Allotment Diary (February – Week 2)

We’ve had beautiful blue skies and sunshine all week, but it’s been extremely cold and with the wind-chill it’s been around -10c for most of the week.

One of this week’s lovely frosty walks, I love it when the sea freezes!

Temperatures inside the polytunnel at night have been around -4 to -6c and so I’ve relied upon fleece to keep things growing, especially the new plantings. The sunshine has tempted me out on a few good walks and cycle rides though, so it’s not been all bad!

The mid-point of my favourite – short – bike ride along the sea front

I’ve also put an extra layer of fleece under a few of my raised beds and low tunnels, again the ones with new plantings.

The polytunnel under fleece, kept almost frost free

The plants with no protection: onions, salad onions, brassicas, broad beans have all really suffered and I won’t be surprised to find that we’ve lost a lot of them to the wind-chill. The frozen ground means no water and the desiccating wind has left them looking very sorry for themselves!

The perennial kales and other brassicas, looking very sorry for themselves!

We only harvested for Debbie and I last week and that’s the same again this week, everything is very fragile. We still have plenty to eat of course and that’s the beauty of growing an intentional surplus, we never go hungry. My salad growing experiment on top of the wardrobe is doing well too and it looks as if it will be viable for me to grow salads through winter up there and give us at least a few meals a week to supplement pickings from the allotment.

5 week old lettuces, almost ready for harvest, a few leaves at a time

The only real ‘disaster’ – that I’m sure of – is the first two containers of potatoes that went to the polytunnel. No amount of fleece could protect them from -6c and so I lost those, but I have plenty to replace them in the conservatory, so I wasn’t too bothered. The main reason that I had them planted so early was to shoot a video, I don’t normally start planting super early potatoes until mid-February.

No planting this week of course, so I now have quite a backlog waiting to go in as soon as the weather warms up, which should be on Monday. Plenty of sowing though, 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

11 Responses

  1. It looks like your indoor lettuce is growing well. I’ve had good luck with it under my lights inside, but it is slow growing for me at best even with light on for 16 hours. I also have to watch for aphids.

  2. We just harvested the outer leaves and we had 16 litres, enough for the next 5 days. Great quality too

  3. Mark says:

    Hi Steve, I just found your blog/YouTube channel and I’m amazed by your results, congratulations! I was wondering if you could tell me at what intensity setting you keep your light onto the lettuce plants. By watching your videos I managed to see that you keep the mars light at a distance of about 20 inches from the plants, but found no reference regarding their intensity. I’m asking because I just sown my lettuce seeds and I would love to have results like yours once they germinate. Thanks for your help

  4. I have them at full intensity for lettuce, 80% for brassicas, lettuces like to grow cool too, hope they turn out well

  5. Mark says:

    Fantastic, thanks! I’m currently going through your Master planning Database and let me tell you that it is really something to be proud of. It clarify so many things for people like me who are new to gardening but still want to keep things as organised as possible. Thanks again!

  6. Thanks, it’s been a bit neglected this year as I’ve focussed on my ebook

  7. Garden losses or setbacks are tough–from weather, critters or insects. The unpredictability of weather events in a time of climate change does present challenges. A good bike ride or walk dims the losses, I’d think.

  8. I do t generally mind losses provided I have enough to eat, so it happened at the right time, spring growth is just starting again

  9. Phil says:

    Hey there! I’ve been following your work for a few months now and I really haven’t found anyone else who is as organised as you are, and your way of doing things is really resonating with me and with what I’d like to do. I would like to ask you a couple of questions, if you don’t mind answering them, both regarding growing seedlings indoor under lights:

    1) The first question is, how do you cope with plants that have different canopy height, say for example you place under the same lamp a lettuce and a tomato, and one outgrows the other by 6/8cm in a matter of days, would you still keep them under the same light even if the canopies are not all at the same level? I’m asking because I only have that one lamp, and I already know that this situation will occur soon or later.

    2) The second question is, is there a specific way that you use to harden of the plants before planting them outside?

    I’m new to this so I literally have no idea on how to do it, and I wouldn’t want to kill all the seedlings in a matter of days due to ignorance. Thanks for your help, and please keep posting because your content is incredibly valuable 🙂

  10. Thanks for the feedback Phil. Question 1. I have my lights quite high about 22” and they can go as close as 18” that’s the difference in height I allow for, once they get to 18” I move them to daylight, or to the edge of the lights, where they get daylight on one side and grow lights on the other. I also put plants on upturned dip trays to raise them up if needed. Question 2. I often don’t harden off, because I plant under plastic or fleece, or shade cloth in summer. If I’m not doing that I just move them onto my patio hardening off bench for a few hours and then a few hours more over about a week, even then I might still use fleece foe a week or two for the cold nights and wind. I will write a section in my ebook with more, next rainy day : all the best – Steve

  11. Phil says:

    That’s fantastic Steve, thank you so very much for your help and for taking the time to reply to my message. I look forward to soak in all the knowledge that you are infusing into that Ebook, as I already know it will be a great read. For the moment, I’ll try to follow your recommendation as much as possible, hoping that I will get similar results to yours in the end. Thanks again and have a good night.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: