Sunday, 5 May 2013

Magic Times as the Sun Shines

The plot on Saturday
The last couple of days have been the sort that need to be thoroughly enjoyed and then just as thoroughly committed to memory, in order to sustain good humour and perseverance during periods of less favourable climatic patterns. These are the fine and heady times when the sun shines, things grow and the world seems a generous and benevolent host. I've never seen the plots as busy, which is no doubt partly due to the fact that rents were due, but people were definitely making the most of the loveliness.
On Saturday we spent a good bit of time down on the plot and got quite a bit done, while on Sunday we just nipped down to slake our crop-to-be's collective thirst and, excitingly enough, chaperone some friends as they were shown a couple of available empty plots. Having moved down from Edinburgh last year, they're taking the allotment plunge, of which more, no doubt, later.

Nice to see you
But back to us, if you don't mind? I'd been worrying a bit that I might have planted our "Rocket" first earlies out a bit too early, and that they might not therefore sprout. I hung on til the start of April, but the soil was still pretty cold at that point and we had some snow and serious frosts after that. So it was great to see that so many of them had breached terra firma. I set about earthing up these first four rows. All told we've got about 13 3 metre rows of spuds in this year, which I think really will be more than enough for us two.

The leeks that have been in over winter are really starting to kick on now, aided no doubt by both the increase on the temperature dial and the dose of chicken manure pellets they got a few weeks ago. It's great to see things kick in to gear again after having sat dormant for so long.

Talking of which, our patch of sorrel has gone from naught to this in just two weeks which is pretty amazing. It tastes a bit "old", the leaves are noticeably less tender with a slightly less zingy flavour than they were last year. I wonder is that because it's early in the season, or because the plants are coming back for a second year? Any guidance on how to get it to taste as fresh as it did last year would be very appreciated. Same goes for our rainbow chard, which I avoided digging up over winter. It has come back, and looks the part, but doesn't really taste of much. Why might that be?

bean holes
What else, what else; we planted a few rows of broad beans "Bunyards Exhibition" direct into the ground, to compliment the ones we'd previously grown in modules and transplanted (top left of pic above). Broad beans were perhaps our star performer last year, both in terms of the amount of crop we got and the fact that the flavour was revelatory. We also had a bit of a weeding session and enjoyed our first experience of the new water system; there's some serious pressure in the taps now, not like the knackered and pathetic drizzle that used to apologetically issue from them before.

In non-veg news, it's nice to see some daffodils finally make it to flower. These multi-coloured efforts are quite nice. Other things coming along very nicely are our onion sets, blueberry and blackcurrant bushes, raspberry canes, rhubarb and strawberry plants. And just to top it all off, the "fig tree" that we went to some efforts to plant way back in early October last year is showing signs of life. This is quite a result. For the last 7 months it has just sat there, a leafless, lifeless twig poking sadly out the ground. Now there are two, admittedly miniscule, buds on it. The twig has come of age!

The replacement cover for the polytunnel (the first effort blew right off and ripped) has arrived, we're going to have to get that up next weekend, as allotment veteran Jimmy has promised us a dozen tomato plants. Frankly, this is a bit of an honour. His tomato-growing skills are quite something - you should see his greenhouse when it's in full swing - so I don't want to knacker his plants up. Any advice from experience about how to really secure a small Gardman polytunnel would be much welcomed.

The only minor blot over the last couple of days has been the background noise of G-Force induced screams and upbeat chart "music" that has been emanating from the Small Hoppings Fair just over the road from our allotment's entrance. It's a bit odd tending your onions when you can see some horrendous puke-inducing git-shaker occasionally breaching the treeline, but hey, each to their own, right? Anyway, it's only there for a few days.

Who put that there?
Another fine day is in prospect tomorrow. We've got lots of stuff that will be ready to plant out soon and we might sow a bunch of seeds directly at the plot. Or we might just take a flask of tea, some good-quality reading material and make the most of what, when the weather's like this, is a fantastic place to be. Hope it's good for you too.


  1. Our site has been fairly quiet. It's rare these days that many people are there when we are - maybe they go on an evening.

    I haven't come across late planting leeks to harvest now before. We have been harvesting. ours over winter and still have a few to use. When did you plant yours?

    1. Hi Sue, we planted them out around August, they got established then just sat through the winter. Some are just about harvestable now but we'll let them get bigger. We just tried it as an experiment to have year-round leeks (we'll plant some out shortly for Autumn/winter) and it seems to have worked ok!

  2. Those leeks look great. I'm growing them for the first time this year, from seed. Any top tips on when to start trimming them? I've heard that's the way forward, but I'm not really sure when to start.

    And I've got a couple of Bunyard's Exhibition in the ground myself, along with a few De Monica. Looking forward to a few fresh beans in due course.

    1. Hi Darren, apart from removing dead or yellowing leaves and removing seed heads the minute they threaten to form, we don't trim our leeks at all. Maybe we should!


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