Allotment Adventures: Planning for the spring

I haven’t been to the allotment yet this year! Every weekend we make plans to go, it pours down with rain and that stops play. Last time I was there it looked pretty bleak. The raspberries have all died back, you can see where I plan to put the shed behind them and I didn’t cover some of the beds which I’m kicking myself about right now.img_5597Last year, I got the plot in May and basically just made it up as I went along. I got herbs and my gifted courgette plants in and then just created space and bunged stuff in the ground as I went along. I was lucky because it mostly went well and there wasn’t too much clearing to do.img_4346This year is more of a challenge for me because I’m trying to plan but I still I have no idea what I’m doing, reading is all very well but I learnt more from doing last year, I’ve drafted and redrafted a plan, mostly I want to grow all the things and that’s a recipe for too many plants and trying to use up 36 courgettes in a week! But Ma and I went to Wilko and made a start (and some impulse buys!).img_5797There are more seeds to buy that I can’t get at Wilko but it’s a brilliant place to start.

Planning for the allotment seems to be falling into two parts, longer term, more permanent planting and building. For me that’s stuff like sorting out a shed, more raised beds, compost heaps and what to do with rubbish now we can’t have bonfires. It’s also the longer term planting like rhubarb, aparagus and a strawberry bed and what to do with more problematic areas of the plot ie whether I’m going to pull up the raspberries, what I’m going to do about the blackcurrant and gooseberry bush at the bottom of the plot (they didn’t produce last year and are weed infested and it might be a better idea to dig them up and put another raised bed in). However, Wilko did give me an idea about my rhubarb issue. Ma and I both love rhubarb and there’s no such thing as too much. We currently have two plants (one moved so we can’t pick from that this year) and I had a plan to buy some crowns next year so form a row at the top of the allotment but Wilko are selling them for £2 so I’ll buy a couple and put them in. If they grow that’s great and it only cost £4, and I’ll get more rhubarb earlier, if not then it’s not a massive outlay and I’m still on track. I will need to do a lot more weeding of this though!img_5461

Wilko also sell asparagus crowns and I’m wondering if I can find some room for a small bed!

The second part of planning is annual plants, what food and flowers I want to grow this year. Assuming nothing terrible happens, we’ll have some rhubarb, plums, raspberries and gooseberries but the annual list is a long one….

the things that we liked last year and want more of are:

salad leaves – we really enjoyed salad last year and the more the better for this year, so I’ve bought mixed red and green salad bowl and a packet of mixed leaved (lollo rossa, lollo bionda, grand rapids and corarde). We’ll also grow spinach (lazio f1, perpetual), wild rocket and lambs lettuce (valentin) for salad and maybe watercress and land cress.img_4631

radish (french breakfast 3, sparkler) because I like them and I didn’t get enough last year!

french beans (ferrari) – we really loved the french beans last year and we’ll probably grow more than one type but this is what we have at the moment

runner beans (scarlet emperor) the runner beans were my thing and they got destroyed by black fly but they were really good while we had them!

herbs (coriander, dill) – I let the coriander and dill go to seed which I’m hoping will come up again, if they don’t I’ll just resow in the same little beds.img_5342tomatoes (Orange banana and Amish paste and some cherry tomatoes as yet undecided). What we got from the tomatoes, we loved, but I have learned from last year, I’m only going to grow cordon varieties for blight prevention!img_4826

cucumber (wautoma, boothby’s blond, minature white) I was given a cucumber plant last year and it grew three cucumbers before it died! but they were really tasty cucumbers! This year we (ok I) want to grow a couple of types because they were amazing and I want to curry favour with Oli, who is a big fan of cucumbers!

courgette (black beauty) – I will confess that 6 courgette plants was too many but we do like courgettes, so I’m going to grow 2 plants this year and give any other plants away!img_4590

carrots – orange (nantes 5) and purple (dragon purple) carrots because I am a child!

sweet peas – last year I bought a set of sweet pea plants from the discount table in homebase, they were amazing. So we’ll have a couple of pyramids of them at the top of the allotment.img_4621peas (hurst green shaft, oregon sugar pod, early onwards) – I want to grow a lot more peas this year and do some sucessional planting too

flowers (nasturtiums, marigolds, california poppy, afgan poppy) we grew all of these last year, the nasturtiums and marigolds as companion plants and the poppies were just there. I saved seeds from the afgans and we’ve had to move the californian poppies so we’ll sow them all again.img_4340

New things that we haven’t grown before:

herbs (borage, parsley, chives, basil) I have some space next to the permanent herbs (rosemary, oregano, sage and thyme) where I’m going to make little beds much like the dill and corriander ones) I’ll also grow some to companion plant with the vegetables.img_5044sweetcorn (incredible f1) – I wasn’t going to grow sweetcorn but got carried away and bought the seeds, maybe I’ll find the space for some three sisters planting!

leeks (lyon prizetaker, blue de solaise winter) I love leeks and would also like to have things to harvest in the winter. So leeks…

cavolo nero – I don’t think I have the patience to grow cabbages but loads of people at the allotments grow it and say it’s easy to grow. So we’ll see!

chard – we planted this a bit late last year so it’s not really grown much, I’ll plant a bit earlier this year!img_4969pak choi – this was a fail last year, now I know to net it to stop the pigeons eating it, I’ll try again

summer squash (summer crookneck, patty pan) some variation from courgettes and good to eat.

winter squash – (butternut – butterfly f1, baby blue hubbard, boston squash)

beetroot – we sowed late last season and they are sitting on the allotment not doing much but Ma loves beetroot so we going for a three, two red (moulin rouge, detroit 2) and a golden (golden touchstone)

potatoes – I really wasn’t going to grow them but there was a variety called ‘Nicola’ so we’re going to grow 5 seed potatoes. Enough for novelty but I’m not going into massive potato consumption because there isn’t enough room on the plot. We may have to grow these in a bucket!

flowers – I would like at some point to have a cutting garden, but I don’t currently have the capacity for planning it. But we bought some dutch irises, my grandma was called Iris because they were flowering in her father’s garden when she was born in May. Seeing as the gardening gene must have come from Grandad Bright, I feel that irises are a must! We also have some wild flower seed to sow and some cosmos (sensation mixed).img_5417

We already have garlic, onions and broad beans planted before Christmas. So all I need to do is buy the rest of the seed, start it off, find room for it, stop it from dying, keep the allotment weed free and buy and build a shed and do all the other stuff. Easy….

About nicdempsey

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