Allotment Diary (May – Week 2)
At the beginning of the week I was feeling somewhat over-whelmed by the amount of sowing I’d been doing and even more so by the volume of seedlings that need daily care. This week I gradually worked through that overwhelm, got a lot of planting done, read my diary from last year and reassured myself that all will be well in a couple of weeks.
My big non-gardening related news this week is that the pool is open and I’m back swimming every day. I’ve chosen the 2:30 slot, which works perfectly for me, allowing me to hike/bike/garden in the morning and then relax in the pool and by the poolside in the afternoon.
I’ve been particularly encouraged to see the weather warming up next week and although there will be a little rain and plenty of clouds between sunny days, it looks warm enough to start planting out my spare peppers and tomatoes, after I’ve harvested enough veg to make room for them.
Assuming the warming trend continues I will then be planting 1/4 of my under-cover summer veg, each week, until late May when I will switch over to the outdoor planting in June. May is always the hardest work and the highest stress month for me, but by June I realise that it was all worth it and look forward to a relaxed summer.
Fortunately I’ve also had time for a good hike with my grandson and spent time looking after his baby sister a few times too. Unfortunately it’s been too cold and windy for cycling, but most of the week has been lovely and sunny and that combination is just perfect for spending time on the allotment where I have the polytunnel to retreat to. We’ve also had a lot of rain, well a lot for us, by the end of today around 70mm. It’s impossible for me to lay down that amount of water by hand, so it’s a huge bonus as we normally don’t have any rain in spring.
My favourite activity in the garden is harvesting, but I enjoy planting a lot too and this week I got to plant my most important brassica crop of the year, kalettes, this single bed will start to provide us with leafy greens in July and continue to provide us with kalette tops (like little cabbages) in early winter and the kalettes themselves (flower sprouts) all through winter and early spring, finally providing us with a flush of leaves and rapini in mid spring. I’m taking my last plants out on Monday! I have a growing guide for kalettes in my book.
Into the kalette bed I inter-planted over 200 leeks. I tried this last year and it worked a treat, provided you don’t mind your leeks being a bit bent and crooked.
I’ve also planted 80 dwarf french bean seeds in the ground, under a low cover, the soil is about 12c on average, warmer in the day, but not less than 10c at night, so I’m hopeful. It’s a lot less effort than module sowing!
Finally I get to talk about the harvests! We keep harvesting a wonderful bounty of cool weather crops. As we run out of things in store, the following week the new season harvests are ready, which is very gratifying. So far we’ve had this smooth transition for onions, garlic, potatoes, carrots and kale; the most challenging crops for us to have year round. I’m hopeful that we will also have similar continuity for beetroot in a few weeks. In our climate it’s easy to have salads, flowering brassicas, spring onions etc year round.
There are many plants though that we can’t achieve year round availability of and these are almost all the legumes and fruits, so it’s really wonderful to enjoy our first harvests of courgettes, cucumbers and strawberries! The broad beans and early peas won’t be far behind.
We do have a few early tomato plants, but there’s no rush, as we long ago became comfortable with buying tomatoes (we very rarely buy peas, courgettes, strawberries and cucumbers). We have access to wonderful tasting commercial varieties, very close to the quality we can grow. Right now we are eating fantastic locally grown tomatoes, from heated greenhouses, not great for the planet but great for eating.
I’ve a new way of tracking my first harvest dates now. With a few exceptions I’m only tracking first harvests from sowings in 2021, but it’s still useful. The beauty of this new system is that it’s fully integrated with my sowing records, so I automatically get ‘sowing to harvest’ and ‘planting to harvest’ data. New firsts are at the top.
Here’s what I sowed this week:
Here’s what we planted this week.
We are now at full harvest volume, feeding everyone on our target list for this year. We have a way to go before we are growing everything they eat each week, but for dozen or so things that are available in the hungry gap, we are happy.
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. We don’t have any preserves this year yet, although Debbie is certainly making a lot of stewed rhubarb for immediate use!
YouTube videos for the week can be found here: