I have proved to myself how important it is to leave a newly inherited garden or allotment plot for a year to see what grows and how it fairs with the weather and soil conditions. I was lucky the plot I took over in December had been lovingly cared for, so there was not a lot of, if any, work to do before starting to grow things. But after 9 months I can see now what needs to be changed.
My ‘Christmas Lunch’ bed idea was a little ambitious with the veg I did plant peaking too soon. I chose the ‘no-dig’ method for potatoes. The International Kidney (Jersey Royal) and Charlotte tasted fabulous when cooked within hours of being dug. While not as many potatoes per plant as I expected, my neighbours were more than happy with my offerings.
I wanted to have parsnips for Christmas and planted the seeds together with radishes (a mixed heritage variety) after reading this gave the parsnips a good start. However, I had excellent radishes but not one parsnip plant so there won’t be homegrown parsnips for Christmas.
The strawberries (3 beds of them!) were abundant and succulent, I was picking them for weeks, and I noticed last week a few were flowering again. They need to be cut right down with quite a few removed before they completely take over.
Another harvest of new potatoes (June 2018) with sweet peas from a very successful crop. There were several varieties – Beaujolais, Mammoth, and Noel Sutton – which I grew from seed in February and planted out in trenches filled with manure and a liberal dose of Vitax Q4. It clearly worked well because they flowered prolifically but sadly were over all too soon despite regular cutting.
I used Three Sisters planting method for pumpkins, runner beans and sweet corn. Beans provide nitrogen, the pumpkin/squash leaves give ground cover shade and sweet corn provides support for the beans. I didn’t get the planting right this year, not reading up properly I planted all three at the same time but the beans should be planted once the sweet corn has established itself. Around the bed I put French marigolds plus a few zinnias for good measure. It certainly made a colourful bed. The sweet corn was not good with the cobs only having about half with golden niblets and the rest were bare, something to do with poor pollination. Sam the scarecrow was a cheapy bought from B&M stores
I was delighted with my garden peas, another heritage variety called ’Champion of England’. They are finished now and I’ve left them to die off leaving the roots in the ground to provide goodness to the soil for next year.
My pride and joy is my Cottage Garden and dahlia bed. With only a patio at home I need to have a garden and we are lucky that we can do this on our allotment site. Planted with roses, Gaura, salvias, larkspur, Day Lilies and Cosmos it has drawn a lot of admiring comments and is somewhere to sit with a cup of coffee between doing a spot of gardening.
Now the time has come to start to get the plot ready for autumn and winter. I have decided to make the narrow beds into larger single beds giving me more room to plant vegetables and extend the garden area. This might sound a dreadful thing to say, but there are too many beds with fruit bushes and they have been left to run wild. For example, I want to amalgamate two beds with very overgrown raspberry bushes, into one manageable area with fewer bushes. It is out with the notebook and pencil to draw a more workable planned plot for 2020.