Sunday 8 September 2019

OUR ALLOTMENT - Life on The Weald, May 2019

OUR ALLOTMENT - Life on (and off) The Weald, 

May 2019

The allotment suffered a degree of neglect in May. Firstly there was the early May Bank Holiday weekend when we had children and grandchildren staying for the long weekend.
I did get a chance to inspect the broad beans and do a bit of weeding, before disaster struck later that month!  But more of that later.  

The first of the autumn sown broad beans

No sooner had we seen off our visitors and we were off to Spain, where the Nispero season was in full swing
Nisperos in Santa Pola market
It seems that Nispero blossom is popular with the bees, so we brought home some honey.  Whlist we are still members of the EU, we can do that but for how much longer? Who knows!

Honey from Nispero blossom

Oranges were still in plentiful supply, so several kilos were also bound for the UK for marmalade making.

Oranges in Santa Pola market

Back home in the UK, apart from making marmalade, and campaigning out on the doorstep firstly for the local council elections and then the European elections, there was harvesting to be done.  Chard was in plentiful supply and came to the table almost daily in various guises.

Rainbow chard stems with garlic
We also harvested some of our broad beans

The brassicas which we had planted out were doing well - purple kale, cavolo nero,
kalettes and sprouts.  We had also planted out some beet (perpetual) spinach.

purple curly kale

cavolo nero

spinach beet

The brassica patch
We were able to nourish the plants with worm tea, liquid waste produced from our wormery. It is very concentrated, but diluted it provides a nitrogen rich feed.

A new plant appeared on our plot, which a neighbour identified as salsify.   It has a very pretty flower and the roots can be eaten - I am told the taste is a bit like asparagus and oysters. We haven't tried it yet.


Some weeding was needed around the pond but we had sown some wild flowers on one side, so are just waiting to see what comes up!  The aquatic yellow irises and the land purple ones were both in flower and looking very attractive.  We are just waiting to see if we have any frogs this year.

We continued to harvest the first early Duke of York potatoes and have been self sufficient since last month.

Duke of York potatoes
They are delicious roasted in their skins.

On the Thursday before the late spring bank holiday, I was wondering whether to harvest the broad beans sown last autumn.  We estimated there were about 5 kilos which would yield up to 3 kgs of beans.  We decided to leave them until Bank Holiday Monday as we were going away for the weekend - what a mistake!

The weekend saw the London 10k and the Westminster Mile and my family had put in a family entry as an early celebration of my 75th birthday.  In all there were 23 in my team,
Go Johnny, go go.  We all finished,  with our youngest and oldest grandsons, 8 year old Jerome and 22 year old Felix crossing the finishing line first, together.  I just managed to pip my daughter, Zoe, at the post but later discovered she crossed the starting line behind me and so finished with a faster time!

Crossing the finish line with my daughter, Zoe 
There were great celebrations that weekend - not only for the Westminster Mile but Charlton Athletic, despite an early own goal, won the League One play-offs to secure promotion back to the Championship League.

Our celebrations were short-lived, however. I returned to the allotment on Monday evening to pick the broad beans and found they had all gone!  The whole crop had been picked.  We haven't had many thefts and this one did not appear to be some random "scrumping", but a professional job.   It was not only the loss of the crop that angered us but the fact that our 8 year old Jerome had helped to plant them last October.

Whilst the Duke of York potatoes will keep us going for a few more weeks, the second early Charlotte and Nicola are doing well and we have earthed them up a little to encourage more tuber growth.  We have planted a few squashes between the rows and once the potatoes are lifted there will be room for them to grow.

Patty pan and Crown Prince squashes between the Nicola potatoes.

Unfortunately not only are the crops doing well, but so are the weeds and there will be much work to do in June to keep them at bay.

John Austin

Hove, May 2019

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