It has at least been mainly dry this week and my feelings of guilt at having spent most of December indoors finally got the better of me. I have been excusing my lack of engagement on my allotment on the grounds of it being too wet but this week I have dug out and spread all my accumulated compost and started to consider the coming season.
I moved my tunnel up there in the middle of October, so a bit late to have sown anything that would germinate and overwinter. I’d sown some lettuce and had small plants in pots; some of them are now planted, the remainder potted on. Yesterday I sowed a few more, they’re in the house to germinate. I also sowed a couple of pots of carrots; they need some heat to germinate at reasonable speed, so are in the propagator but will then get grown on in the glasshouse and planted in the tunnel. It’s not something I’ve done before, I may do repeat sowings at intervals, see what seems to work best. Also on the seed front, some of the small order I got from Plant World have now been sown and put outside in a tray with plastic lid. They’re the ones that need a bit of cold treatment.
In the garden, apart from a minimal amount of tidying, I have done nothing and there is very little happening. There are bulbs starting to come up here and there, a couple of Camellias flowering, Hellebores starting but not out yet; all the usual. I think I’ll do my six entirely from my allotment.
Lettuce ‘All Year Round’. Sown 3/10/2020 in cells, then potted into 9cm pots. I planted out 9 into the ground in my tunnel on 27th December. They have since had a few frosts which they’ve survived and are so far untouched by slugs, mice or voles. I figured if they survived the first week I could breathe more easily. The seed packet gives a sowing range of February to August and a harvest interval of 10-12 weeks from sowing. I’m well outside the sowing date range and after 14 weeks they’re a good way off being usable. I sowed some more yesterday. I sowed a short row of Radish alongside the lettuce in the tunnel, to see what happens.
Two & three.
One of my Rhubarb varieties is already growing away. Bought unnamed, it might be Victoria. A couple of leaves are frost singed but mainly it’s OK. It’s the earliest, most prolific and least tasty of the four I have.
Just above it is a weed patch on which I have spread a couple of bags of shredded stuff that normally I’d have composted. The compost has all been spread, the remaining rotten pallets put aside. I will go a year with no compost heap, just shred and spread, see how it works out. All was explained in a mid week blog.
I was accused of heresy, to which I plead guilty and which puts me in good company, historically speaking.
Chard. I have grown Chard a couple of times and it hasn’t done very well. This plant may be self sown, except I’m not sure where the seed would have come from. Suffice it to say I don’t think I planted it but it has done very well and yielded a few small portions for the kitchen. Unfortunately it’s all alone and one plant isn’t really enough. I thought I’d leave it to go to seed but it may need another plant for pollination.
Purple sprouting broccoli. ‘Rudolph’ is the variety, according to Kings, an extra early variety. They really should check their online blurb about it, in the description it says spears from late January; in the more details section under “maturity” they say late February to April and in the Sow/Plant/Harvest box they have September to February for the harvest period. I have instructions to grow more, I may get another variety though.
I am very fond of blackcurrants and have a number of bushes of three varieties. In 2020 they were not great, having had two years where they’d not made a lot of new growth, mainly for lack of water. Strips of Mypex between the rows are good for keeping the weeds down but if gardening on a slope, the rows need to run across the slope or most of the rain that lands on the mypex will run the length of it and not get to the plants. In 2020 I carried a lot of cans of water and kept the bushes watered, which meant I had a decent amount of new growth. I was able to prune out lots of older wood and I’m hopeful of a good crop this year.
There’s something very satisfying about growing your own food, not least that it can be very challenging, with pests and diseases much more of a problem than they are in the ornamental garden. Since one of the things that motivates me is to eat food of the best possible quality, I don’t want to contaminate it with chemical pesticides though I don’t describe myself as an organic gardener. I just want to keep it as simple and as natural as possible. It sometimes seems like I’m living in a world of people who think they need to spend hundreds of pounds on tanalised timber to build raised beds which they will cover with plastic mesh so they can grow half a dozen “organic” carrots.
On the whole, gardeners are a sensible lot, and the SoS lot will be telling tales of hunkering down through this cold weather while some of their plants put on a show of defiance. I’ve had a quick look at the Prop’s post, heading back there dreckly.