Allotment Diary (August 2020 – Week4)
We made a big family decision this week, we decided that we would give up Jennie’s allotment, my favourite allotment! Actually it was an easy decision. For positive personal reasons Jennie and Jon will no longer have time to work their plot and that would mean more of the load falling on Debbie and I, mostly on me. Since I’m committed to working less on the allotments each year it was a simple decision.
There’s a little more to it though, this year I’ve felt the wear and tear on my body a little more than before, sufficient that I’ve decided I need to institute a regular yoga practice into my relatively busy days and that time has to come from somewhere.
Debbie and I had already decided that we wanted to grow more food for fewer people and we attempted that this year, but each year we end up growing more food for more people. We just get better at growing, faster than we are able to adapt the allotments to less productive crops.
So in summary we are reducing our growing area by a third, we are growing more perennial and other less productive – but luxury – crops and we are halving the number of people we grow for, focusing in on growing more food for our immediate family. There’s no surprises here, this is all going to plan, although maybe two years before we expected to execute that plan. Now that we’ve made the decision the timing feels right though and another two years would have dragged out the inevitable beyond us enjoying it.
As I mentioned Jennie’s plot is my favourite, it’s beautiful and simple and we’ve invested a lot of love, effort and a little money into it. We’ve also had a lot of fun there, but we are happy about the decision. We believing in giving and in this case the allotment will be a lovely gift to the next tenant.
Ironically this decision has meant even more work than usual this week as I accelerate planned changes to the rest of the plots to accommodate the over-wintered crops that normally go on Jennie’s. I’ve also had to do a lot of re-planning, but it’s been a fabulous week, lots of hard, happy work and wonderful harvests! We are giving the plot up at the end of the year, so we will be harvesting a lot on the run up to Christmas!
We are also approaching holiday season, so we need to be ahead in the garden, so that we can relax knowing that we can take a couple of weeks off and not be too far behind.
I’ve also been doing a lot of sowing, with much more to come in September, here’s my completed sowing log for August, most of it is done now. Growing under lights is changing all of my timings, pushing many of them back by two weeks and making them much more consistent and stress free.
I’ve also been very busy planting, most of it for autumn at this stage. I removed one of the New Zealand spinach beds (we freeze the bulk harvest) and re-planted with true spinach. I’ve also started planting the autumn lettuces on the allotment, but not many, our main focus is winter/spring lettuces there. I’ve attempted to transplant some of the smaller purple sprouting broccoli from Jennie’s plot, there’s not much chance of success, but it’s worth giving it a go.
I’ve also finished adding the extra 6″ layers to my cold-frames and built a big new raised bed in place of a very old gooseberry patch. We have gooseberries scattered around the plots, but this particular bed always suffered from mildew and the only reason it existed was that digging up up was a horrible prickly job! Now it’s done the extra space will ease the pain of adapting to life without Jennie’s plot.
Harvesting is always a delight in August, this year we doubled down on tomatoes, peppers and winter squash, hoping to really beef up our winter store so that we never have to think “can we afford to eat this” in winter in fear of a shortage later in the year.
Debbie has been busy preserving and her focus is now switching to passata and ketchups. We will soon be dehydrating the apples and pears too. The berry harvest is almost over now and so my daily fruit salads will soon be replaced by green smoothies again.
I’ve also done a test harvest of the main-crop potatoes, the King Edward tub was quite poor (1kg/tuber) the Vivaldi was better (2kg/tuber), I’ve not taken a look at the Sarpo Mira yet, but I’m hoping for 70kg in total which is more than enough for us! Especially as we should have another 20kg of late salad potatoes if they survive the blight.
I always like to keep a track of or first harvest dates and you can find a summary of those here (in reverse order):
Youtube videos for the month can be found here: