It's now high summer; the plot is in full production and providing lots of fresh vegetables for the kitchen. It's easy to meet the recommended five portions a day. The choice is from sweet corn (Early Extra Sweet ), potatoes (Winston & Pentland Javelin), carrots (Chantennay), peas (Hurst Green Shaft & Onward), shallots (Red Sun), onions (Red Baron & Setton), courgettes (Defender), cabbage (Minicole) cauliflower (Candid Charm) and calabrese (Chevalier).
By the end of May seed time was over. In a few weeks harvest will start either with courgettes or peas. Not all plants have been set out. Some of the successional sowings of brassicas are still in their Rootrainers. The leeks, growing steadily in their seedbed, will wait until the catch crop of first early potatoes has been lifted. Then the plot will be fully planted out.
At the end of March the plot was bare. Now there is fresh green growth sprouting in every section. Most obvious are the peas (Hurst Greenshaft). They were brought on in the greenhouse and, after tying-up, had reached the tops of their 2 foot canes.
By the end of March the plot was empty. There are a few leeks temporarily heeled-in out of the way. But that doesn't mean that nothing has been happening. All four sections have been prepared for the new season. The two strips for the triple rows of carrots, in addition to earlier winter digging, have been turned over as has the strip for the parsnips. These two crops, along with the leeks, are the only ones to have seed sown directly into the ground. Carrots and parsnips have long tap roots that are very easily damaged if they are transplanted.
In February the allotment is really getting going. There are still some leeks in the ground. The few remaining parsnips, beetroot and swedes have been lifted and stored. The last of the leeks will be lifted in March and heeled in. As the ground is cleared, it is dug. Double digging is finished and the cabbage patch has had its first application of limestone dust.
December was pretty much a non-event for the allotment. A couple of short visits to harvest leeks (Musselburgh), parsnips (Countess), beetroot (Boltardy), swedes (Angela), sprouts (Maximus) and the last winter cabbage (Celtic). During the brief break in the weather in the middle of the month I was able to do some double digging. The early part of January was much the same as December.
Visits to the plot are weather dependent. That was very true for December with no visits for the first part of the month. The remaining crops of leeks (Musselburgh), beetroot (Boltardy), parsnips (Countess), swedes (Angela), sprouts (Maximus) and winter cabbage (Celtic) are winter hardy. Some of them will last until February or March. By the middle of the month the kitchen was running short.
No more evening visits to the plot now that the hour has changed. Daytime visits are also cut short by poor light. But there is still time to prepare the ground so that no digging is needed at the busy seed time in the spring.
Summer time holidays and allotments don't go well together. It was a problem before I retired, our holiday time was fixed. July and August are peak months for harvesting and weed growth. This year we took a break in late September. There was still plenty to harvest but we asked someone else to gather the crops and enjoy fresh vegetables.