which is a really great result for the time of year. We will probably have a dip in harvests within two weeks though as the winter veg is coming to an end and it’s always a race against time to get the spring planted crops to take over in time.
What we’ve harvested and eaten
We harvested £242.50 of veg this week, which is a big increase over last year, we are picking hard as so many people are short of fresh food right now. The photo shows just a small fraction of what we harvested, it’s no longer possible to fit everything into one shot.
Here’s a photo of everything bagged up for delivery to family and neighbours, our food is already in the fridge:
We picked: rhubarb, purple sprouting broccoli, radish, field bean tops, kalettes, new potatoes, chard, red and golden beetroot, carrots, cabbage, sprout leaves, calabrese leaves, lots of types of kale, spring onions, mixed herbs, true spinach 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
Most of the shops are closed and those that are open are out of stock of everything garden related. We did however manage to source some compost, enough to fill all 30 potato tubs, so we should be ok for potatoes of all shapes and sizes this year, provided we can get hold of Charlotte seed potatoes for planting in August.
We also purchased a very nice – German – garden sprinkler that covers the whole growing area and the lawn, we’ve not had rain for nearly 4 weeks now and have none forecast, so I tried it out and it’s excellent, very adjustable. We are very focused this year on easy watering at home!
Videos 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 I’ve sown
It’s been a quiet sowing week and a busy planting week. My previous sowing of Sweetcorn failed, so I tried chitting the seeds instead (damp kitchen roll in sealed container) and got 100% germination. I planted the chits and they have all just broken surface, this is good news, although it means clearing space for the plants in the polytunnel in 3 weeks time, fortunately I will start harvesting potatoes by then as we only have two weeks supply left from last year.
What We’ve planted
We’ve done loads of planting this week, most of it in the polytunnel. I’ve changed my planting plans so that we have a little of everything in the garden, rather than just the leafy greens. The sprouts and the spinach were planted in the garden, the rest went into the polytunnel, with one courgette in a cold-frame. I also planted celery in the polytunnel.
What I’ve potted on
First harvests of the year
What we’ve run out of in store
- Fresh apples, week 11
- Oca – we now only have tubers for planting next year, week 1
- Artichokes – we now only have tubers for planting next year, week 7
- We harvested the last of the beetroot that we left in the ground, week 4
- Romanesco cauliflower, week 10
- Sprouts, week 12
- Cauliflower (planted 2019), week 12
- Carrots from the ground, Week 14
What’s left in store
The store is is still on good shape:
- Beetroot – 3 large boxes
- Carrots – 1.5 large boxes
- Onions/shallots – 2.5 large boxes
- Garlic – 1 large box
- Dried pears – l large cool bag
- Dried apples – 1 large cool bag
- Potatoes – 1/2 a large box
- New potatoes – 3 tubs
- Squash – 6 Crown Prince
Loads of stuff in the freezer too and dozens 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 although we are getting through a lot of water, we might have enough to get us to the end of the month:
- Allotment reserves (Steve) : 3 of 4.6 cubic metres
- Allotment reserves (Jennie): 1 of 2.5 cubic metres
- Allotment reserves (Debbie): 0.5 of 0.5 cubic metres
- Home reserves : 0.9 of 0.9 cubic metres
What we’ve 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 harvested the last of the carrots from the ground – we still have containers – and we were really pleased with the harvest, enough for a few weeks, we should have October sown – polytunnel grown – new season carrots by then.
- Although my plan is to grow all of the root veg for the local family on the allotment, we decided to switch that around due to the risk that we might face a more stringent lockdown. As a result we have all of our potatoes at home now and we are starting a container a week of carrots and have about 60 beetroot planted, with more to come. We’ve also planted a wider range of brassicas.
- The growlights have been amazing for the heat loving crops, beans, squash, courgettes, new zealand spinach, tomatoes. They show great potential for cool weather crops in autumn and winter.
- The early tomatoes are looking great and just coming into flower
- Debbie is doing an amazing job transforming the front garden, just as I’ve finished the back. She’s taken up maybe 20% of the lawn, creating a lot of space around the edges to plant onions. The ground is very nutrient poor though so it will need a bit of work to improve it. We also have space for a few Crown Prince squashes, a courgette, kale, perpetual spinach and chard.
- The early cucumbers are good too
- COVID 19
- Watering, no rain and good weather means lots of watering and not just the under cover beds, but the garlic too. I actually quite like watering, but watering when the taps are off and we see our stores declining is more stressful than it needs to be. It would be fine if the council would just give us a date when they plan for the water to be switched on but for some reason – known only to them – they refuse to do that.
- The hot sun scorched some of the small brassica seedlings AGAIN, normally this isn’t much of an issue because I can just sow again. Unfortunately it was the kalettes and I’m down to my reserve packet of seeds, so there’s only one more chance. No seeds available online now.
- The growlights accelerated the lettuce growth too much, lots of heat and light is not a good combination for lettuce. Fortunately these were only trial sowings to test the lights, I don’t need them or have anywhere to plant them.
- The growlights also did the same for the golden beetroot, which I do want, so I sowed another tray of those, fortunately I have plenty of seeds and we have loads of beets in store.
- The garlic is really suffering through lack of rain. Next year I think I’m going to plant it deeper. I’m thinking that I will re-purpose the big green garlic bed at home and leave it to mature just in case, fortunately I spaced it quite well as I only had about 100 cloves.