Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Allotment Update

Well, the weather is horrid, but the allotment is thriving. I’m picking chard, spinach, radishes, beetroot, lettuce and mangetout. My cucumbers and gherkins are sulking; I’m afraid that I was encouraged by some mild weather a few weeks ago and planted them out too early. I’m hoping that they survive and start to shoot upwards when the weather starts getting a bit warmer – note my optimistic use of the word ‘when’. Last year I had so many cucumbers I managed to make several pots of cucumber pickle, this year I’ll probably be lucky to get a couple of salads, oh well………

On a more positive note, my tomatoes are doing splendidly. After two disastrous years with blight wiping out my entire crop, I’ve rather over compensated. I’ve got six plants inside the greenhouse, three plants in a sunny spot outside the greenhouse and nine plants on the allotment. I love home grown tomatoes and felt very cheated to have hardly any in the previous two years, so I’m not taking any chances! I like to freeze some so that I can chuck them into sauces, and with roasted veg. In the depths of winter when everything is starting to taste like cardboard nothing perks up cooking like some tart, home-grown tomatoes. It would also be nice to have some to give away – you’re always popular if you turn up to people’s houses with a bag full of fresh tomatoes.

My broad beans are a bit late this year, not sure why. I raised the plants in my greenhouse, as usual, and then planted them out when they were about 20cm high. It took them ages to get going outside – maybe the fluctuating weather again, not sure. I grew a different variety this year (can’t remember offhand which one, but I usually plant Aquadulce and a red one), so maybe it’s not living up to its hype. Now, they’re looking a bit more promising, and I think I’ll be picking them in the next couple of weeks. My fellow allotmenters (I might have made that word up, but you know what I mean) who put their broad beans straight into the ground over the winter are already harvesting, which is slightly galling, but inevitable.

I can’t overwinter any of my crops as my plot is infested with Horsetail, Mare’s Tail, Witches Broom, call it what you will it is evil, evil, evil! Unless I leave my plot fallow for several years and carry out a rigorous spraying regime, I will never get rid of it. So, I just dig the whole plot very deeply every year (keeps me fit) to minimise its impact. Still, every time I see one of its pernicious little shoots poking through the surface I’m filled with rage and a feeling of helplessness. It doesn’t seem to affect the crops, but it offends my sense of aesthetics – I like my plot to be productive and attractive!!

I'll go and take some photos at the weekend.

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