vegging.co.uk

A novice's guide to producing his own food


Leave a comment

Something’s been nibbling my sprouts

With the potatoes, onions, Brussel sprouts, lettuces, radishes, peas and kale finally planted, I was expected some action on my next visit to the allotment. Most of the work had been done a couple of weeks ago, so there should be some sign of growth. 

I had already seen some noticeable changes in the onion department – they’d gotten bigger, and that was obvious to see. But so far nothing which was under the ground had actually popped its head above. 

Boy, was I in for a shockerooney.  Just about everything was starting to shoot. Two lines of radishes and lettuce had appeared, looking like watercress, a few of the potatoes had shown their faces, and the peas were popping up. 

A potato. Yesterday.

A potato. Yesterday.

 

But, the sprouts! They were a disaster! Stupidly, I had planted the young seedlings in the ground unprotected, and wood pigeons had pulled up them up before tossing them aside. I don’t mind telling you I was devastated. In fact, this setback seemed to overshadow my successes (another stupid thing). I guess, of all the veg, I was looking forward to me sprouts the most. Last Christmas, my wife Sue had cooked some which were still on their stalks, and they were superb compared to the bitter supermarket variety, so I had been looking forward my own. 

Never mind, at least everything else was showing signs of growth. Something tangible was happening, and I must confess, I was completely thrilled.  

So, what next? All my fellow allotmenteers had told me weeding was the next big step, but most of my plants were so young, I couldn’t honestly tell what was a weed, and what was not. It was obvious with the onions, though, so I let Janek and Anya tackle those, while I set about earthing up the potatoes.  

Even this caused my some anxiety. Surely, if (as I’d been led to believe) I covered up the shoots (which now had leaves), the plant would just rot, no? I spotted Kenny (an allotment regular) working away on his patch, so I trotted over for advice. “Just earth up around the base of the plant, with the leaves protruding,” he said. Brilliant! Of course. That’s what to do. 

Earthed up potatoes

Earthed up potatoes

 

So, with a spade, I pushed  the earth up on either side of the rows of spuds. Although I had planted 24 seed potatoes, only a dozen or so had appeared, but I thought now was the time to earth up everything. Like all my first attempts, the end result was a bit haphazard. But no matter, at least it should do the business. The potatoes were prevented from any late frosts, and hopefully won’t get poisonous. 

With that done, there was one final job – cover the peas. I’d heard that peas were particularly vulnerable to birds, so I bought some fleece and canes from B&Q, and stole plastic cups from my works canteen.  

Together Janek, Anya and I stuck the canes in the ground at regular intervals, popped cups on top, and finally pegged the fleece over the whole thing. Job done! 

The peas are now safe from bird attack

The peas are now safe from bird attack