Slow allotment gardening in the life of a busy family
Sunday, 17 May 2015
Seven months since I last posted here, so Blogger kindly informs me, as it keeps track of my absence from its clutches. I've lost track of how many about-turns we've done as to whether we keep the allotment or give it up. For the moment we've decided to stop being so...introspective about it and just get on and grow what we can in the limited time we have available. Here's a quick tour of the plot in its post-winter state. First, the brassica cage. Actually the cage may be our best growing item! It's stood up to some ferocious gales this winter. We haven't had any real snow, however, and that's the weak point of any netting-covered structure. I saw recently in the Harrod catalogue (that's Harrod Horticultural, not Harrods of London) that they've improved on the 'build-a-ball' construction of our cage and now sell a locking system that keeps the poles lodged more securely in the joining units. Given how much it cost in the first place we're not about to abandon ours for a newer model, but I do have my eye on it for the future. Inside the cage from left to right we have kale, which has been a great success and kept us supplied with greens throughout the winter, although some of us more happily than others. Let's just say that my husband doesn't share the love I have for kale. Next is a row of what I was convinced was sprouting broccoli but which grew painfully slowly, failed to sprout, and is now flowering. Then there's a row of something I will reveal in my next post, followed at the right by the leafy stuff which I thought was spring greens. Really, I must label what I plant rather than thinking I'll remember.
Beyond the cage is the leek bed, variety Musselburgh. They look like all of us at the end of the Scottish winter - a bit tattered, blinking in the stronger light of spring and realising we need to smarten up a bit because people can now see what we look like.
Then come two and a bit rows of overwintering onions, variety Senshyu. They seem to be suffering from that other Scottish affliction, lack of sunlight and warmth. Can you tell that it's still very cold here, and I'm grumpy about it? Did you know that in this month's 'Living France' magazine you could buy a 'charming stone property with pigeonnier and pool, private but not isolated, near all amenities' in the Lot for 248,000 Euros? To the right of the onions is this year's nameless garlic, probably feeling even more grumpy than I am.
Back to reality, and some rather late planted onion and shallot sets. They've since started to put out green shoots, so fingers crossed that they'll pull away.
A little bit of help from a labourer never goes amiss. Our daughter was home recently from university for a few days and kindly set about weeding the strawberry bed. This is probably the last year for this bed. I'm undecided as to whether to take runners from the plants this year or start afresh with another variety. The fruit hasn't been great, and I'd also like to extend the season with fewer plants of several varieties. Of course I can't remember the variety I have at the moment, but I'm sure I will when I start to look at catalogues.
This was our surprise harvest last weekend. Surprising because I have got into a mind-set of thinking that we are just doing maintenance rather than anything productive. But we are actually eating what we're growing.
From top of the 'display plank': what was meant to be spring greens turned out to be cauliflower. Well, it would have been if I'd left it to grow. There was a miniscule cauliflower head nestled deep inside, about the size of my thumb nail. The leave were quite tasty steamed however, and made me realise how much waste there is in supermarket cauliflower presentation.
The rhubarb has suddenly forged ahead, and it's delicious. The leeks are getting to the end of their run, so I'm going to dig up the rest next weekend and freeze them. And finally the rainbow chard has made it through the winter and is fresh and exuberant, and very tasty steamed and sprinkled with chilli flakes.
Throughout the winter I haven't felt that I needed to blog about our forays to the plot, but now that I've returned it's interesting how the act of writing seems to solidify and give substance to the scattered bits of activity that have been going on. Now we just need a bit of warmth so that I can get that other allotment essential out of the shed - the deckchair. Otherwise I'm going to be seriously tempted by the 'charming stone property', if a bit uncertain about the pigeonnier.