t’s been very dry, windy and warm for the last ten days or so. New plants are coming on fine, as long as they’re watered, and we’re finally bringing home bags of lovely fresh veg to eat, almost before we make it all the way home. All the months spent planning, dreaming and wishing have finally resulted in our seedlings becoming plants – and our plants becoming dinner.
A very satisfying crop to grow at this time of year is Chinese vegetables such as pak choi, along with things like mizuna and good old traditional spinach. It’s still relatively early in the year to be eating anything sown this year, as many vegetable crops take months to mature. Even early-sown potatoes and peas are still a few weeks from harvesting at midsummer in Ireland. In other years we have overwintered broad beans, which would be ready to pick now, but this year we didn’t get them in on time. And so, to satisfy the green veg craving that comes from tending an allotment, it’s great to have our own Chinese brassicas. Shaun generally stir-fries them beautifully the day they’re picked, they don’t need much cooking or spicing up, and they mix very well with regular spinach also.
This week I received two very welcome lots of plants from fellow allotment growers. Not having been organised enough to get planting brassicas to over-winter for next Spring, I was thrilled to be offered a couple of purple sprouting broccoli plants and a couple of Brussels sprouts plants from one neighbour, along with some perennial verbascum flowers. Then another neighbour offered me some more sprouting broccoli plants and a couple of runner beans plants. I find it very hard to turn down such lovely gifts, and so they’re all in the ground. I’m wondering if I shall regret the four PSBs next Spring, but personally I think you can never have enough fresh veg, the earlier the better in the year too.
We also now have a good number of peas that look like they’re going to survive, having outgrown the pea-weavil attack of a
few weeks ago. When I pulled back the enviromesh cover it was clear that the plants now needed growing support, and so I used the sticks from last year’s Jerusalem artichokes and made a fence, crossing and weaving the sticks, each about three foot long, so that the peas will have something to climb on. The result even looks quite pretty for the moment.
However, the biggest success of the week on the allotment has been replacing the sand in the sandpit. Though Alice is now 7 and Bobby nearly 5, they played for hours in the sandpit, with hardly any space to dig or play even as both insisted on actually being inside the pit, on the sand. I will be sad when they’re not asking for sandpits any more – though if Bobby replaces his enthusiasm for digging in sand with digging in soil, that day can’t come too soon! Already he’s showing signs of being the child to have inherited the green fingered gene. Alice two preferred occupations on the allotment are a) reading and b) entomology. Both children also fully enjoy helping on the allotments, as long as they are helping anybody else but us, preferably when there is fruit to be picked and eaten!
In a couple of weeks I foresee a massive jam-making session, as all our fruit bushes are cropping really heavily. I think at this stage we have at least 10 blackcurrant bushes, 10 gooseberry bushes, 6 blueberries, a couple of redcurrants, and a good block of raspberries. We also have plum, damson and apple trees for eating, and apple trees for cider making. There’s no way we could ever eat all the fruit we’ll get in a few years’ time, but we will just about cope this year I think…we can always make country wine!