I can’t really remember what has been happening at the allotment over the past couple of months; it has been dry, it has been wet and things have grown. I have sown the winter cabbages and kale ready for planting out when the summer plants are finished and harvested potatoes, onions (my first!) courgettes and some beans, but am disappointed with how these have done, especially the runner beans which have behaved like dwarf beans. These were a new variety which when I went back to check that they weren’t in fact dwarf they have been delisted.
Over the summer holidays I’ve had an extra pair of hands in the form of a local girl who needs some time away from her family, it’s been good having a time during the week that is set aside for the allotment whatever else is happening or how tired I am from work and the weather always seems good for us. We have weeded, sown seeds, made new beds including starting off a mushroom bed and looked at things lots.
There seem to be lots of wasps eating the potato plants. When I first saw them I thought maybe there was a nest in the tyres that I’m growing them in but I haven’t come across one and they seem to move around from plant to plant and when I have watched them they are eating the plants from the tip of the end leaves and back. I’ve never seem or heard of anything like it before but I’m not too worried as they don’t seem to be doing too much damage and soon all the potatoes will be eaten any way. There are frogs living in amongst the tyres, and very welcome they are too.
The no dig beds that I have been using seem to be working very well, and have resulted in my ‘pride and joy’ of the whole plots – my Boston squashes. These are meant to make “a decent sized hubbard (but not too huge)” not so mine, which are massive already and still growing whist somehow managing to set more fruit which get to a ‘decent size’ within a week or two. I think my family are getting feed-up of me talking about them, and I now only get a tired “yes Poppy” when I ask if they have seem how big they are getting. But they are getting BIG.
I have also managed to eat my first Mimi potatoes, which is about time really given that they are a) an early and b) I have grown them two years running now. We had them in a salad and they were nice, Rhys described them as “sweet and smooth” but I’m not sure that they are worth the effort or space.
The purple sprouting is also doing well and has started to ‘head-up’. There hasn’t really been that many Cabbage Whites around this year, and although the plants have had caterpillar I have been round and picked them off only a few times and, touch wood, this has done the trick. As happened last year the chickens won’t eat them, silly birds.
Last weekend we hired another tipper truck and have done a big clear up of the goat pen. The manure is now sitting on the plot waiting to be spread out on the empty ground waiting to be turned into beds, which isn’t very much now. Hopefully next year I will have the whole of the ground up and running, although this does mean I’ll have nowhere to put manure deliveries, but I don’t think I’ve done that badly with what I’ve got up and running this year.
Over the winter I am planning on growing kale, cabbage, onions and garlic. With any empty beds I shall just cover them with manure again ready for next year. I also need to work out some sort of crop rotation as this year I’ve just stuck things in as the beds became ready and the plants need to go out.
The beds at the moment are looking like this:
Top bed: potatoes in tyres and one squash plant that I put in to fill a gap where some potatoes didn’t appear.
Second bed (working down the first row of beds): a wig-wam of beans, sweetcorn, courgettes, a self-sown tomato plant and some butternut squash, which aren’t doing much
Third bed: Purple sprouting
Fourth bed: Boston squash, sweetcorn, there was also a self-sown potato in this bed which I harvested last week
Fifth bed: Butternut squash and cauliflowers
Sixth (half bed) Strawberries, these I will bring home later in the year so as not to attract wild boar to my plots next year
Seventh bed (bottom bed of second row): beans, and after this weekend cabbage and kale
Eighth bed: A mixture of Brassica including sprouts and caulis, extra plants that didn’t fit in other beds, a small row of leeks and some peas probably for salads