Allotment Diary (November – Week 1)
Last week’s stay at home order ended early because we managed to get a COVID test mailed to us and we were cleared the day after, it was a very quick and efficient process. As a result we had a relaxing few days tidying up the garden and enjoyed a fantastic week out and about and on the allotment this week.
Lock down has had it’s ups and downs but on the whole it’s been a wonderful experience for me. I’ve rediscovered just how much I love the simple life and how little I need to be completely fulfilled and happy. I’ve also rediscovered the true joy of growing all of our own food. Last year and early this year I think I took on a bit too much and for the first time I felt as if it was a bit of a chore.
Since giving up Jennie’s plot we’ve had a lot more time, enough to allow me to be truly on top of things. That state of relaxation means a lot to me and a big part of that is being able to spend time on a plot that’s in good order, tidy, weed free, healthy and beautiful. That’s even more true of the garden. Once achieved a garden that’s in good order is easier to maintain than one that’s out of control, so it’s a virtuous cycle of improvement. Of course each year I also get better at gardening, which helps tremendously too.
This winter I’ve put a lot more effort into planning for spring, winter is always a very productive time for us, we have an amazing array of produce. But mid and late spring can be a bit of a challenge and although we don’t run out, we do start to ration ourselves and our family a bit. This is especially true for spinach, carrots, beetroot and salad/baking potatoes. This year I’m much more confident that we will have an abundance of all of these, although nothing is certain in gardening. I’m relishing the challenge though and we are certainly not compromising on harvests in autumn and winter to achieve this spring abundance.
There are four big changes that I’m making to achieve this abundant spring. First I’m sowing a lot more carrots and spinach now, so that I gain 3-4 weeks of extra growth next year. Second I’m replanting the polytunnel salad/spinach beds in February, gradually transitioning them to carrots, turnips, beetroot, brassica leaves, calabrese and cauliflower by early March. Third I’m turning my winter beds over more rapidly when-ever the come free and finally I’m delaying planting my peppers and tomatoes for 2 weeks to give me time to bring in these spring harvests.
This week’s allotment jobs have been mostly focused on tidying up. Clearing old containers of beans, sweet corn etc that accumulated and reconditioning these and re-sowing with carrots. Weeding the paths, tying in the brassicas to supports before the winds hit. Clearing the outdoor tomatoes and sowing field beans and garlic.
I’m also continuing to sow seeds, making sure that I have a stock of spring onions, broad beans, lettuce and field beans to fill any gaps that open up. Right now though all of these beds are bursting at the seams with produce that needs regular harvesting. I’m particularly pleased with the outdoor salad beds:
and the outdoor spinach beds. The polytunnel beds are running a couple of weeks behind, which is to plan, as we don’t really need their produce until winter.
Last week we only did a small harvest for immediate family, which was a bit of a treat and a taster for what’s to come next year when we reduce the number of people we feed. Debbie and I are definitely looking forward to this smaller Sunday harvest, especially in bad weather.
So far then, everything sounds rosy. Although I’m a little concerned that a lot of my garlic has failed to break surface yet, some of it planted 4-6 weeks ago, I know I need to be patient! However all of my onion sets are up and most of my field beans, and I have spare garlic and beans in modules to fill gaps.
We’ve also had so much rain in October that all of my water storage is full already!
Here’s this weeks sowing log.
As already mentioned I’m well on with the planting now, this is what I’ve planted this week.
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: