Well its been just over seven months since I got the allotment so I thought I would do a mid year review of how things are going.
There is only half a large bed left to be dug over and have the perennial weeds removed, although I know there are still lots of roots hiding in the soil but at least the plot no longer looks like a ploughed field as it did when I took it on in November last year.
All the beds have residents at the moment. I planted out my leeks today in the last small bed and there are squashes in the bed that isn’t completely dug. They are at one end in the hope that I will clear the soil before the plants overrun it but if they do at least they will cut out the light to the weeds.
The best thing is that we are harvesting: new potatoes, broad beans, mangetout, salad leaves and beetroot which makes all the hard work worthwhile. I try to harvest something every time I go now as it gives you a real boost and motivates you to carry on.
As so many people have said before it is tough to keep going and I know the first year is the hardest. I have felt like giving up quite a few times especially when rabbits chomped their way through my Jerusalem Artichoke plants. Luckily I have found a spray, thanks to a fellow plot holder, which you spray around the perimeter of the plot and it stops the rabbits. It seems to be working and you only need to re-spray when you cut the grass paths. I’m sure it is far from organic but I garden organically and in tune with nature as much as possible but when it comes to rabbits eating my crops well what can I say.
The onions, shallots and garlic are coming on well. I think the garlic may be ready for harvesting but it is difficult to tell as the leaves took a battering when it was really hot in April/May. The site is very exposed and a lot of the young vegetable plants have suffered from wind scorch which is something I will need to think about.
Other lessons learnt already are that I need a more robust framework for the mangetout and next year these will be sown successionally to prolong the harvest. I’m not sure if I’m going to grow as many Broad Beans in the future. My parents like them a lot but I still don’t think we will get through them all. I definitely will not be growing radishes again – I haven’t eaten them since I was a child and I never liked them then and now I remember why!! Definitely want to grow more shallots and possibly more garlic.
I am thinking of having a small raised bed at home for salad leaves as whilst they grow well at the allotment I only get down there every few days and I prefer the salad greens fresh rather than a couple of days old.
Once the mangetout and broad beans are finished I have Carvelo Nero and Purple Sprouting Broccoli coming along, As well as two types of Cabbage waiting to be planted out. I also have courgettes, squashes and hopefully Florence Fennel. Alas the Sweetcorn is not faring well – I suspect it has suffered from wind damage as the leaves look very scorched.
As for soft fruit well I have low expectations this year as I understand that many of the plants need to settle in. We have had a small handful of Strawberries and I suspect we might get the same from the Raspberries and Redcurrents. I want to add a couple of small Apple Trees in the autumn and maybe some more Raspberries or some other form of berry.
I also need to investigate making comfrey or nettle tea as I have both growing in the garden at home and it would be a pity not to use them.
I think the biggest result so far from the plot is that my youngest who isn’t a big potato fan actually said my Rocket potatoes were delicious!
So the allotment’s mid-year review such as my school reports said: working hard but could do better