If you followed this blog for what I had to say about my allotment then I’m afraid you’ve had thin pickings this year, this being only my second post about it. It seems to have been a year where everything has been done in a very fragmented way so there never seems to have been much to write about.
Today I popped up to the plot to plant some carrots. I say plant because I have taken to germinating carrots in pots then planting out the whole pot as soon as there is enough root to hold the compost together. I do this because if I sow direct the seedlings emerge and last about a day before the slugs have them. Planting them when the tops are two or three centimetres high seems to make a crucial difference and I am getting good results.
I use 1 litre deep pots for sowing, sow between 16 and 20 seeds per pot. When roots are showing out of the bottom and the tops as big as shown, I plant them out. When I harvest them, I dig the whole clump. I put mesh over them to keep out carrot fly. They get watered in with liquid feed.
Running through some of my other growing crops, Runner beans want more warmth, they’re growing, but slowly, and constant slug nibbling has nobbled a few pretty badly. Beetroot is looking good, I’m growing Chioggia and Egyptian Flat for the first time, as well as Boltardy. I have a double row of Hurst Greenshaft peas which are OK, having suffered a bit of pigeon grazing early on. I had excellent results with seed raised Onion Armstrong last year and they kept much better than Rumba from sets. So this year I dropped the sets and grew more seeds and they are struggling somewhat. They will soon switch from growing mode to bulbing mode and they are really still quite small, so I’m not expecting the size of onions I got last year.
I grew two lots of Broad beans this year then mixed them up and planted them all as a block. I really should have given them more space; I don’t think I’m going to get a good crop. Lettuce, both the red Oakleaf Navarra and Salad bowl, have again been excellent. I’m always surprised that they seem less prone to slug damage than various other things I grow. Sweet Corn is like Runner beans, it’s slow because it wants more warmth.
Brassicas are enjoying mixed fortunes. I will be cropping Cabbage Delight Ball very soon. Kalibos, a red summer cabbage which was superb last year, has this year been infested with aphids, though I see that they are being parasitized, so hopefully will soon be gone. Cabbage Red Drumhead is looking good but it’s early days. My row of Curly Kale Redbor is looking good. The second planting of Delight Ball was mauled by pigeons before I got mesh over it, but should recover. I’ve lost only a couple of plants to rootfly this year, much better than last.
Another crop that has been plagued by pests is Sorrel, a perennial veg which most of the time is inedible or at best unappetising because of being full of holes. Today I thought I’d found the culprit when I spotted a pretty moth, but it turns out that the moth is not the parent of the small black grubs munching under the leaves. It’s a small Magpie moth and it came to no harm from me. The grubs are the larvae of Dock beetle. I shall be getting rid of the sorrel, for the amount we have used it is not worth the space.
I only bothered with early spuds this year and not many of them. I grew Charlotte, just 10 plants from bought seed, then relented and planted 10 more from last year’s leftovers. We’ve had a couple of meals from them and they are delicious. This years Perpetual spinach yielded a picking today, with a few leaves from last year’s which I cut down in the hope of getting something useful from it. All it wants to do is flower, it’s down for removal. Another plotholder started late last summer and managed to squeeze in a crop of a purple mange tout pea. Having worked out it was Shirazz, I bought some and sowed them a couple of weeks ago. They’re up.
Leeks are another crop I start in pots and this year I think I got it right. I sowed them mid March, then pricked them off an inch apart in three litre pots in good compost with added controlled release fertilizer. When I planted them earlier this month they were very good sturdy plants. Borlotti beans are a thing I thought only came as a climber but I found some bush ones and had to give them a try. I want them to produce dry beans for winter use. They look OK but I think need higher temperatures to get moving a bit.
And all that remains is Dahlias. I think I’ll save them for another day. Seed sown on 10th
and 17th March this year. They’re almost in flower.