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Garlic, Parsnips & Leeks

All work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy and I’ve been getting very dull, burning the candle at both ends as well. Saturday I planned on going down to the plot. Went upstairs after lunch to put my old jeans on and the kitten jumped on the bed demanding a cuddle. I remember sitting back with her on my chest and the next thing I knew it was 4pm!

Sunday, however, I managed to get changed without falling asleep and headed around the corner to the plot. It was quieter than I expected for a Sunday afternoon, but judging by the state of the plots, people have been on site.

My first job was to harvest the last of my leeks. They’ve not done badly at all, standing through a pretty hard winter and lasting until March. They’re not particularly large, but that’s OK. Smaller leeks taste sweeter if anything and we’ve had more than enough for the two of us plus the odd gift to relatives etc.

Whilst I was in a harvesting mood, I got the last of the parsnips up. These were just starting to re-sprout and really should have come up a couple of weeks ago. Parsnips are biennial and if you leave them in the ground the goodness in the root is used to throw up a seedhead.

I’ve grown them in a quarter barrel, which is two feet in diameter so, remembering my school geometry, this gives an area of pi R squared or just over three square feet. So I can say that you can get enough parsnips for a couple from just three square feet! Of course it depends on how much you like parsnips. I love them but Val’s not so struck.

Next task was to plant out the garlic I sowed in pots back at the end of January.  The shoots are about 4″ high now and the roots starting to push out of the bottom of the pots.

I prepared one of the deep beds that had had salad crops on last year for them buy giving it a handful of fish, blood and bone per square yard and hoeing it in. Planted them out and that should be it until June / July apart from a bit of weeding and watering if it’s dry.

There’s been quite a discussion on fertiliser on the forums. Some people, understandably, want definite instructions. How many grams of NPK per square meter to apply. The fact is that there are all sorts of factors that should be taken into account.

  • The type of soil – sand, clay, loams etc.
  • Existing amount of nutrients in the ground (as per a soil test kit as without accurate soil testing you can’t state exactly how much fertiliser is available to start with)
  • The pH of the soil, low pH prevents the take up of fertiliser
  • Planting density. How close are the crops going in?
    Rainfall. Rain washes nutrients out.
    Temperature affects growth.
  • The type of crop and even the individual variety of crop.

Having considered all that, I’ll stick to a handful per square yard or so of general purpose fertiliser except for those like brassicas, potatoes and tomatoes where they are known to be hungry feeders. Honestly, home growing isn’t rocket science, it’s feeling.

I noticed we’d had a delivery of wood chippings on the site when I passed by on Friday. Well much of the pile had gone today so I thought I’ll re-cover some of the paths between beds etc.

I like using wood chippings for paths. They’re not permanent which is as it should be on an allotment. When I give up the plot, the new tenant may well decide to change it all about and the last thing you should do on a plot is to start laying concrete paths etc.

The wood chippings rot down to a lovely dark compost in a season or two so when I go, the worst case for the new person is some good compost for the taking.

By six o’clock I’d had enough, boy I’m stiff! Sat on the bench and watched the sun drop below the trees in the west. It’s interesting how it goes down at different points as the year progresses. Makes more sense of how Stonehenge was designed to work as a calendar.

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary
One comment on “Garlic, Parsnips & Leeks
  1. Matt says:

    Greetings from Poland. I am just waiting to get started in my vegetable garden in the Kashubian hills. The snow has nearly gone and now that it is raining within a few days we shall have no more of the white stuff that has been covering the land since last october. My onions sown on the 27th of january are growing nicely at a controlled temperature of 13C inside and I intend to sow many vegetables in the next few days to get them started ready for planting out when the weather really turns for the better, In a couple of weeks it will be very warm and then there will be a Frenzy of tilling the soil and sowing for about two weeks after that it will be too late as it will be scorching hot. what a short season we have her in the hills. Matt

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