Allotment Diary (May – Week 4)
The first few days of last week were such fun as I worked hard to clear all of my low tunnels to plant peppers. These tunnels were a bit of a mess, full of spinach going to seed and lettuces full of slugs and every bed full of Marestail (my worst weed). The old hearted lettuces were intentional though, as they attract slugs and act as a brilliant trap. I love planting, taking an old tired bed and transforming it into a pristine reconditioned one and popping in the new plants, full of promise. This is the only time my beds look pristine in summer!
The weather’s been good too and so I’ve managed to get in frequent walks. The cafes are open again too, so I’m now back spending two hours every morning reading and doing creative work at one of my favourites. I feel this restores balance to my otherwise too active life.
In the afternoon, after hiking or allotment work is over I’m now able to relax in the jacuzzi, steam and sauna at the health club and stretch out a bit with a short swim. Life has returned to normal.
I’ve also been working through my records, assessing my dates and volumes. This sounds a bit boring, but it’s actually been very exciting, to see how much simpler next spring is going to be. My new grow lights have proved themselves and I can now sow much later and because growing conditions are so predictable, with very few spares. The timings will also work out much better, with peppers finishing under lights, just as the tomatoes go under them. I’m also finishing off a year of experiments, so next year I will grow about 2/3 of the varieties that I have the previous year.
Sowing has slowed to a crawl now, which is a welcome relief and planting from now on is just one day a week, following last harvest days. Harvests continue to be strong too, although the cold weather means beetroot are late, but everything else is fine.
I’m particularly pleased with the calabrese harvest this year, something I worked quite hard on improving.
I always work hard on the salad mixes, but this year has been the best yet.
I’m also pleased to be harvesting the first onions of the year. We ran out of stored onions about three weeks ago and have been happily eating big spring onions, but the polytunnel delivered the first earlies this week, we have two weeks of these, then the second earlies will be ready, then the early main crop in mid-June will last until the main crop in July.
The last few days of the week were rainy, perfect weather for the peppers and tomatoes to get settled into their new homes, tucked up in the polytunnels and low tunnels. Next week will be sunny spells and light winds, so they should start growing again.
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: