Picking the Produce

The beginning of June started off very warm with temperatures above normal, but I missed it due to being quite poorly with Covid. Yep, it got me, even though I’ve had a vaccination. And no, I wasn’t sloppy with social distancing etc it got me in my own home, via my son who up until that point hadn’t had a vaccination. Horrid virus. Typically, now that I’m well (and testing negative) to come out and play on the allotment again there’s a noticeable dip in temperature, unsettled weather has returned with some days and evenings feeling quite chilly for the time of year. We’re promised warmer weather soon, I’m just grateful to be outside again, rain or shine.

Although the plot is a bit behind this year ( the same for many other gardeners too) I have begun to harvest some things which is always exciting! Strawberries are very good this year, I suspect the wet weather of May and scorching start to June played a key role. Garlic scapes have been a real treat in stir fries, even though my sense of taste is not what it should be (thanks Covid) I could just about make out some garlicky tones. Not having my sense of smell is probably a good thing after eating this little lot, perhaps not so good for other people though……

Broad bean flowers were amazing this year, but they seemed to take forever to form pods which actually worked in my favour while self isolating, otherwise I would have missed out on the young smaller beans that I love to eat raw, straight from the pods. They’re also lovely as a dip for crusty bread or other raw vegetables, just whizz them up in a blender with garlic, olive oil and a dash of fresh lemon juice. Delicious!

Kohl Rabi are swelling nicely, I picked a couple today for a slaw. Despite their alien appearance I think they’re a beautiful vegetable, just look at the colour on these purple ones!

I’m harvesting immature onions grown from seed from multi sown clumps and using as spring onions, hopefully the ones that are left with more space will bulb up but they’re not looking as good as the ones growing in my garden at home. Oh well, they make great spring onions so it’s not a fail!

That’s about it for the harvests on the allotment for now, I plan to harvest some second early potatoes that went in a bit later than usual and the garlic very soon too.

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Even Rainy Days Are Allotment Days

It’s dark and uninviting outside, and according to the weather forecast the cold nip has been replaced by milder temperatures, although it still feels nippy to me. I don’t mind the cold if I’m wrapped up with plenty of layers on but the rain is back which is just miserable. Allotment mooching is out of the question today, I can’t really do much on the plot at the moment but I do love to potter around and randomly poke at the soil, wiping my muddy finger tips on my clothes then wondering how the mud got there.

Seeing as it’s pouring down I decided that I would still have an allotment day but from the comfort of my home, going through my seed stash to get organised for the growing year ahead. January is a great month to think about and make a list of the things you’d like to grow and the seeds you still need to source. The first Coronavirus lockdown last March made it tricky to get things such as seeds (due to panic buying, staff shortages/illness, rise in vegetable growing and concerns over food shortage), I usually make a list early on in the year and then take my time gathering the things I need, however I feel a bit rushed to get my seed order in earlier than I would normally and I have already made a start buying certain seeds such as parsnip, carrots and sweetcorn which are best sown from fresh seed every year. I do collect seed where I can, particularly from beans, non F1 hybrid tomatoes and flowers, but not from pumpkins and squash which can be promiscuous so you never know what you’ll end up growing! I lack the skill and time to ensure no cross pollination takes places in my pumpkin patch, I tend to grow so many varieties it gives me a headache even thinking about trying.Β 

So after a good sort through my seed boxes I pretty much have all that I wish to grow this year, I have plenty of usable seed left over from last year which is great and I just need to put in a very small order to a particular seed company that I like but it’s proving a bit difficult due to the volume of orders they’re currently receiving. A repeat of last year. Hopefully I will make it in time to the next open slot on their online shop before the shutter comes down. I’ve already got my seed potatoes from a local garden centre, stock is running low on them already where I live. I will write another blog post with my full list of what I plan to grow this year once I have everything in place. Ooh look at me getting all organised!

Are you experiencing problems sourcing seed or other garden-related things?

A Very Messy Leek Lesson

A third lockdown for England was announced by the Prime Minister on Monday which comes as no surprise given the infection/death rate statistics and concern over the new virus strain. Allotments are classed as a form of exercise which means plot holders are permitted to use them, the very nature of allotments means close proximity to others can be avoided but of course we should still be sensible. I don’t know how often I will visit the plot because the weather has taken a wintry turn, no snow here in Bedfordshire yet but it’s certainly cold enough. It’s just nice to know I can go to my allotment if I want to, I feel very lucky to have it.

I did visit over the weekend to clear the leeks and it was a horrible job, most of the leeks were just soggy mush under ground and covered in allium leaf miner cocoons (yuk), the rest were formed but in a sorry state and not fit for eating even though they looked fine from above ground. On reflection I should have pulled the lot when I first realised the problem rather than leaving the ‘good ones’ in the ground in the hope they would recover from allium leaf miner and leek moth attack.

Soup anyone?

Allium leaf miner cocoon

Allium leaf miner cocoon on my finger for size comparison

Mushy leek

Visible cocoons of the allium leaf miner fly buried inside the stem of the leek

Don’t be fooled. this leek was full of hidden horrors!

I will now avoid growing the allium family in that particular section of the plot for a while, certainly not this year. I removed as many of the cocoons as possible from the soil along with the damaged leeks and took everything home with me to burn.

Going forward I will use a very fine mesh to cover leeks from the moment of planting, probably Enviromesh or similar. Apologies if the photos gross you out, it’s not something I find pleasure in photographing I can assure you! Hopefully you’ll never experience this, but sadly the two leek pests I mention in this blog post are becoming more widespread and our allotment site is now very hit and miss with leek growing without protection.

Stay safe, wrap up warm and carry on gardening (if you can) x

New Year Wish

Although we head into the new year on lockdown and skating on thin ice with this rotten virus, I sincerely hope 2021 will be kinder to us all.

Above are some of my favourite photos from the allotment. Thank you for reading my blog and following my allotment journey, and for taking the time to comment and like my posts.

Happy New Year everyone xx

Christmas 2020

The year of the pandemic, 2020 has been extraordinary and devastating to many. Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Boris Johnson made an announcement on the 19th December that changed Christmas plans for millions, yet again infection numbers are on the rise but this time due to a new strain of the virus. Oh dear. From the 20th December Bedfordshire moves into Tier 4 along with London, the South East and East of England regions. Basically we’re in lockdown again.

My allotment has been a real tonic to me this year and yet again it will be a safe place to temporarily forget the madness if I feel the urge, even if I don’t actually do any gardening just being there is enough.

The all important allotment kettle for those chilly days and evenings on the plot. Anyone for tea?

As for my Christmas, well it will obviously be small and quiet which is ok but I will miss seeing family. I’ve been good this year so hopefully Santa will leave a gardening book under the tree for me (and a new pair of wellies please if you’re reading this, Santa!). I will use some of my free time to check through my seed stash and order anything I may need, and probably things I don’t.

Whatever tier you happen to be in, stay safe and enjoy Christmas as best you can x