The Waiting Game

Agent Soph will be the first to tell you, patience and I don’t sit well together, we’re not the greatest of allies. If there’s something to be done, why wait? Yet patience is a tool all gardeners need in their kit bags. You can’t plant your Maris Pipers in the morning and expect to have a sackful to take home for Sunday’s roast. You can’t tell a sprout to get a move on, it just won’t work. 5 spuds

Yet right now, all across the land, gardeners are asking that crucial question: when shall I plant out?

This year, I’m stretching myself a little by playing the waiting game. Sat in my map room (polytunnel), I’m plotting and planning. I won’t be rushed! On Instagram, there are daily updates of people sowing seeds on their allotments. On garden blogs, gardeners talk of wheeling out their Banana Trees from the greenhouse, unwrapping them and planting them out. But I won’t succumb to this media pressure. Have these people taken leave of their senses?!?

Yes, we’re enjoying moments of spring sunshine, but don’t be fooled. She’s a fickle one that Mother Nature, no sooner have you donned your flip flops, shorts and sunnies, she’s cranked up the wind machine and sent Jack Frost to do the rounds one more time. 2 Polytunnel

With the polytunnel in full swing, I can afford to grow my plants on a bit, get them larger and stronger. There’s no rush. For those who don’t have the luxury of a polytunnel or greenhouse, I feel your frustration. I remember the days of balancing pots on windowsills, or supporting them on on towels in airing cupboards. I remember being in a constant state of tension, worrying that my precious seedlings would become leggy. That’s no way for a gardener to live.

Do allotments partake in polytunnel sharing, I wonder? If not we should. We could set up polytunnels across unused plots and these gardeners could groupshare. Costs would be cheaper, there would always be someone around to keep an eye on plants. Maybe have a rota system for watering. Getting to know your neighbour and bringing a community closer together. That’s what we want, isn’t it?

OK, maybe I’ve gone all William Wallace for a moment, but I’m still one of you. I haven’t entirely boycotted the planting, my potatoes are in and I’ve sown both my carrots and parsnips. 6

But the truth is, I’m a little nervous. Last year my onion crop succumbed to the dreaded onion fly. They’d only been in the ground for a few weeks and the whole crop was ruined. Alliums do suffer on our site. My garlic always suffers from rust, no matter how far apart I plant them for maximum ventilation. We’re only into April and my garlic leaves already have small patches of the dreaded rust. 1 Onion

I know, I’m acting like an over-protective father, but I brought these vegetables into the world! Is it wrong I only want the best for them?

Maybe it’s time to let a few of them go. The next sunny morning we have, I’ll find them a good plot to go to. They’ll be happy.3 Hand

I remember when I could still cradle them in my hands..  they grow up so fast!

sniff! AdeSignature

Last Days of Summer

The Autumn Equinox is but a few days away, but I don’t need a calender to tell me autumn is coming. The cooler weather has slowed down the courgette and marrow production, the outdoor tomatoes are starting to look the worse for wear and the cosmos is needing constant pruning to maintain its good looks.

On the allotment, the last of the potatoes have been dug up. You may recall I’ve tried three new varieties this year, Kestrel, Melody and British Queen. Well the vote is in and I can reveal.. Kestrel is the winner! Not only did it yield the most, but whether it’s boiled, baked, roasted or chipped it doesn’t disintegrate and has a wonderful flavour. Furthermore, it was the only variety not to suffer any potato scab. For us, this is the premium all rounder, and that’s not easy to say for someone who’s a big fan of the Maris Piper, so we shall definitely be growing Kestrel again next year. 1 Collage

The first of the beds are now cleared, and I have to say, the potatoes have done wonders for the soil. And to keep this bed bursting with nutrients over the winter months, I’ve prepped the soil and sown a batch of green manure seeds purchased from Suttons. I’ve tried this technique before when I was growing crops in the garden and the results were spectacular. 2 Collage

But more excitingly, we’ve started to harvest the pumpkins and squashes. Already Agent Soph is feverishly flicking through her kitchen bible as I type. This tome, which is kept under lock and key and away from prying eyes, is Soph’s dark addiction. Her research, notes, recipes and baking equations are all in there, but I have not the courage to peek, in fear of incurring her cooking wrath. In the dead of night she is often found in the kitchen, working her culinary sorcery, conjuring up flavours not even Heston Blumenthal would attempt.  I dare not  interrupt her during these dark hours and from the safety of my bed I cower, only to shrink further under the duvet when I hear her screams of joy, ‘It’s a success! A success!’ 3 CollageBut anyway, back on the plot, the sunflowers continue to beam, the borlotti beans are itching to be picked and the brassicas have arrived as the new boys in town. So with soil under my nails, a sack full of crops and the sun shining on my back all weekend, perhaps the summer is not quite done with us yet. 9