This is the second part of our Allotment Diary. If you haven’t read part 1, read it here!
Easter was a busy time for re-potting, planting in the polytunnel, growing more module trays (Dill, Vervain, Sunflower, Hemp, Cardoon, Parlsey, Mullein, Sage) and hardening off. Some of the first module trays were now strong enough to fend for themselves in the polytunnel. No slugs or snail attacks as yet although a mouse ate all my newly planted out peas on the 8th April..
On the 10th we planted out the potatoes in trenches, sowed parsnips inter-cropped with radishes and planted out the different Mints we had received into large pots. Leanne also had a mouse attack (RIP Peas) and the horseradish we’d planted out in the wild came a cropper.
A visit by another Cordingley family member for a few days around the 17th April meant we could get some more beds dug and the weather was unseasonally warm (although April is now known as the Welsh summer). We dug a perennial bed which would soon be home to asparagus, jerusalem artichokes and sorrel.
The 19th was a special day as we harvested our first salad of the year – 42g of lettuce, mizuna and turnip greens and a solitary leaf of mustard. Very tasty it was too!
As an experiment we built an outdoor salad bed about 1.5m square to Charles Dowding’s specifications. We didn’t want any nasty weeds in the bed so we dug all the soil out, put slate around and then added horse muck, riddled soil, rock dust, grass clippings, compost/soil mix and then a bag of compost in that order.
By now everything was getting a little stressful as we were counting down to our wedding as well as gardening. During that days before we left we germinated loads more seeds, transplanted spinach, moved lettuce and beetroot to the outside bed as well as planting radishes and lettuces outside. Then on April 28th we set off for the Peak district for our wedding. Leaving the plants to fend for themselves (with some grateful help from others in the community).
We arrived back on the 4th April for a brief visit before leaving again on our honeymoon. We were amazed how everything had grown; the salad outside was great, no nibbles. We picked loads from the polytunnel for dinner: rocket, mizuna, turnip greens, dill, coriander, spinach and radishes. Lovely! We did a little weeding, repotted tomatoes and chillies and disappeared again for 10 days.
Despite some hard frosts in our absence, the fleece came to the rescue and saved the potatoes. The outdoor salad was untouched by slugs and growing really well. Everything in the polytunnel was growing almost too well, some things going to seed. There is more salad to eat than we know what to do with!
Our Scarecrow also found her home outside too.
But the gardening continues. Leeks were planted out (some bought in/the home grown were a bit of a failure), more module trays of spinaches, lettuce, chard, mange tout, basils, coriander, parsley.
The potentially last frost took place on the 27th, we planted cardoons outisde with cloches to stop the rabbits eating them. Leanne harvested nearly 100 outdoor radishes and made a Kim chi out of them, I made a radish top soup which was very green and very tasty. The parsnips have popped through. We still have too much salad to eat… The compost was restacked with hot grass clippings and seems to be working, I dug the final bed which will also be a Charles Dowding-esque bed with slates and no weeds…
We left for the Dark Mountain with a carrier bag full of salad (having given 3 carrier bags to other people!) – we might turn into a mizuna plant in our next life…
June 3rd – I write this on a sunny June morning. Outside the onions and leeks are slowly growing, the new potato plants are looking vibrant. The carrot, parsnip and beetroot seedlings push tentatively towards the blue sky above. A mole has tunnelled under the jet black compost of the outdoor salad bed, disturbing the roots below but hopefully not destroying the lettuces, spinach, chard, beetroot, radishes and rocket that will be filling our salads and sandwiches in the warmer weeks ahead.
The perennial bed has rhubarb growing and asparagus stalks which look like fragile miniature Christmas trees. Neither can be harvested this year, we wait for the years to come to be able to enjoy their bounty. The newly planted sunflowers, courgettes, peas, beans and sprouts are starting to grow whilst the scarecrow tries to fend off the onslaught from birds, mice, rabbits, moles and chickens…
It’s been a very good start to our first growing year.