Monday, 30 April 2012

In the summer..

Seeing as I am not a first time vegetable grower, I can take huge quantities of optimism from freshly dug soil and the increasing daylight hours we are getting at the moment. But if you are a first time vegetable grower it can be difficult to generate such high hopes so early on. I think this is why a lot of people who take on allotments don't last even the first year. The first few months are a lot of hard work, the hardest work you will ever have to do on your plot and there is almost zero reward apart from dull, brown, soil. If it's going to be this hard, then why bother, especially when it comes to April and all it seems to do is rain, rain and well.. rain!

Amy had a little bit of experience with growing vegetables last year, but we did start late and we did buy plants from garden centres, so after planting our courgettes out we were harvesting them in 4 weeks. When you have to plant the seeds yourself in February, March and April and drag yourself up to the allotment on the rainiest of rainy days to water the seedlings in the greenhouse it can be quite a chore to focus on the long term goals.

The most frequently uttered phrase when we are at the allotment is 'in the summer...'. I have to remind Amy that in the summer we won't be looking at patches of bare earth and puddles on the patio, but in fact there will be runner bean plants towering over us, potatoes being earthed up weekly, pumpkins enjoying the beer and sun as much as we are, and sausages sizzling away on the mini barbeque. But snap out of it Martin! We are still looking at bare patches of land right now. But wait, should that be we were looking at bare patches of earth yesterday, but today something has changed. Yep, there is another weed, but what is this? The emergence of the first pea shoot, the onions have started to grow, wait that rhubarb can be picked today. Bring on the custard!

The vegetable section of the allotment (80% of the whole allotment) has been split up in to 4 large beds for alliums, potatoes, legumes and brassicas which will work on a classic rotational basis (sort of). There are also smaller beds for courgettes, sweetcorn, root vegetables, asparagus and pumpkins.

Approaching from the shed the bed on the right is for courgettes and is covered by carpet to keep the weeds off until we need the area,(I'll be doing a post sharing my courgette growing secrets in a week or so). Next the bed on the left is covered with fleece and has potatoes underneath, none have poked through yet, but I'm sure it won't be long, we planted them on Good Friday. On the right the allium bed is really taking off with 2 rows of shallots, 3 rows of red onions, 2 rows of brown onions, 1 row of perpetual onions and 2 rows of garlic...

Moving on up the lottie, the next bed on the right is currently covered in very well rotted horse muck which I need to dig in ready for the brassicas. I was in such a dilemma regards how to prepare my brassica bed, every book and every website conflicts with one another, so I trusted the oldest book I had, so fingers crossed!

The bed on the left is for the legumes. We started some broad beans off in an old grow bag at my Grandad's house and we have transfered them up to the allotment now they are big enough. We've planted a second lot of broad beans directly in to the soil to offer a successional crop..

The new bamboo structure for the runner beans is a big sign that good things are ahead...

Peas have also gone in to the ground and I've put the pea sticks in all ready to hide emerging pea shoots from pigeons, penguins and mice.

At the top of the allotment is one big wide bed, which is going to be 3 smaller beds for sweetcorn, pumpkins and root crops respectively. I just need to source some wood to make the bed divides, but that might not be done until the end of May or the beginning of June. It looks a bit messy, plenty more preperation needed before the end of the month..

So, although I keep saying 'in the summer..' the first rewarding signs of growth and the first harvest of raddish are already upon us. Looking back, there is life all over the plot. Broad beans, peas, potatoes, onions, shallots and garlic are all growing well in the ground. I can't wait for Amy to see what the allotment will look like in the summer, it's going to be spectacular. I promise!

Visit us again soon to see our amazing new soft fruit area!

Thanks again!



  1. Amy will be blown away - and before the summer too. In just a few weeks time she will notice a big difference - then just wait and see - she will be hooked

  2. It doesn't take long to see a big difference once everything starts growing. It's great to see a productive allotment though, with lots of things just waiting to be harvested.


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