I am not one for letting the calendar dictate the growing seasons, but, every year bloggers across the globe pump out their Reviews, so ,despite knowing that nature ignores our plans at any opportunity, I’m going to call time on the last 12 months.
Overall, it wasn’t a terrible year. It wasn’t spectacular either but I had no major disasters so I’m not complaining.
It’s easy to think we started with a thick blanket of snow, but that didn’t come until the end of February , start of March.
The year actually started with my announcement regarding weight loss. My own, not the allotment! I was determined to drop two stones in weight , from 18 to 16, for health reasons.
I did it. I hadn’t set any time goals but it was realised within 3 months. I may have struggled maintaining that during the last month due to bad weather and good food, but I’ll be back to my best size by February.
My first real allotment based post was about Rhubarb, digging up, splitting and replanting the best bits. I also experimented, because that’s what I like, and potted a small root up. I had decided to try forcing a piece in the greenhouse at home.
I covered the pot with an upturned bucket and within a couple of months I had a single stalk of dark pink ,juicy sweetness. I only had the one stalk, but it proved a point.
It was around the same time I braved the loppers and pruned the pears tree and apple trees. I say brave but I had little choice, the pear was getting too tall to pick from and would have become even more of a problem next year had it been left.
The apples just needed thinning to encourage a good frame-work. I can attest to the results of the pruning, we had a good crop of both fruits and the apples were a little larger than the last year, but that was its first crop.
February saw the new potatoes set for chitting. There is still some debate regarding the efficiency of this practice but the general feeling is, it helps get an early start on the first tubers but the lates don’t really benefit. I don’t grow main crop potatoes so I chit. Varieties?
Rocket and Pentland Javelin. A relatively new and an old reliable variety. Results were mixed but a lot of that was due to space issues, weather and timing for planting.
March saw sharp frosts and special offers. Snow fell and garlic grew. The weather kept us all from doing anything other than plan and sow indoors. Luckily, seeds were plentiful as most of the gardening magazines were giving them away in bundles. Keep that in mind this year too.
If we get more of the white stuff, remember to do what I did last year, get some covers down. Once the worst had melted away I put mini tunnel cloches out on as many beds as I could, to dry and warm the soil in preparation. Some of that preparation was digging and lining a hole for my first Fig tree, something I’ve been after since I first tasted one fresh from the tree at Uphill Manor.
April became much of the same. More seeds and by now some results. Butternut and tomatoes popping through. After the snows of March we had the rains of April. Showers maybe but enough on already sodden soil to cause issues. Clay soil like mine doesn’t drain well, which is why I grow in beds and follow the no dig system. April also saw the first harvest of rhubarb. Earlier than expected and very welcome.
In fact, looking back, April was quite the busiest month so far. Potatoes started in bags at home, Polytunnel construction finished and plenty of new life starting in the seed trays.
May and June seem like a million years ago now but they were the start of the migration of plants and seed from home to the plot. Support frames were constructed for the beans and peas sown at the same time. Tomatoes potted on and more seeds sown. The tunnel was getting closer to full with raised beds and compost going in.
The movement went the other direction too, with the first strawberries coming home, at least the ones that didn’t get eaten on site!
It was time for the cardboard revolution to start gaining pace with grass clippings and compost piling on top. No dig is the way forward!
July was time for the garden at home to get a bit of an upgrade. Gravel mulch laid over a weed membrane fitted around the existing shrubs. As a late tip, try putting the weed cover down first, then planting through. Fitting it all around well established plants is a nightmare best avoided.
The allotment was in full flow by then, with the longer ays and brilliant weather.The first summer fruits were coming in strong and the squash were going out. The tomatoes were by now starting to fill out and they brought some surprises themselves.
That was labelled as Indigo Blue, a medium to cherry sized dark purple !
Anyway, that was a rough round up of the first half of 2018.
I’ll work on the second half next!