Allotment Diary (January – Week 4)

Another week of almost no sun and a lot of rain, the surrounding plots are almost completely flooded now and I have stepping stones on the path to allow me to get to mine. Its been a grim gardening month, that’s for sure. The main casualty continues to be the lettuce crops, which have completely stalled for the first time, otherwise we are still harvesting well.

Stepping stone access to my plot

I’ve done almost no work on the allotment, a total of 4 hours and most of that was harvesting and pruning. The best that can be said of January is that I’m well on top of everything. All of the ground work is done, berries, apples and pears are pruned. Every bed that can be is planted and I have loads of seeds sown, germinated and nearing planting time. I’m still visiting the site most days, but mainly for the interesting walk!

A great place to walk without lots of people around

In fact I’m still planting, this week I put in a bed of early sprouts that will be forced for lovely tender leaves in the hungry gap. I also potted on my early baking potatoes. All the planting from earlier in the month is growing on well. Much of the over-wintered veg is doing well, apart from the salads, but the new plantings are strong. The garlic is looking great, the beans are up, the spinach is a life saver!

I’m now resigned to poor harvests for a few weeks, cooked veg harvests are still excellent, but I’m not planning to harvest salads and I’m eating fruit salads instead, it’s not so bad.

These mini winter harvests are such a delight, but note! no salads this week!

The photo above is however our total harvest for the week! We are really starting to feel the jack of Jennie’s plot this week, no cauliflower, no purple sprouting broccoli, no winter cauliflowers, very few field bean tops for example; next year will be better!

This all sounds quite depressing, but in a way it’s the opposite. Seedlings production is going really well and I’m already surrounded by tremendous growth. I’m thrilled to bits with the young calabrese, cauliflowers, cabbages, kales, lettuces, peppers, chillis and much more. The early potatoes are growing brilliantly and the harvest from the stored pots of new potatoes is excellent.

Dune walking in the rain

I’ve also managed to get in a few good hikes – albeit in the rain – along the beach, through the dunes and back via the countryside.

Countryside walking past the flooded fields, the sheep seem happy enough

I’ve also managed to keep up with videos for this week’s activities and more importantly my eBook chapters are getting finished just before they need to be written for the veg concerned.

Draft copy of my eBook (click to open)

My sowing timeline is almost totally dictated by grow light space now, which actually helps me decide what I can sow when, which is a big help as I’m often tempted to sow too much too early! Here’s what I sowed this week:

Here’s what we planted this week

Here’s our harvests for the year so far, with the most recent at the top.  We hit our target for last year and harvested over £12,000.

Here’s a list of the preserves for last 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. Neil Munro says:

    Hi Steve,
    Thanks for sharing the outline of your book. I recall a brief conversation 2 years ago with you about the idea for a book starting from the meals and working back to the growing as there is no point in growing what the kitchen will not use. I think what I am saying is that we are in violent agreement. I could look at this positively and say you’ve saved me the trouble, or negatively and throw away my notes and jottings. Probably both I guess. Anyway, your way ahead of me so good on you.
    I too worked as an analyst and find the objective driven approach refreshing. Too often gardening publications were driven by what we’ve always done in the past handed down through generations. My great grandfather was a gardener in a walled garden in Gordon Castle in Moray and I realised that it was his learned practices which had been passed through the generations. These were the practices which I had learned as a child. Very hard to break! It was not unitl I undertook a C.. Dowding course that I realised I needed to look at things differently.
    Getting back to the book, I think that the chapters follow a relevant and obvious process.
    I’m particularly interested to see your ‘how to make this book your own, by adapting it to your climate, soil type, budget.’. I’ve often ranted about individual contexts, for instance, the time a person has available, the amount of perople in the family, the purpose of growing (not just production) which could be teaching children about patience, life, death etc.On this subject, I often see arguments on forums where there is a lack of respect for individuals where there is an assumption people can access certain resources.

    Very best regards,

  2. On the topic of the book Neil, I don’t know whether you spotted that I’m only writing an eBook and the full content of the book will be available for anyone else to build on and publish their own version. I know already that lots of people want a published book, so don’t throw away those notes! It’s interesting that you mention Charles, he’s taken lots of old market gardening techniques and popularised them, he’s done great work challenging a few myths, but he’s also very stuck in his ways, just like we all are at risk of, if we let any set of ideas become like a religion to us. I’m very keen on the make the book your own section, I’m looking forward to writing it, I do feel that successful gardeners get very confused about translating their experiences to other conditions. : All the best – Steve

  3. Andrew Burton says:

    HI Steve, thanks for your videos and blogs – Im just getting going with veggies – over the years the veg garden lay dormant, but it sprang back to life last year, and I suddenly realised that I might be able to make a proper living from the land (as opposed to the inbuilt family diatribe of dont farm, theres no money in it, despite coming from a family of farmers). I am at the crucial planning stage for this year, and yes, I am now probably a little behind where I would have liked to be. I spent about a week trying to get my head around airtable, then the free trial ran out. Your videos suggest that you are just using the free version – so my question is, have you come across any glaring gaps in its functionality or should I just plough on filling in all of last years data and then this years plans. I did notice that the file size gets limited when the trial version ended so pics of seed packets and the like might have to be left out.

  4. Hi Andrew, I’m using the pro version now because I have thousands of photos in it and I didn’t compress them. It’s free for me for life now though, because I have so many referral credits! I don’t think there’s any limits though. One thing you might consider is loading all of your photos during the trial and then subscribing to an add-on that compresses them all in place, I’ve suggested that to a few people. The add-on will set you back about £30/month but you only need to use it once unless you are doing seed packets, even then once a year might be enough.

    The other option is Notion, it is cheaper and has much more generous limits. It’s not quite as slick and powerful as Airtable, but in some ways it’s more flexible. It might do everything you need.

    : All the best – Steve

  5. Andrew says:

    Thanks for your reply Steve, I lost all motivation when my free trial ran out as I’d spent quite a bit of time getting my head round Airtable. I was tempted to just bite the bullet and pay for the full programme but shied away. Seed packets are not the be all and end all but it feels that bit more complete with images in situ. I will have a look into Notion and add-on options and go from there. Many thanks for your words, and videos. Yours in soil, Andrew

  6. Kathryn Hobbs says:

    I have not grown field or Broad beans before but giving it a great. My question is, if the tops are picked for salads, can you grow them on for beans? The broad bean plants I have seen are columnar, so if you pick out the tops do they become bushy? Thanks for your videos, I am gradually learning a lot from them…….the collards have been great!!!
    Stay well.

  7. Hi Kathryn, if you ouch out the growing tip of field beans, new shoots grow from the base, same with broad beans, although they are not as vigorous. This should help, if not let me know : all the best – Steve

  8. I can understand that, I’m thinking of paying the £30 to compress all of the images in my template and then it will word in the free version : all the best – Steve

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