I couldn’t believe it this morning, it was beautiful! Almost warm and lots of sun – even the cats just ate a bit of breakfast before running out to play. Anyway, before I could go play myself, I had a little work to do. I sent off the final corrections to another book – Low-Cost Living: Live better, spend less – and that was it, done for the day. It’s a real milestone with a book when you send those corrections off, now it’s up to the publishers and you can relax. Well I could relax if we hadn’t agreed to write the recipe book!
Enough of this boring book stuff, off to the plot!
Unlike yesterday where it was just Larry and me on the plot and he had to go home early, today the site was positively crowded! It’s great to see it so busy with kids running around. As often happens when you get children playing when the parents are a bit occupied, they were getting a little wild. Not causing a nuisance but the state of them after they had a mud fight had to be seen to be believed! Well, they’re not mine so I can laugh.
Garlic & Shallots
Having cleared a raised bed yesterday, I’d added a fair bit of blood fish and bone in preparation for today’s planting. Now this is embarrassing, today I finally got around to planting my garlic and shallots. I’d planned on getting the garlic planted in November and the shallots in February but here we go, mid March. Do what I say, not what I do!
There is a temptation to fib for me – pretend I do everything by the book, however hopefully it will help others who find themselves overtaken by events and well behind to see what can still be done. I’ve never claimed to be perfect. I think I should be OK with them but after last year’s wonderful garlic crop, some of which is still fine in store, I’ve a lot to live up to. I think Larry may beat me this year with his garlic but I could be lucky.
Last of the Leeks
I’d got a patch of very sorry looking leeks left, so up they came. Surprisingly about half of them are actually OK to eat so a carrier bag of partially dressed leeks went home. Val’s going to turn those into leek & potato pies, which will use up some sprouting potatoes as well. 1 for now, 1 for Dad and 2 for the freezer. The rest will make a leek and potato soup which can also be frozen if there’s too much.
I’d a few salsify left and they came up as well to make salsify roast chips for dinner. I like salsify but it’s not the easiest crop to grow. The biggest problem is that it forks very easily so you end up with a tangled mass of roots that’s well nigh impossible to prepare.
I love the flavour of salsify and of parsnips, that are easier to grow, but Val prefers parsnips so I think I’ll concentrate on parsnips this year and forget salsify.
I think it’s a bit early for potatoes but Andy and Clare were planting theirs. I’m not saying they’re wrong, last year I predicted doom for their really early planting and it did really well so this year I’ll keep my mouth shut.
It’s funny, all the chat on the forums about chitting potatoes etc, whether to rub off additional sprits and so forth yet they had a bag of seed potatoes which they opened and dropped into a trench. What’s the betting they get a wonderful crop? I sometimes wonder if we go through a lot more pain than we need to in the garden.
Compost & Fertiliser
Whilst I was on the plot, Val popped down to our garden supplier. They used to do 4 bags of a pretty good multi-purpose compost for £10.00 but that’s gone up to £3.49 a bag – £13.96 for 4 bags – about a 40% increase.
She also picked up a 25Kg bag of Fish, Blood & Bone for me, which seems to have avoided a similar price increase. Now growing your own has become very popular and I have to wonder if this increase on compost comes down to exploiting the market or is it just reacting to demand? Not much difference either way, I suppose – still costs more.
I’ve finally got my photo system working so these shots and more are in Allotment Photos March and I’ve also put a few of the many, many shots taken by the Independent’s photographer, Colin McPherson up in Allotment Photos February. I didn’t take any in January this year.
Strange thing Garlic. Like you I thought I would plant mine in the previous autumn. I didn’t.
I did try to get it going early though so I put some of my best saved Garlic cloves in the ground at the end of January.
Nothing happened, and I thought I had lost the lot to cold, wet or mice, so I went out and bought some new Cristo variety specially for growing. Planted them around the area where I put the others.
Low and behold! Over the last couple of weeks not only have the new ones come up but the first lot as well, all at the same time.
What can you say apart from “patience”!
Just thought you would like to know that Wickes are doing 4 bags of multipurpose compost for just over 11 pounds the price would be 15 + if bought separately and it seems to be quite good stuff in 75kg bags
Just thought people would like to know Wilkinsons’s are selling a large PVC polytunnel cloche about 2ft wide by 1 and a half foot in height by almost 10ft long for only £5.99. Similar cloches cost about £20 in a nearby upmarket garden centre. I’ve got some ‘Castella’ melon seedlings I started in a heated propogator and put them on a sunny windowsill backed with kitchen foiled on a piece of cardboard. I will pot them on from the 3″ pots to a 5″ when needed and take them up to the greenhouse sometime in April. In mid-may, then plant them out through the professional weed membrane and then cover seedlings with the Wilkey’s cloche. The soil is well enriched with rotted manure, blood, fish and bone, etc. Fingers crossed for a decnt summer and I might just get some melons in August/september.
Got the new book John, thanks for the super quick delivery.
On the Garlic front i did mine around this time last year and got a great crop. I also managed to plant some in November and there also looking pretty good as well.
Like you John i’ve just got my Shallots in although the flying rats and a Dog Fox are having fun pulling them out. Can’t think the Fox likes the taste that much but it still keeps digging them out. It was Potatoes last year. Anybody else had similar trouble with the Fox?
Thanks for the book John. It’s a good read. Like you my shallots and garlic only went in a couple of weeks ago and on Monday there were about 25 little green shoots coming up in the garlic section. Fingers crossed as it’s my first attempt on the garlic front.
Thanks for my copy of your book, arived in double quick time.
My garlic went in last October, all through and growing well.
hav’nt got my shallots in yet, perhaps next week.
keep up the good work.
THINK YOU SENT MY BOOKS BEFORE YOU GOT THE ORDER FANTASTIC SERVICE JOHN LOOKING FOWARDS TO THE NEXT BOOK LOW COST LIVING
I had the same problem I was suppose to plant i in the autumn but I did not get down because of weather and work comitment.
I did not get it planted until february and it has really grown.
At the moment I am sowing some parsnips.But the rain has interfered.