Malcolm Smith's Allotment
Diagrams Growing Schedule Rotation groups
Since my daily diary petered out in 2010 I am now resuming my note-keeping but in a simplified manner. The prime purpose of my notes is to understand what grows best and under what conditions but, to be honest, the variability of the weather reduce the whole process largely to luck. As noted below, I have contracted into a single allotment and, together with that, I have slightly ammended my rotation sequence taking an article by Alan Titchmarsh in the March 2011 edition of Gardeners World as my guide.
As in 2010, the weather conditions had an effect on the produce again last year. Conditions were good in the early sowing season but then a long dry period ensued. Luckily, the wet returned just in time for the soft fruit which cropped well except for the Loganberries. Germination of Brassicas and Scorzonera was very poor.
Besides problems with the weather, there is also the occasional bout of vandalism to endure. However, worse than that this year has been the theft of produce, so we are going to have to be vigilant in future.
I relinquished my second allotment in September as I found I was not making full use of it. It has now been split in half in order to reduce the waiting list. I will now have to make more efficient use of my remaining allotment.
My mower gave up the ghost this year but I was lucky in getting hold of an almost brand new strimmer on Ebay which will do the job nicely.
The winter tasks of preparation were hampered by cold and wet conditions this month so work fell behind. There were Parsnips, Salsify and Scorzonera to be cropped plus Brussels Sprouts and the very last of the Carrots.
I have been able to get onto the allotment this month to spread and dig in dung to the Brassica and the Potatoe plots. We had the last of the Salsify also the Brussels Sprouts which were particularly good this year. At home we used the very last of our stored Onions but still have a few Shallots left. The Purple Sprouting Broccoli has been in suspended animation but now, at the end of the month, is becoming usable. I put in an initial order for seeds ready for early sowing next month. I am trying Premier Seeds Direct who have been recommended to me as being very modestly priced. As the weather is generally quite mild now, I will risk some early planting in the hope of avoiding blight and bugs in early summer.
Ordered the remainder of the seeds I want then started sowing from the second week of this month. I was taking a punt at there being a mild spring so started early. The month comprised some cold nights with occasional frost, many dull days in the first half then the remainder sunny and very warm but virtually no rainfall all month. The Purple Sprouting Broccoli came on well and greens in the form of Perpetual Spinach and Curly Kale lasted right through. Stocks of last years beans and soft fruit continue to be available from the freezer.
This turned out to be the wettest April on record. Despite that, there was little movement in germination or growing on the allotment.
Back to drought conditions again and not a drop of rain all month. Still virtually no germination of rootcrops and later sowings of brassicas gave poor germination. I resorted to starting some seeds in trays in my coldframe which yielded positive results. The potatoes survived the few frosts mid month thanks to being covered up each night. The Broad Beans were flowering heavily by the end of the month and the Asparagus was cropping, albeit sparsly.
Record rain again but, at last, there was signs of germination although nothing as good as it should have been. Strawberries cropped well from mid-month.
Record rainfall for the third month this year but this time it mostly fell in the first half of the month. The following warm spell encouraged growth in Tomatoes, Courgettes, Squash, Sweetcorn and Brassicas. Potatoes were lost to the blight and slugs cleared the Aubergines and Capsicum. Fruit cropping was generally below expectation with the expectation of the Blueberries.
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