Well, I went down to the allotment. It wasn’t as bad as I had feared. The wind and snow had damaged my netting over the brassicas, but at least it hadn’t blown away (which would have been annoying and expensive). Anyway, I took down the frame (and brought it home to give me a chance to straighten up the poles) and re-covered the brassicas with lighter-weight netting (just to keep the pigeons away) and moved a few wheelbarrows of compost onto the beds (to keep my hand in and make me feel more productive).
The garlic are looking OK (they don’t seem to have been too beaten up by the wind and weather) but I don’t think the broadbeans are going to be up to much, they seem to have been whipped all over the shop even with the supports I put around them. Anyway, they’ll create some green manure and I’ll have to sow some more when the weather begins to improve.
I always sow broadbeans over the winter on the off-chance that the weather will be kind enough to let them survive and give us an early crop. It seems to work about one year in three and that’s the year when we get a glut of broadbeans and wonder what to do with them. I’ve always found that broadbeans are much best eaten when they are really small, there’s no point in letting them get big in the pods, if the junction between the bean and the pod has gone black, the result is a mealy, coarse, inedible mush. However, if you pick them small, they’re early sweet and a real spring vegetable. They’re really at their best if you can eat the pod whole!
My chilli peppers (which I sowed about 2 weeks ago) are beginning to pop their heads above the compost. I’ve sown 15 different varieties and I’m going to try growing some at the allotment for a change (assuming I can find suitable space). However, for the next few weeks, I’ll be taking them in and out of the greenhouse. The daytime temperatures are up into the low 20C (which is plenty warm enough to encourage the plants) but overnight it drops to about freezing. However, the plants need the sun, so keeping them on the windowsill, even with reflecting tin foil to increase the sunlight, isn’t as good as taking them outside.
I haven’t bought any potatoes yet, I’m struggling with whether I want to bother growing any potatoes at all this year. I’ve certainly decided that onions and leeks are not worth it, white rot and leek moth have seen to that. My plan this year is to dedicate at least one bed to peas and another to sweetcorn. We’ve found that sweetcorn can be kept in the freezer through the whole winter (we’re just eating the last) and are really good. So I assume that If I were to grow enough peas, I should have a similar crop.
However, maincrop potatoes are a definite no-no. Blight hits the allotment before they can do well and, despite all my best hopes, I struggle to be pleased with Sarpo potatoes. So, if I’m going to grow any potatoes, it will only be earlies (and the soil is too heavy for them really).
Also, family commitments in July and August are going to take us away just at the time when we would normally be working hardest. So it seems to me that this year I have to plan for a “look after itself” allotment for 2015.