Things you learn on allotments

Garlic and onions: One neighbour of mine is trying a new idea – garlic doesn’t bolt, while some onions do (the heat-treated sets don’t do it so much, but aren’t always the varieties keen gardeners want to grow) … so, if one grew garlic in between rows of onion sets, might the garlic inhibit the bolting in the onions? Nobody seems to know, but it seems a worthwhile experiment and I shall be watching the results with interest.

Leaf beets: these are variously known as perpetual spinach, Swiss chard, silver beet, ruby chard, and seakale. They are really easy to grow and you can cut and come again to the plants right through the winter, although as soon as the weather warms up, they run to seed. They have almost no pests or problems, even slugs will only eat them if there is nothing else around. What I didn’t know was that they are maritime plants (growing on or near the coast) and that to get the best from them, you should feed them with marine products like seaweed. We’ve only given them the standard compost treatment we give most leafy greens, so next year we’re going to try a regular seaweed feed on our ruby chard (see photo) and see what happens.

Jerusalem artichokes: can be invasive! Seriously, I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it for myself but visiting a South London allotment this weekend I was treated to the site of an entire plot taken over by these tubers! The plot holder had left them in over the winter assuming the bad weather would kill them off, but instead they’d simply colonised the entire area! I came home with a bagful … they make lovely soup.

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Monday, March 10, 2008

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