A few days ago I shared chocolate mousse Quinoa style recipe and I told you that I'd been really busy with my allotment. That is an understatement!
To remind you what it was like when I first took it on here are a few photographs.
I was a proud owner of a massive plot which needed a hell of a lot of work, but I didn't let this worry me. Spending time down here is fabulous, and as an added bonus Marco loves it too.
You can shut off from the world and get on with what needs doing. Before you know it you've spent hours down there, and I mean hours :o)
At first I must admit some days I did get a bit disheartened as I'd spend hours with not really much to show for it. But I needn't have worried my hours of work has paid back a plenty.
The first thing I needed to do was to weed the front part of the plot, the weeds were growing faster than I could weed! Thankfully I had a little help from my Mum and sister and it wasn't long before I started planting. Thanks guys! The plot is seriously huge and is in two distinctive parts; the front part which had been cultivated previously and the back part which was a jungle but did 'house' two apple trees, an eater and a cooker.
After digging over half of the front part of the allotment I was ready to plant. The first thing to go in? Two rows of potatoes, Charlotte potatoes to be exact. Boy are they tasty too!
In the front of the above photograph you can see the rhubarb starting to grow, and my chest freezer is full of rhubarb crumbles, 12 to be precise! Plus bags of frozen rhubarb just in case I run out! The rhubarb is coming to an end now but its still growing the odd few tasty stalks for me to pick. I'll post my rhubarb crumble recipe very soon.
Once the potatoes were in it was time to plant two rows of onions and a row of shallots. The onions are doing great and I pulled a few on Saturday to leave out to dry but unfortunately the Great British weather has let me down! It has done nothing but throw it down with rain since! That'll teach me to believe the weather forecast!
|Mum in the trenches!|
The plot had a lot of 'rubbish' on it which we put to good use. The goal post frame and middle post are similar to that of old washing line posts. There are still a couple more to be used on the plot which I'm sure I'll find a use for. Next we tied two canes either side to form an upside down V shape and secured them with twine at the top.
We spaced them out so we could plant a runner bean plant or sow a seed to each post. As it turned out we sowed two seeds per cane or planted two runner bean plants to a cane. It hasn't done the plants any harm. In fact my first harvest from the plants weighed 1 stone in weight!
OK, so potatoes and onions in, runnerbean area prepped and ready to go, what's next? Why its the carrots, spring onions and leeks of course :o)
I was warned that the plot suffered with both carrot root fly and onion fly and that last year a lot of people lost their crops to both pests. Not to be put off I still sowed two rows of carrots, an old English heritage variety which is purple in colour and a second row in a more traditional variety.
Unfortunately the purple variety never germinated but the more traditional variety produced some huge carrots, even if some of them were weird and wonderful shapes. I'm certainly not a grower of beautiful vegetables.
I covered both rows in a fleece to protect from the carrot root fly, but to be honest it didn't last long with the bad weather we had and after a couple of weeks it was full of rips and gaping holes. However I never took it off until the carrots had pushed it to its limits. Boy oh boy when I did I was so disappointed the rows were covered with weed! And the weed was bigger than the carrots. After hours of careful weeding, trying not to disturb the carrots so they release their scent to the carrot root fly the job was done. However if I could smell the carrots then that little pest would be able to!
Back home I was busy sowing seed, broad beans, runner beans, cauliflower, purple sprouting broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, French beans, courgettes and winter squash. After a few weeks the broad beans were ready to be transplanted and I had more than a few! It turned out that the shop had sold me two varieties of broad beans instead of a pack of broad beans and a pack of runner beans! Even when I was sowing the seeds I did think the runner beans looked strange more like a broad bean but I thought the shop knows best and they did say they were a new variety of runner bean they were trying out so I ploughed on.
You can see in the photo above that the potatoes had started to grow, so too had the onions and shallots. Behind them are the fleeced carrots and behind that on the left is the broad bean patch and then the runner bean patch. That's me! Sticking my thumb up ha ha ha. You can see that the back part of the plot is a jungle, it might look very lush and green but don't let your eyes fool you its a mass of brambles, old raspberry plants, red currents and black currents and thickets of stubborn grass! The earth itself is in no way flat either its full of mounds of earth, you have to be careful not to twist your ankle when you walk over it!
Back to the front part of the plot, the part I could manage. The next job was to sow the runner bean seeds as I hadn't got any plants to transplant! Lucky for me the other plot owners are a generous lot and T gave me a few runner bean plants too.
There was a sense of urgency now as time was ticking into the growing season and I had so many things left to do. Let alone dig over the remaining front part of the allotment. I ended up buying some strawberry plants which I planted. I haven't had any strawberries this year but I've pinned down a few runners and hopefully next season I will be blessed with lots of juicy ripe strawberries. I was also given quite a few sweetcorn plants too from another plot holder so they went in behind the runner beans. Next I needed to erect some tunnels which were covered with fine mesh for my brassica plants so they wouldn't be harmed by the white cabbage butterfly and other pest that love to devour a whole row of brassicas. Thanks again to T who showed me how it was done using plastic water hosing and the fine net you can buy in the shop. Two tunnels were made and one 'housed' my purple sprouting broccoli plants and the other a selection of other brassicas including, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and kale.
Once the two tunnels had been erected it was a case of finding a space for all the other plants I had grown from seed, including parsnips and celeriac. The courgettes just slotted in nicely next to one of the mesh tunnels and the parsnips the other side. The celeriac kept my broad beans company and the winter squashes found a home in the middle of the runner bean plants and to the side of the carrots and onions which for some reason I had missed digging over.
Once everything was planted it was a case of nurturing and keeping the weeds down and preparing myself for the harvest. In fact my next door neighbour on the plot had joked and asked if I'd put an advert in the paper to help harvest. I thought she was kidding, but now I know she was quite serious! Once the fruit and veg start producing they continue to produce at some rate! If I don't go down at least twice a week then I end up paying when I do get down there. Some days I can spend three hours just harvesting! Yes you read that right three hours! The work doesn't end there either, I spend at least a day in the kitchen afterwards preparing and storing my harvest. Let the good times roll! This is what its all about! You cannot beat growing and eating your own fruit and vegetables. In fact I'm rather proud of myself! :o)
Just to give you an insight into my harvested produce here is a few photographs to whet your appetite and get you interested in growing your own. Some days I could quite easily open up a shop with the amount I harvest, thankfully I have a large chest freezer now which isn't far off bursting at the seams!
|Courgettes, potatoes, cabbage, rhubarb, runnerbeans, onions, shallots, broadbeans, French beans & kale|
|Potatoes, carrots, raspberries, courgettes, French beans, kale, rhubarb, runner beans|
|Tomatoes, runnerbeans, onions, raspberries, apples, courgettes, mooli, potatoes|