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A novice's guide to producing his own food


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Listen, this is how it is going to be …

I have a plan.

Last year I had a plan too, but it didn’t work out. Neither did the previous year’s. This year will be different, though, because for the first time I am in complete control of the allotment. All I need to do is keep it that way.

There is one major alteration to what I aim to produce. I’m going to start growing flowers (top left, in the salad bed). The idea being, after spending a little too long at the allotment, I’ll surprise my wife with a bunch just to show I appreciate her putting up with my “latest craze” (her words). However, I was so excited by the idea that I immediately spilled the beans as soon as the seeds arrived through the post. Still, it’s the thought.

The rest of the allotment is pretty much dictated by crop rotation. The potatoes go where the carrots were, the carrots where the Brassicas were, and so on.

The spuds, though, will be done slightly differently. Instead of splitting the bed into four sections (salad, first earlies, second earlies and maincrop), I’m just going for the maincrop. The yield is greater, and I’d like to see my potatoes last for at least half a year (we go through a lot).

Oh, and I’ve moved the leeks from their own patch to beside the carrots. Technically, of course, leeks should be in the onion bed, but it’s full, so I’m gonna bend the rules a smidge.

As I write this, most of the potatoes are already in the ground, as are the flowers, lettuces and some carrots. Plenty of work lies ahead, as the onions are sprouting in the greenhouse, alongside the peas, beans and leeks.I just love this time of year and seeing the first plants pop out of the soil. Truly exciting. The icing on the cake, though, is one of my hives is already stuffed with bees, so I’ve put a super on top to collect honey. The Uchman food machine is finally cranking into gear!


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My Fourth (And Final) Greenhouse

This one is going nowhere

Greenhouses and me have had a very chequered past.

My first (which was a small plastic jobby with tent guy ropes) blew into the burn at the back of allotment.

The second I bought second-hand already dismantled and I didn’t have the patience to rebuild it. The third was the polycarbonate disaster.

And I have now gone all-out, and spent a lot of cash on a greenhouse which not only looks beautiful, it claims to be one of the strongest you can buy. I’m taking no more chances.

It’s a belter, though, and I really pleased with it, The nice gentlemen from Woodpecker Joinery actually came up from Birmingham to build it. Prior to that I had to construct a concrete base.

The wooden staging (it was free!)

This morning, eleven days after receiving the greenhouse, I saw the first white shoot of an Alderman broad bean starting to peak its dozy little head out of the soil.Practically as soon as it was up, I put it into action. I must’ve planted about 1000 seeds in little pots, including 400 onion sets, 300 broad bean plants, 90 pea plants, tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, leeks, chillies, and herbs in the cold frame.

That can only mean one thing: it’s almost time to start putting stuff in the ground. Hooray!