Getting going on the Allotment

Having spent as many dry days as possible over the winter, putting in fencing and gates and digging over nearly all the plot I am now ready for spring. So far I have planted some broad beans and some winter lettuce which are growing well under cover. I have put in some pea seeds which have not done anything – they were only put in a week ago, some are under fleece and some under a cage to stop the pigeons.

I have decided to keep one leek going and see if I can grow another crop from the seeds – something of an experiment.  My globe artichokes are beginning to sprout but it looks as though around half ( 3) have been killed by the early and harsh winter. I will have to wait a month or so more to be sure.

The Medlar and Quince trees, planted in big buried pots are sprouting as are my red and white currents and gooseberries. The vines are still asleep.

The only crop apart from purple spouting and Calvo Nero from last year is rhubarb, my forcer has enabled a couple of crumbles worth. Very tasty. I am going to use the last bits as a sharp sauce for slow roast pork belly.

Having done a brief Twitter survey on seed potato planting, I have decided to wait  a couple more weeks, the nights are still cold and I guess we will have some heavy frosts in April.  I am warming up the soil under black plastic sheets which look horrid but should do the job.

At home the window sill and polytunnel are  full of tomato  and chilli seedlings. Also courgettes, aubergines and climbing  beans of various types in root trainers. I am hoping to plant runners and french beans across the full width of the allotments with an archway over the path.  Around the arch I want to try cucumbers and small squash.

I am very keen to get on with everything but feel the weather still has a few tricks to play before we can really get going.

More from the allotment

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I have been very quiet over the last few months as it seems to have been one long harvest, runner beans by the sack load, courgettes by the tonne, so much salad, potatoes and onions that I now have two onion bags and four sacks of potatoes in the garage. I managed four aubergines, two large and one small butternut squash. A pumpkin, borlotti beans, cabbages, kale and purple sprouting have all done well.

The carrots were small but tasty especially when roasted in rape seed oil. The red chard has gown by the bucket load.
The artichokes have started to produce small buds which are delicious boiled for5 minutes, trimmed cut in half and covered in melted butter
The tomatoes have not really ripened but surprisingly seem to be turning red in the kitchen nearly two months after picking.

Still to come leeks, black kale and calebrese all doing well and I hope will overwinter
As an experiment I have planted out red and white onions and garlic- all went in at the end of September. In October I have under cover some winter lettuce, broad beans, beetroot and potatoes (to see if we can get any for Christmas.
Weeding has started in a flurry before the ground gets too hard or wet or both. I am leaving the runner beans up, there are still new beans forming, I hope the older ones have beans in the pods and I will be able to harvest these for the winter.
My herbs are flourishing, the Thyme below is flowering well as is the marjoram. Others need some cutting back.