It is a maddening thing – I have had nothing to blog about for months as the weather has been too wintry to do any allotmenting. And now that Spring has finally returned I have no time to blog because I’m too busy doing all the things that need to be done in an allotment in April!
Today has been wet for much of the day, a sight that fills a gardener’s heart with gladness once some planting has been done. Since Easter the days have been long and sunny, and activity at our allotments more than made up for the length of our absence.
While some seed planting has been done at home in the last couple of months, Shaun and I have decided our allotment gardening this year is going to be very much a summer activity, as other work and family commitments have affected the length of time we can devote to our vegetables and fruit. However, we do not intend to abandon our aim of getting as much produce stored for Winter as possible.
During the long week of sunshine, Shaun has rotivated much of our three vegetable allotments. Once the initial section had been prepared, I got on with one of my favourite jobs – potato planting. While it’s hard work digging all those trenches, it’s extremely satisfying seeing the ridges of potential potatoes. Next on the list were onions and shallot sets, though the shallots are possibly a bit late, they may just have to be eaten a little smaller. Broad beans are finally in too, though this is the first year since we started that we had none in over the winter so I’m jealous of others who already have plants bearing flowers. It’s not too late, our crop will just mature later in the summer – and we still have some of last year’s in the freezer anyway!
The next major change for this year will be in the look of the allotment. We’re now into our fifth year in Griffin Allotments and up until now we have done very little to create a garden space, except for a patch where we have a table and some chairs surrounded by our family apple trees (four trees, one for each of us, producing eating apples between August and November.) Now surrounding this seating area we have planted some shrubs and perennial flowers, along with some herbs, and placed bark all around them. Already the place is looking more welcoming, and we hope to make a patio for the table and chairs over the course of the season, and finally install a shed. I still suffer from polytunnel envy, but we admit we don’t have the necessary time to devote to keeping one weeded and watered – yet.
Last year we really enjoyed using our own fruit. I made jam from much of the selection – blackcurrant, damson, plum, apple, raspberry and rhubarb, as well as a good number of pies with the gooseberries. We have now more than doubled our fruit bushes, as Shaun has plans to make some country wines and the children loved the blackcurrant cordial in particular. As I horde the last bag of gooseberries in the freezer I am considering waiting for a small crop of rhubarb to make a pie tasting of summer, though it’s only April.
Shaun has got down to planting lots of pots of herbs and Chinese brassicas here at home to bring on in the cold frame. Next on the list to plant in the allotment are peas and carrots, while here at home it’s almost time for courgettes, cucumbers and pumpkins…though we still have two of last year’s gracing our front windowsill, much to the confusion of the children’s friends, who think pumpkins are only for Hallowe’en.
As the rain which has been kindly watering my seeds and new fruit bushes and flowers slowly clears away this afternoon I feel an urge to plant more seeds coming over me. I hope I have enough potting compost.