Sunday, 11 June 2017

Managing fine without us

It can come as a bit of a surprise, sometimes, to find out that life goes on without you. Since the arrival of our daughter a couple of months back, the allotment has basically been sacked off; after getting home from work I'm far keener to see Zosia than I am to look at vegetables. I had assumed that the place would be hoaching with weeds and those crops we had planted would be bearing the scars of their neglect. A couple of brief recent visits showed neither of these assumptions to in fact be the case.

(Front to back) Garlic, onions and broad beans
I think we've been helped by the weather. Prior to some recent precipitation, it has been remarkably dry. This seems to have kept a lot of weeds particularly weedy. While the thistles, nettles and docks had all put on plenty of foliage growth, their roots hadn't developed much and were easily pulled up from the dry top-layer of soil. Hence what looked like being a cumbersome tidy up job ended up being very satisfying, like pulling off a massive weedy scab just as it's ripe and ready. I had the whole plot de-weeded in not much more than a couple of hours.

The things that we actually want to grow, on the other hand, have all done pretty well without us. The majority of it got established before it got really dry, which I'm sure will have helped, as will have the plentiful sunshine. If we'd been going to the plot I'd probably have been watering everything like crazy. The fact that it's done ok regardless shows that, other than when it's really needed like when things are newly planted, perhaps watering is more about making you feel like you're helping than the fact that you actually are. I remember Raymod Blanc's gardener saying in an article once that watering is a waste of time, and that refraining from doing so encourages plants to put down sturdier roots. There might be something in that.

Anyway, let's have a quick shifty round the plot as it was today, and see what we've got going on.

Broad beans have done great. They're aquadulce claudia, planted last Autumn and overwintered before kicking on in the Spring. The plants are super-healthy, showing no sign of blackfly or the brown spotting that the foliage can often fall foul of, yet.

I picked the first crop of them. It felt a bit odd doing so, as these were sown and grown when life was very different, and time was rather more plentiful. Harvesting them felt like reaping the rewards of work done during a different life altogether. We'll be eating them in this one though; tonight to be more specific, a fine treat.

Boltardy beetroot.
Good old boltardy beetroot are growing nicely in one of the poorer, less manured beds. I like to pull them up somewhere between golf and tennis ball size. Their relative, chard, is also getting on fine.

Chard bright lights
I planted out a couple of rows of a self-blanching variety of celery a couple of weeks back. By all accounts celery is one of the tricksiest things to grow, but these plants have been fine so far.

A bed of nasturtiums have self seeded, again. These things really do just grow like stink, no wonder chef's like them so much. We'll need to make a point of eating some this year, after never really getting round to it last time out. Their flowers make salads look super pretty.

In fruitland, it looks like being a bumper crop of gooseberries which suits me fine as I love their fragrant sharpness. There's a decent amount of blackcurrants about to ripen on our two bushes too. As ever, the trick with these is to get them just before the local bird population does. I liberated a couple of raspberry canes from thickets of weeds. Pickings of these will be meagre, although nonetheless appreciated. Our plum tree has produced some fruit but I don't think any will get to ripen. The tree has taken a hammering at the nefarious hands of a horde of greenfly. We'll need to get in quick next year and give it a good spray of something when this happens.

I trundled home, happy that the plot is still there and that, while we haven't got the time to spend on it that we once did - I don't know when Kasia, much less Zosia are going to make it up there - things are still growing. It's nice to be needed, but also sometimes to find out that you're not.


  1. Your plot has obviously taken pity on your lack of time.

  2. My first visit to your story for a while, congratulations on the birth of your daughter, lovely!


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