After a longer than planned absence from blogging I felt that a rain soaked Saturday morning was as good a time as any to pick up the virtual pen and write a few lines.
The garden and allotment have kept me very busy indeed over the past couple of months and I am not taking the foot off the accelerator yet. There have been a number of great crops stealing the show over the hungry gap. Chief amongst them has to be the Purple Sprouting Brocolli which has been the gift that has kept on giving. Since first cropping in early February it is only now reaching the end of its useful life. Compare this to last year when the beast from the east and sudden warming thereafter brought a sudden, short burst of harvests – I had yet to experience how useful this crop could actually be. If you have never grown this before – I heartily recommend it for its ease both at propagation stage and harvest.
Many of my overwintering veg has also come through extremely well. The Broad Beans planted in November last year following an October sowing have been in flower since March and are now beginning to produce the first little pods. I was a little sceptical about how well the technique of overwintering would be but from now on – I will be continuing this method. After a bit of extra daylight and warmth in March – the young plants jumped back into life and are now putting on an amazing show. The extra few weeks gained from harvesting the beans early in the summer will hopefully give me the opportunity to plant a successional crop of sweetcorn or pumpkins in its space. I have learnt a lot over the past year in regards to the potential capacity that a small garden can provide with six monthly cropping. The increase in the range of plants that can be grown is doubled and the space is utilised as efficiently as possible.
The other experimental crop for overwintering has been the Tomatoes – grown in the conservatory from cuttings made on the 29th September. The plant is now in flower and is growing with amazing vigour. I cannot wait for my first crop of Tomatoes and am intrigued to see how early in the year this will be? In 2018 after weeks of continuous heat it was mid-July before any were close to being ripe and therefore if the season can be extended even by a few weeks – then it will have been a worthwhile venture.
With the recent warmth over Easter and deluge this weekend – the garden has gone into turbo growth. All the early Spring sowings such as beetroot, spinach and radish have responded well. The first radish being picked on Good Friday from the allotment. They are great for catch crops and I have also planted many between my rows of peas and sowings of parsnips.
Next on my list for sowings will be French, Runner Beans and winter squashes. The Beans can wait until mid May and will follow spinach. I am aiming to grow these both for summer cropping as well as drying for Winter storage.
I have also held back on sowings of Kale and PSB this year. A lesson learnt from last year is that there is little advantage to sowing these early. Mid June seems to be more than adequate and it has the benefit of keeping space vacant for other vegetables such as Leeks that take up more time in the soil. So far I am feeling positive about the upcoming season. I have refined my timings and growing methods over the last two years and I reckon that with the addition of an allotment – I could very well nudge myself towards a self sufficient existence?