Friday, 18 August 2017

OUR ALLOTMENT - Life on the Weald (and Mile Oak and Neville!) May 2017

May 2017


The year has not progressed as well as we had hoped. Two minor operations put me out of action for a bit in the early part of the year and this delayed some of the heavier physical work needed, including getting the shed up. Before we got the half-plot at The Weald we had been co-working Luke and Nicole's half plot at Mile Oak where there is a shed. As they now have a half plot at Neville, the idea was to give up Mile Oak but as we haven't yet managed to erect our shed at The Weald, we aren't able to clear the one at Mile Oak, so I started cultivating there again with crops which, fingers crossed, will be ready before autumn. Meanwhile, Luke has broken his ankle and is out of action so we are minding his plot at Neville too! Hopefully we will be sorted by the summer.

We have managed to plant garlic and shallots and sow some broad beans, beetroot and spinach at Neville and put in a couple of rows of potatoes. But the dry April weather has been a problem as we haven't managed to get up to water as often as needed. We did plant out some squashes there just before we disappeared for another break at the end of May....

Squash plants on Neville
and we have cleared a patch and planted some purple kale, cavolo Nero and potatoes at Mile Oak.

Mile Oak, 2 rows of potatoes planted


We have sown quite a few seeds indoors which are now hardening off in the garden at home and we had arranged for them to be watered whilst we were away, but May has been so wet it hasn't been necessary!

We have some French beans in trays which we can hopefully plant out in June and some courgettes and outdoor cucumbers in pots which hopefully we can plant out early June.

Before going away in May we did manage to plant out some cavolo nero and early purple sprouting broccoli at The Weald and to sow some carrots and parsnips. I have never been lucky with these in the past, so this year I decided to buy packs of seed strips, which are slightly more expensive but hopefully worth it. It looks as if the investment has paid off.

Our potatoes are coming along nicely. They had a bit of a setback because of the April drought but have now been well watered by our neighbours while we were away and are back to life.

We have also harvested our first broad beans at The Weald



and it looks as though we will have a bumper crop this year - so we need to make some room in the freezer.

Luke is very fond of his squashes but because of his ankle had not sown any. Fortunately, I saw an end of line offer at Sutton Seeds for "plugs" at 99p for three and went a bit over the top and bought a whole load for Luke and me to share. Under Luke's supervision we have planted several varieties on his plot and I have potted up the remainder ready for planting at The Weald when I get back.

I bought three different varieties of patty pan squash, dark green, light green and yellow. And we have three other different squashes - we will see later in the year if they look anything like the catalogue pictures (below) or live up to their reputation

Uchiki Kuri -



A teardrop-shaped Japanese squash. They say it's easy to grow and has a sweet and nutty flavour. Uchiki Kuri is supposed to set around four 1.5kg fruits per plant. We'll see if they live up to their reputation! They are said to be hardy and drought-tolerant;

Honey boat -

- which is advertised as "easier to grow, more productive and sweeter than a butternut squash" and said to produce "super sweet fruit with firm, deep orange flesh". It's claimed that they also keep well throughout winter; and

Crown Prince -

which is claimed to be an allotment grower's favourite. The blurb says "it has a nutty, honey-like depth and smooth, pudding-like flesh making it a superb choice for roasting". It is also one of the most long-storing of all squashes.

I have planted some patty pan squashes and a Crown Prince at Mile Oak as well as pumpkin.

Off to Samarkand. Fingers crossed that everything survives until we get home

John Austin

Hove, May 2017

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