Allotment Adventures: Planning for next season

We are now in our third lockdown in the UK, with the way the infection rates are climbing Mum and I have decided that it was better that she didn’t come over on the bus to see me or work on the allotment. Which means that I’m solo on the plot and missing the weeding help.

This weekend, I visited the plot to fill up the birdfeeders and paint the shed.

Painted shed

It will need another couple of coats, but at least it’s a start.

The week before last we split the rhubarb and moved the gooseberry bushes and Ma did amazing work on the weeding the front of the plot. So work was done and next weekend, I’ll be weeding, I’m not as thorough as Ma – well that’s what she tells me but needs must…

So as it’s January, I thought that I’d talk about what we are going to grow this year! When Boris Johnson announced the second lockdown back in November, Ma and I panic bought seeds.

Over the last year, with Brexit looming, I took a look at the food I eat and buy. I’ve talked about this a bit, I’ve talked about changing how and where I buy meat, I’ve talked about cooking more vegetarian food, I’ve talked about buying more UK produced food. and so with this in mind, we made a decision to try and use UK produced seeds. I’m not ever going to get it 100% right, we live in a global world but I think it’s important to try as much as you are able given your circumstances. So we most the majority of our seeds from Real Seeds but we are also going to fill in with the seeds we already have and that we get from magazines.

So what are we going to grow next season?

Garlic, onions and shallots are already in the ground. We also have cabbages, kale and chard that will take us through to Feb/Mar and lettuces that may or may not last the winter.

Kale

In February we’ll sow the broadbeans (Aquadulce Longpod), peas and carrots, I bought some of the tri coloured ones carrots we had last year from Wilko and we have loads of free carrot seeds to use up. I’m going to do spring sowing and a later June/July sowing to see if we can eek out the carrot season a bit more this year.

We’ve already ordered seed and sweet potatoes this year from DT Brown, the potatoes are Nicola, International Kidney and Acoustic (these are a replacement for the Lady Christl that we ordered) and we’ll grow them in tubs as usual. The sweet potato slips are also from DT Brown, the sweet potato collection, it’s 15 slips and we have purple ones too. I probably won’t plant all 15 slips, but Laura and Dionne will have some and someone else on the allotment site couldn’t get purple ones, so I’ll find homes for them. My lesson from last year is to leave them until well into October, so we’ll see how we go.

Last year wasn’t a great year for summer squash, this year we’re going to grow our usual Summer Crookneck, but also the Early Prolific Straightneck, Benning’s Green Tint Patty Pan and Tondo di Piacenza Round Courgette. All of those seeds can be found here

Patty Pan

For winter squash, we already have some ‘Jack be little’ seeds and to that we’re adding Waltham Butternut Squash, Hokkaido, Galeuse d’Eysines, Anna Swartz Hubbard, Sibley Storage Squash, I will harvest some seeds from my candy roaster and crown prince and see if we can get a squash from them but only one from each. We are changing the beds, this year, so probably won’t be growing as many as we did last year. Although having said we had too many this year, Ma and I are watching them go down and wondering if we’ll get through the winter!

We’re going to grow three cucumbers types, two are new to us, Tamra Slicing and Early Fortune and the usual Boothby’s Blonde.

I love growing tomatoes and bizarrely for someone who didn’t eat raw tomatoes until I grew them, I love the big tomatoes and they are the ones I want to grow. Last year we grew tomatoes that we’ve grown before and of those we’ll repeat three, Orange Banana, Amish Paste, Cour di Bue and I may sneak in some Marmande. For new tomatoes we’re going to grow Ethel Watkins Best, Feo de Rio Gordo and Peche Vilmorin Andrieux, this is pink, fuzzy tomato that’s good for stuffing, so that will be fun to try! Ma loves cherry tomatoes, and she eats the majority of the cherries that we grow, this season we’re going to try Gardener’s Sweetheart and Millefleur Yellow Vine, this is a centiflor type and I’m hoping that it’ll prevent the wicked splitting issues we had with the yellow cherries last year.

I do some preserving with the tomatoes I grow, this year all the salsa came from my tomatoes but for canning, I mostly bought tomatoes from the Isle of Wight because of the quantity I needed them in, I did my canning in two section, one of 18kg of tomatoes and another of 9kg. I don’t have the space to grow enough to can with, I’d need another plot and that is not happening especially given how many people we have on the waiting list at the moment. I waited about 18 months for my first half and I think I just got in at a good time, because the grew quadrupled last year!

Tomatoes for salsa

Finally, beans. We have purple and green french beans saved so we’llprobably use them again. We’re also going to grow Aida Gold Dwarf Beans, they are yellow so we’re growing the spectrum. We’re also going to grow Gigantes Soup Runner Beans, runner beans grown them for the beans not the pods and I thought it would be fun to experiment with beans for drying. We also have some borlotti bean seeds floating about so if I have room, I’ll try and squeeze them in! Although this year I really need to work on bean frames that don’t collapse under the weight of the plants. I was thinking about these, anyone used them before?

The things that we usually grow, kale, chard, leeks, cabbages and cauliflower we have loads of seeds for and we’ll not sure if we’re going to grow from seed or cheat like we did last year and buy plugs, to be honest it’s going to depend on the length of lockdown and how much I get done in the next couple of weeks! Things I hope to grow this year, we’ll have parnips and salsify, sweetcorn, spinach, salad, fennel (third time lucky), pak choi and turnips and swedes, Ma also really wants to grow celeriac and if I can find or build, a spare bed, we will.

We’ll have fruit, as usual, I split the rhubarb and moved the gooseberries so I’m not expecting loads of that, but we should have a good-ish crop of blueberries (one of my spring projects is to get some of the plants into bigger pots) and raspberries. I’m not expecting many blackcurrants but a handful would be nice and hopefully, the plum tree is ready for a really good year, despite the haircut it’s going to get in June!

For soft herbs, we’ll grow parsley, basil and dill and I want to get some more thyme plants because I really like it. I’m expecting that the verbena, borage, rocket, marigolds, aramanth and mallow will just do what they do and grow. But I am going to try and grow a row of orache from the seeds I collected last year.

About nicdempsey

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2 Responses to Allotment Adventures: Planning for next season

  1. I grew celeriac for the first time last year after failing years before to get the seed to germinate, I still have a few in the ground to use up, they’re delicious roasted. Like you I’ve done a bit of seed panic buying, last year was so hard to get anything. I also use Real Seeds, they’re having to limit the opening times of the shop due to a large volume of orders. I do like the shed colour 🙂

  2. Tabula Rasa says:

    I found a very good meat company called Jurassic farm shop which is only Dorset meat. There is also a good cheese shop called Stanford cheese where you can just by good British cheese but they also have others. Chococo chocolates in swanage is all made in the UK but cocoa obviously not.

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