At this time of year, I often wish I kept better records of what is happening at the allotment. I record what I’ve planted/sowed and what I’ve harvested (but not how much), but I don’t know what the weather was like last year, nor where I planted the vegetables nor which areas I composted.
There’s so much more that could be recorded.
The reason for this moan is that (in my memory) the allotment seems much later this year than previous ones. We’ve started picking strawberries (but how much compared to previous years I don’t know) and we’ve got broadbeans, spinach and the start of the redcurrants. However, the courgettes, french beans, raspberries and other things seem to be struggling in the cold and dry weather.
Looking back at my diary for last year, I see I was picking summer raspberries and peas already. But this year, whilst there look like there’s going to be a good harvest of raspberries, there’s no sign of them ripening yet.
Similarly with the peas. Now there could be two reasons. Firstly I’ve sown a different variety this year (Early Onward instead of Kelvedon Wonder) and I think I sowed them slightly later (but my records don’t tell me) so that would be a valid reason for them being slightly later. I have planted a lot more peas this year than previous years and so its taken me longer to get them all in the ground.
I’ve planted more peas because I decided not to grow onions or leeks this year. For the last few years I’ve suffered with white rot and the last two years, my leeks have had leek moth. So, I decided to give leeks and onions a miss for a couple of years and to water the ground with garlic water to try and get rid of the white rot.
The allotments around me seem to have sprouted swathes of netting (its become available from the sheds at the allotment) as mre people try to protect their various crops from the increasing numbers of bugs and beasts. The small mesh debris netting supposedly will stop carrot fly and leek moth so I suppose I’ll have to give it a go next year.
Despite all that, I’ve had a reasonable harvest of garlic. I planted the cloves slightly earlier this year than in previous years (September) and kept a close eye on the plants for signs of white rot. I had two types (white and purple) and the white were had out this week as the plants started to die back and they look to be excellent cloves. The purple ones are still going and will remain in place probably for another couple of weeks.
The broadbeans are a bit strange. I planted some in October/November to overwinter and they really got hammered by the weather, only 25% of the plants survived, dotted around in various places. So I sowed new ones in March filling up the spaces. The autumn sown ones are now cropping, not vast quantities but a few handfulls every couple of days, but the spring sown ones are showing no signs of flowering yet.
Its at this stage when you realise how lovely broadbeans are. They’re nothing like the tough things that you buy in the supermarket, picked when the beans are the size of peas, they are sweet, flavoursome little gems perfect for salads, or lightly boiled. There’s no way that these are commercially viable but an excellent start to the year.
The same with the strawberries. Something about homegrown strawberries make them taste better. Just a short season of a few weeks but it makes them all the better for it, to be followed swiftly by raspberries, blackberries, gooseberries and black currants all of which we get in abundance.
So, all in all, its not as bad as it seems.
Onwards and Upwards