Allotment update – 12/8/2019

I haven’t had much to say about my veg growing this year and I have to admit that the weedy appearance of the plot suggests my enthusiasm for it has faltered a little. I don’t think it has by much but I have probably not done as well this year as last, mainly because I have not been so conscientious with watering.

Some notes then on a few things of note.
I grew the red overwintering onion ‘Electric’ this year. It was a failure, almost every one flowered. I left them there, they’re quite ornamental and the bees are enjoying them. I will collect some seed and sow it mid August, see if I can grow them from seed. Might keep a bit of seed back to sow in the spring as well. I have low expectations of it.

Another new thing for me this year was Chicory Raddichio Pallo Rosso. I saw it at Rosemoor last year and thought it looked great. Mine looks great, it’s one of the best looking crops I’ve ever grown. Too bad it’s inedible. Why would anyone want to eat the stuff, it’s disgusting, bitter like you wouldn’t believe. Even the slugs won’t touch it. I shall regard it as green manure.
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Not as bad, but still something of a disappointment was the mangetout pea ‘Shirazz’. One of the other plotholders had grown it last year and I thought it looked good. Mine look good, the flowers are pretty, the purple pods are attractive and very prolific but I can’t in all honesty say that its eating quality is up to much. It’s all right but it gets very stringy as soon as the peas start to swell and isn’t sweet like a sugar snap pea. I shan’t grow it again.
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My normal peas, Hurst Greenshaft, cropped well enough. I did a couple of pickings and have had a trickle of pods every few days for a few weeks since. They go raw into salads and the pea plants may be putting a little nitrogen into the soil. I’ll pull them up and compost them eventually but I’ve nothing to go in their place so they can stay where they are for now.

The runner beans took a bit of a hammering in the wind over the last few days. I sowed my own saved seed of Firestorm and a short podded bean another allotmenteer had given me. Some of the seed looked hybrid and that has shown in the varying length of beans and mixed flower colours. They’ve flowered extraordinarily well but have not set a bumper crop of beans, still more than we’re eating and I don’t find they freeze well, even if we had room in the freezer. I shall buy seed for next year.
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In front of the beans are my onions, variety Armstrong, from seed. These keep exceptionally well last year, far better than my set raised Rumba, so I grew them again and didn’t grow Rumba. They really didn’t grow very strongly until after midsummer and are still very green and lush, not looking anywhere ripe. The RHS are against folding the tops down so I’ve not done so, yet. They’re looking pretty good otherwise. I’ve a small batch of Red Brunswick too, looking rather similar.
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I tried two new beetroot varieties this year, Chioggia and Egyptian Flat. Back to regular varieties next year I’m afraid. Underwhelmed we woz. Both beetroot and chard suffered badly from running to seed prematurely.

Growing carrots has become a bit of a saga but a lot of bloggers seem not to succeed at all with them so it seems that the trouble I go to is worth it as I’ve had good crops of almost completely root fly free carrots. I reckon the difference in taste between shop grown and own grown carrots is greater than for any other vegetable. Plus they are one of the most pesticide intensive crops commercially and mine are wholly pesticide free. I sow them, very thinly, in 1 litre deep pots and plant the whole pot full when they’re a couple of inches high, the root mass just holding together. They’re then kept under Enviromesh until harvested by pulling up a whole clump.
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Another first time crop was Calabrese. Dead easy but I just sowed the one batch and they all came ready at exactly the same time so most went to flower. You are after all, harvesting the flower head just days before the buds open, so you have no leeway. I will grow it again but sow successionally.
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I can never quite get over how easy lettuce is to grow, it always seems like it would be targeted by my all too abundant and voracious slugs and wiped out, but it’s actually no trouble at all. Very pretty too, so I pricked off two cell trays of Oakleaf Navarra a few weeks back, one for the allotment and one for the garden. The allotment plants are fine and are growing away well. They will provide me with lettuce well into the autumn. The plants in the garden lasted little more than 24 hours. In 48 hours there was no sign they’d ever been there.
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The other plot, I have two, has been partly sublet, so I now only have a little over half of it. The ever bearing strawberry Albion is shaping up very well indeed, though the wasps are a bit too keen for my liking. They just keep on coming though, and they’re huge. I got them from Parkers in the spring and they weren’t great, I didn’t expect much in the first year. Next year I am going to try some in pots in my tunnel.
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And then there’s the dahlias. Looking pretty darned good considering the battering they’ve had from the wind, across that field is south west, they get hammered.
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9 thoughts on “Allotment update – 12/8/2019

  1. You tantalizingly show two types of lettuce but only name one! I love lettuce and managed a few in my small patch this year…growing so well that when I picked and washed one, there was half to share with neighbours.

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  2. Is Calabrese supposed to be cut while still in tight bud like cauliflower and broccoli, or does it get to elongate a bit just before blooming? Are those blooming only because they could not be harvested fast enough?

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