vegging.co.uk

A novice's guide to producing his own food

The Plan

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My plan for this year

After a dry and hot spell for several weeks, it’s quite nice to see some rain. Good for the veg, of course, but it also gives me time to do some blogging.

The last few weeks have been very full-on — the bees have taken up a lot of time (but more of that in my next blog), and there has been a constant rota of planting seeds in the greenhouse,then hardening them off in the cold frames, and finally planting them in the ground at the allotment. Last year nearly everything was sown directly into the ground, but now that I have a greenhouse, I’m starting as much as I can in there.

There are three distinct advantages to this. Firstly, a greenhouse extends the growing season, so I should get bigger and more veg. The second, nothing goes into the ground at the allotment unless I can see it is healthy and growing (last year quite a few plants — particularly peas — didn’t pop up at all). Finally, seedlings are planted later than seeds, so it gives me time to get rid of more weeds beforehand (a final fork through has done wonders).

Another major issue last year was productivity. How do I get the most out of the plot? I suspected I was too generous with spacings, and could have been more productive.

With this is mind, I signed up for Suttons Vegetable Garden Planner. For a £15 annual fee it promises to keep you right as you progress through the year, giving you planting times, feeding advice, tips etc. More importantly for me, though, is it allows me to calculate what I should be getting from my allotment.

The numbers in brackets are the number of plants I should be looking to harvest. Some are (quite frankly) astonishing. Six hundred onions! Nine hundred carrots! I planted nowhere near that last year, and it shows you how productive my plot should be. However, at the other end of the scale, the planner suggests only six courgettes.  In the same space, I had sixteen plants growing quite successfully. That, to me, suggests I should use the planner’s suggestions as a guide, not a rule. 

The month of May must be just about the busiest in the allotment year as the race to get everything in the ground gets under way. So far, I have planted my onions (only 300, not the 600 suggested, but still a lot more than last year), peas and beans (which are coming on nicely), carrots (the first sowings are just starting to peep out of the ground), potatoes (ditto) and the salad crops (I’ve already harvested some radishes). By the time I do my next update, hopefully, the leeks and brassicas will be in the ground too.

Generally, the allotment looks more like the business this year. Not only is everything growing (so far), but there are fewer weeds, and the whole shebang looks much more professional. I’ve high hopes for a respectable crop, come the autumn.

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