Allotment Diary (October 2020 – Week 1)

This week was forecast to be very wet but as usually happens here, very little rain actually arrived.  That was annoying as I’d moved a lot of water around to capture that rain and now I have to move it back from long term storage.  I can’t really complain though as I’ve had a wonderful time working on the allotments, rather than sheltering at home.  As it happens I’m writing this diary on Friday as Saturday is a write off, rain all day!

My focus continues to be clearing and replanting beds and I’ve finally completed the new squash bed!  I’ve raised it up 6″ using wood salvaged from Jennie’s plot and that’s allowed me to add 400 litres of well rotted horse manure, 1,000 litres of home made compost and another 400 litres of mushroom compost as a weed suppressing mulch.  That’s a lot of food for the squash to enjoy in summer.  Right now though I’ve planted the whole bed to field beans and interplanted a mix of yellow and red onion sets,  multi-sown plugs of onions and garlic.  I’m very pleased with the result!  It really tidies up the messiest part of the plot.

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This bed is the last part of my plot that’s still infested with bindweed and having cleared the raspberries to create it, I how have a fighting chance of irradiating it in a couple of years.

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It was my eldest daughters birthday this week and it’s our tradition to hike together, but lock down scrambled that idea, so we walked together on the phone.  Two wonderful hours, chatting away and telling each other about our respective surroundings and sharing photos and videos as we walked.  It wasn’t as good as walking side by side, but it was a remarkably effective alternative as I always find that conversation flows more freely while walking!

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In addition to planting the squash bed I also cleared the second, of my three, pepper beds and replanted that to spinach.  I harvested about 25 litres of peppers which Debbie transformed into a jam.  I also harvested the sweet potato bed and it was – as always – very disappointing.  I’ve now tried growing sweet potatoes three times and I’ve never managed to harvest enough tubers to exceed the cost of the slips.  Since I don’t actually like sweet potato (the family does) this is actually a bit of a relief, although I did harvest a lot of leaves.

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I’ve now grudgingly admitted that our August and September are just too wet and chilly for sweet potatoes, even under cover.  Next year the bed can be put to much better use!  Anyway it was replanted to Grenoble Red lettuce and I also replanted the purselane bed to the same,  Grenoble Red being my favourite winter lettuce.

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Harvest wise we continue to pick a huge amount of apples, pears, tomatoes and sweet/hot peppers as well as our usual year round fare.  The cucumbers failed us for a week, but we have quite a few coming again now.  Although the outdoor beans have effectively finished now we have a plentiful supply from the under-cover plants.

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In other news I continue to simplify/eliminate the allotments and my weekly chores.

I now have dip tanks all around my plot to ease watering and these are connected up to hosepipes that allow me to easily refill them.  The hoses (from Jennie’s plot) run around the perimeter of the plot, out of the way so I don’t trip over them like I used to.  I can also use my battery powered pump to refill the tanks over winter, when we don’t have mains water.  I’ve also created a new storage area at the back of my shed, which has allowed me to remove loads of clutter from the plot and poly-tunnel.

I’ve also tidied up some of my technology.  I’ve now created a new Airtable database that contains all of my YouTube videos.  This provided a great opportunity to learn how to use screen scraping tools and write scripts to batch download thumbnails and upload them to my own database.  Airtable is so much more flexible than youtube and allows me to sort/filter my data every which way and easily publish it.  I’m also able to link my Types, Varieties and Sowing databases to my videos, creating a much more integrated experience.  See later in this post a view I created onto my videos just for the diary, like all of my other views they automatically provide the data appropriate to this week with effectively no effort.

Now that I’ve done this proof of principle with uploading my YouTube data I now have many planned enhancements coming over the winter months, provided we have some rainy days for me to work on them.

Here’s this weeks sowing log.

Sowed this week

As already mentioned I’m well on with the planting now, this is what I’ve planted this week.

Planted this week

One of my viewers commented recently that although I publish all of the varieties that I grow, I don’t make it easy to find the seed supplier.  Well I do my best to please.  I now have a public view onto my database that lists every seed packet I’ve used in the last few years, as well as those I have in stock.  You can find it here and embedded below.

It’s worth noting that these embedded views are very powerful, you can search, sort, filter and export from them.

Here’s our harvests for the year so far, with the most recent at the top.  We’ve now passed last year’s total harvest value and we still have a huge amount of food in the ground to harvest this year, so I’m expecting to harvest about £2,500 more than last year.  This is party as a result of spending £200 extending the growing area in the back garden, a very nice payback!

Here’s a list of the preserves for the year.

I always like to keep a track of or first harvest dates and you can find a summary of those here:

YouTube videos for the week can be found here:

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

8 Responses

  1. All that compost and manure ought to make the veggies grow for sure! Too bad about the sweet potatoes. They are an easy to grow crop, though I struggle with regular potatoes.

  2. I’ve seen plenty of people succeed with sweet potatoes, but none in North west England!

  3. You’ve reminded me that I need to plant spinach for transplant. Most years I direct seed but last year the seeds were disrupted by moles so I sowed seed for later transplant. It was very successful so I’ll do it again. Our weather has been so warm I haven’t been able to transplant my brassicas and I wouldn’t dare to plant carrots, beets or lettuce. When the days get into the upper 80’s and my garden doesn’t get much of a breeze everything just bakes. I’m anxious to get going. The weather is supposed to drop to the 70’s on Thursday so I have the bed marked out for my 18 cauliflower plants with 40% shade cloth to go over the bed.

    I responded to your comment on my blog today. Thank you for your comments. I do learn much from your experiences and knowledge.

  4. The sweet potatoes are a heat lover for sure, and I that’s one thing they can’t do without. I’m not sure why I struggle with regular potatoes, since I used to grow them all the time at my old place. But that soil was heavier, and the soil we have now is silty and lean despite my adding copious amounts of compost. I believe a change in weather is also to blame, since our spring weather turns hot so quickly.

  5. I think you are right, potatoes like the moderate spring we have here, you transition so quickly from too cold to too hot. My sweet potatoes are all root, they never swell into tubers. The roots are only about 1/2 to 2/3” thick. They still get used in all manner of ways, but they never cover the cost of buying the slips.

  6. 18 cauliflowers! That’s quite a crop. We like Graffiti, but we grow a few other colourful varieties too. Now that we are giving up 1/3 of our land though we will grow fewer cauliflower and have to be content with broccoli

  7. Hi Steve .Saw your beautiful carrot son winter planting in poly tunnel.I cannot get my carrots to thicken up as yours do.Would appreciate your method advice please.I have tried in large containers but no luck for many seasons.Brian Kirkbymoorside North Yorkshire

  8. Hi Brian, I grow 95% of my carrots in soil, but the very late (August sown) ones in the polytunnel I grow in multi-purpose compost with a handful of blood fish and bone mixed in, along with half a handful of seaweed meal : All the best – Steve

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