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Cold Weather & Tour Around the Plot

As I write this, on Sunday afternoon, you’d be forgiven for thinking the date was 23rd November not 23rd June. It’s a grey sky, blustery wind, rain coming down the temperature is 11 degrees C. Inside the house we’ve given in and put the heating on.

The only hope is that the met office are warning that 10 years of wet summers could be in front of us. I say ‘hope’ because we all know how reliable their long term forecasts are. So get the sun cream in ready for next year!!

If they are right, it’s pretty serious. It isn’t that we don’t really enjoy being on the plot in the rain but the rain washes nutrients from the soil, cools things down which slows growth and the slugs love it. The farmers aren’t exempt, and we’ll see the prices of home produced foods rise at a time when the international market is set to rise.

Make no mistake, growing your own may be a hobby today but in a few years it may be vital to our survival. The more I research it, the worse the long term picture looks. Countries like China and India are on the up and demanding their share of world food markets. Even in the war, Britain was at best 50% self-sufficient.

The current economic situation doesn’t offer much hope either. Those in a job are lucky to have kept pace with inflation over the last couple of years and those on benefits are seeing them cut. Whoever is in power is going to be hard pressed to keep up reduced levels of payment.

Imagine being on a fixed income. Now double the cost of food. That’s why I think Grow Your Own will be the difference between eating well and subsistence on the cheapest processed pap.

Potatoes

Potatoes in Raised Beds

Potatoes in Raised Beds

Back at the start of March I planted some Aaron Pilot first earlies in the raised bed with a coldframe over. That’s 16 weeks ago and I’d hoped they’d have been ready after 12. But they’ve yet to flower which usually indicates the tubers are ready. I’ll have to investigate next week.

The rest of the potatoes went out on 20th April into the raised beds.

  • Arran Pilot, a first early whose flavour we like. Left in the ground they continue to develop with the tubers growing quite large and they keep well.
  • Charlotte, a second early salad potato.
  • Lady Balfour, a maincrop named after Lady Eve Balfour who was an organic pioneer. Pretty good blight resistance, so hopefully we’ll get a good crop.
  • Mayan Gold, a maincrop noted for good taste. No good for boiling but ideal for roasting and chipping. Has some blight resistance.
  • Sarpo Mira. The Sarpo (pronounced sharp-o) varieties are very blight resistant. These are ‘bankers’ – a crop you can rely on.

Onions, Garlic & Shallots

Pleased to report that these are looking OK. Although I’d have liked them to have bulked up a bit more than they have. There’s time yet but onions react to daylight and we’re on the clock having passed the longest day of the summer solstice.

Carrots & Parsnips

The parsnips are coming up in the barrel slices and I’m pretty confident we’ll have a good crop this year. They need a bit of thinning but through luck or judgement, I’ve managed to sow evenly and well spaced.

Carrots are another story, at least some have germinated but not what I hoped for by far. I’ve got some Maestro and Eskimo seed and I’ve just time for a last sowing.

Rhubarb

The rhubarb is doing really well still, especially when you consider that the strong winds have been blowing some leaves over and breaking stems earlier in the year. Because they’re growing in mini-raised beds it will be easy (I hope) to move them this winter across into the walled garden.

Comfrey

The comfrey plot is established and I’m taking my first cut now. It’s adding it’s goodness to the compost heaps and next year we should be in full production. I’ve some cuttings in pots to go in and hope to double the size of the plot this year.

The lack of greenhouse and my decision to move to the walled garden which is being cleared, means that little else is going this year. Still, something is better than nothing and next year we should be back to self-sufficiency.

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary
4 comments on “Cold Weather & Tour Around the Plot
  1. BobE says:

    Excellent stuff John, could I ask you to describe the walled garden a bit, when you have time. The Victorians used these to extend the season and so in your location it might be a good solution. Are the walls high? If so just stopping the wind will be a bonus.

  2. Duncan Robinson says:

    I agree with what you said about food prices John; in a few years people who have allotments will be ahead of the game. World competition for a limited food amount of food and a series of very wet, cool summers in the UK make it good sense to grow your own – food prices here have already started to increase significantly.

  3. Duncan Robinson says:

    I forgot to say my Great-grandfather had an allotment in Newton Heath, Manchester from about 1935 – 1957. He was born into a poor background in 1874 with rags for clothes and in the days when kids had no shoes; he worked as one of those children in the cotton mills clearing away the waste cotton – you had to be quick or the moving machinery could kill you. He died aged 86 in 1960, but I cannot help thinking that having the fresh fruit, vegetables and exercise from the allotment for twenty odd years helped him reach 86; a fantastic achievement for someone born in 1874 (the average life expectancy was about 46 for a man in 1900 I believe).

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