Allotment Diary (May 2020 – Week 5)
Overview of the week
For some reason I allowed myself to forget just how busy spring is on the allotments and in the kitchen garden. Incredibly I scheduled three holidays during spring, all of which – thank goodness – were cancelled as a result of the corona virus, I’m not sure how I would have coped otherwise. Next year I need to remember that my holiday period is from mid-October until March, spring needs me to spend 4 days a week gardening and then summer is free and easy, with lots of day trips, but too hot and busy to holiday. It’s a nice seasonal balance and provided I set my expectations right, very rewarding with just the right balance between challenge and relaxation.
Anyway it’s been a fantastic week, the weather has been great, I’ve managed a lot of time away from the allotments, but enjoyed every moment that I’ve been there. I like to go early morning and early evening during summer, which leaves lots of time for cycling, walking, pottering around the garden, reading etc.
I’ve also given the greenhouse a really good clear-out so that it’s ready for it’s role as ‘drying space’ for the garlic, shallots and onions, it will return to greenhouse duties in September.
I was very surprised this week to have another stupendous harvest! last week I was anticipating a big drop as the field beans, spinach and chard are finishing, but we managed one more spinach harvest and the chard struggled on. What I didn’t expect was such a big broad bean harvest.
Our harvest total for this year is £4,022 and continues to show a significant increase on last year, so far £800 more, a 20% increase, which has definitely been nice to have.
We have now easily harvesting more from our little back garden than from the allotments, which seems incredible until you remember that this is the strategy. The garden has been designed to provide most of the food in summer, leaving the allotments to focus on the food for the other 9 months of the year.
What we’ve harvested and eaten
We harvested £285 of veg this week, a small decrease from last week, but much more than last year’s £228.
We picked: broad beans, fresh onions, calabrese, mangetout peas, strawberries, courgettes, green garlic, spring cabbage, new potatoes, cucumbers, new season carrots, asparagus, rhubarb, radish, chard, red and golden beetroot, sprout leaves, lots of types of kale, spring onions, mixed herbs, true spinach and a lot of lettuce. We also raided the store for: squash, garlic and dried apples and pears. Bold items are new this week.
What we’ve bought this week
Videos this week
Now it’s summer I’ve finished making daily videos. In part that’s because the lockdown is easing and life is returning to normal, but also there’s just less of interest to show, everyone can and is growing food in summer.
What I’ve sown
A few trays of lettuce
What We’ve planted
We planted the summer squash this week:
- 24 Crown Price squash on the allotment
- 2 Crown Price squash in the front garden
- 5 Hurricane butternut squash on the allotment
- 36 Sweetcorn Incredible on Jennie’s plot
- About 20 sweetcorn Earlibird on Debbie’s plot and the front garden
- The summer flowering brassicas: green sprouting broccoli, purple sprouting broccoli, calabrese and romanesco cauliflower
- A small bed of kale on my plot
- 4 Crimson Crush tomatoes on Debbie’s plot
- 24 Oca plants on my plot and Jennie’s plot
- Cucumbers in hanging baskets and climbing ones in the polytunnel
- Cucamelons in hanging baskets in the polytunnel
- The last few sweet peppers in the polytunnel
- The sweet potatoes in a cold-frame
- A perennial kale
What I’ve potted on
First harvests of the year
A very good crop of broad beans, enough for about eight meals
What we’ve run out of in store
- Fresh apples, week 11
- New potatoes
- Main crop potatoes
- Carrots, the last few have gone to seed
- 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
- New potatoes from 2019, Week 16
- Winter cabbages, week 16
- Last year’s kale. week 18
- Spinach Matador and Red Kitten, week 22
What’s left in store
The store is is still on good shape:
- Beetroot – 2 large boxes
- Carrots – None (we have new carrots though)
- Onions/shallots – None (we have fresh onions though)
- Garlic – None (we have green garlic though)
- Dried pears – l large cool bag
- Dried apples – 1 large cool bag
- Potatoes – none (we have new potatoes though)
- Squash – 2 Crown Prince
Loads of stuff in the freezer too and dozens of preserves.
Water Reserves and Rainfall
The taps have now been switched on, so I won’t be monitoring our reserves as they will be fully depleted by the end of the month.
What we’ve processed for preserving
Debbie is now harvesting a lot of herbs and bay leaves
- We are enjoying exceptional weather for the time of year, actually for any time of year
- The back garden is now more productive than the allotments
- I gave away a dozen kale cuttings last week
- The greenhouse is clean and tidy and ready for the garlic in a few weeks time
- I’m gradually increasing the load on my knees, cycling and harvesting and they are coping
- We now have beans on most of the early plants and so we should start harvesting next week
- We now have lots of fruits on the Centercut Squash plants, so we should be harvesting within a week or so
- Watering is becoming a real chore. We are applying half the RHS recommended amounts because we have invested so much in water retentive mulches and other water saving techniques, but it’s still a lot and can never replace a good storm!
- The lettuce beds growing too quickly, we can’t harvest them fast enough and they are degrading quicker as a result. Some are already hearting up, so I am racing to try and replace them by early July. Next year we will sow smaller successions monthly, rather than follow Charles Dowdings advice which is much less resilient to pests and weather issues.