Allotment Diary (June – Week 2)
It’s been a tough week, I started to feel ill on Tuesday and basically my body shut down on me. I’ve felt incredibly weak, climbing the stairs is a big effort, muscles sore, throat sore, light fever. I’m still feeling rough as I write this, but fortunately I felt fine on Monday and that’s all I needed.
I managed to get the whole plot watered (no rain for a few weeks) and more importantly I cleared the purple sprouting broccoli bed and it’s underplanted field beans and spinach. It took a while to clear it of weeds and recondition it ready for planting again. The soil was incredibly dry, those big PSB plants really suck the water out of a bed in spring!
I managed to get most of the storage beetroot crop planted. I have one more tray to plant in about 3-4 weeks once the broad beans have finished. I’ve also thinned all of the winter/spring carrots, which is a huge milestone. Carrots are a very important crop, but germination can be very variable, so it’s great to have them germinated, thinned and netted! I’ve also planted the autumn carrots.
So now all I have to plant are the carrots that we will sow in July and harvest in mid spring, these go into containers and bridge the gap between the crop in the ground (finishes in March) and the new season crop (ready in May).
The rest of the week I’ve spent my days at home, pottering around the garden, sowing a few seeds and pricking out a few seedlings. I’m trying an experiment to break the dormancy of newly harvested early potatoes, so I can plant them again now, to get me new seed potatoes for January. I’m using a technique I discovered in a research paper, see my write up here.
I’ve spent a total of 10 hours on the plot this week, most of it on Monday, but Debbie has taken me in the car in the evenings to water the polytunnel and side shoot and train the tomatoes.
Harvests continue to be strong, although we are definitely in the hungry gap now. We don’t have a shortage in the traditional hungry gap period of April and May, but when June arrives we have so much of our growing space dedicated to summer crops (not yet ready) and autumn/winter crops that it’s a tricky balance to get right. In particular we have to accept a shortage of flowering brassicas (cauliflower, calabrese etc). We are not complaining though as we had so many of them though spring!
The peas have done exceptionally well this year, as have the over-wintered onions.
The big disappointment though has been the oriental spinach. The early sowing is thriving, but it’s replacement is already going to seed, having been planted just as a heat wave hit, we might get one harvest off it. I’ve sown more plants and fortunately we also have New Zealand spinach – which is only a week away – so we won’t go short ourselves, but we won’t have much to share in a few weeks time.
A slight annoyance is that the three successions of peas have all flowered at the same time, it’s been a strange year. The fourth succession is about 4 weeks away from harvest.
Fortunately the three successions of beans are behaving themselves. The early plants in the tunnel are ready for their first small harvest, the dwarf French beans are about 3 weeks away and the main-crop should be ready in about 6 weeks. I’ve still not decided whether I have space for a late crop.
In yet another example of successional growing in action, the early strawberries in the polytunnel have now finished and are ready for composting. The second earlies are now delivering two handfuls a day and the main crop are a couple of weeks away. The late crop hasn’t started flowering yet. The new season beetroot is now ready for harvest, but we still have several weeks left in store, which makes me wonder whether early beetroot is worth growing.
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. We will never harvest as much again as we have less land now, our objective has changed now.
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 and dried parsley for immediate use!
YouTube videos for the week can be found here: