I got a bit ambitious last year and took on an extra little plot to add to my allotment. It’s right next door, so seemed like a good idea, but was waist high in nettles and bind-weed and a real test of my determination not to use any chemicals at all.
I strimmed the weeds to the ground and laid sheets of card-board (scavenged from a local kitchen company, the perfect place for huge pieces of card-board) over the ground. Tarpaulin covered the cardboard that’s now rotted down into the soil, one of the tarpaulins is a jarring shade of blue, and not at all nice to look at, but it’s doing a good job and won’t be there forever.
I probably should leave it in place for longer, but I’m impatient to start, so I’ll be pulling back some of the tarpaulin and planting potatoes in a few weeks time.
This is mostly what’s growing at the allotment this year:
I love to grow anything colourful, vegetables that aren’t easily available in the shops and ones that taste wonderful when freshly picked.
- Rainbow Beet, a marvellous mix of coloured beetroots, consisting of Choggia, pink flesh with concentric circles of red when it’s sliced, Bulls Blood Scarletta, has lovely red leaves, Albino Verduna, pale cream flesh that looks a bit anaemic, but we’ll see, Subeto and Boldor. Beetroot is easy to grow and you can add the young leaves to salads.
- Chard, Rainbow Chard with it’s colourful stems, Swiss Fantasy Red will be grown alongside Spinach and perpetual spinach
- Brussel sprouts, it was lovely having these to pick this winter. I bought them as tiny plants but this year I’m growing them from seed, to be sown next month in the nursery bed and planted in a different part of the plot when they’re big enough.
- Kale cavalo nero, another winter one, I’ll grow this from seed planted in May, then transplant the small plants into one of the raised beds.
- Broccoli purple sprouting, new for me but one of those lovely early vegetables that are expensive to buy.
- Cabbage Greyhound, another new one for me, these have a reputation for being difficult, but we eat lots of cabbage so here goes.
- Courgettes Tuscany(green) and Goldena (yellow) beautiful and very easy to grow, useful frozen as pasta sauce.
- Squash Uchiki Kuri love this spectacular plant, it keeps beautifully over the winter.
- Broad beans fresh picked beats shop bought every time.
- French beans I prefer these to runner beans.
- Carrots as well as the usual orange ones I’m growing a purple skinned variety called cosmic purple this year.
- Leeks a stalwart of the plot this winter and another one to be started off in the nursery bed next month.
I’ll be sowing herbs like dill, flat-leaved parsley and basil and plenty of sunflowers and nasturtiums.
The thing is that in my excitement to grow all these wonderful vegetables, I’ll have more plants than I have room for, hopefully I’ll have enough to give away. The garden at our new place isn’t ready to grow anything in it yet, so I may end up using more of the new part of the plot and patrolling for weeds.
all photos: Jill Anderson