Allotment Learning Curve – what we won’t do next year

When everything is so busy, and the thistles are growing faster than almost anything else on the plot, even though we thought we’d pulled every last one of them up in November, and when, if you stand still, the bindweed actually grabs your ankles and tries to climb up your leg, it can be difficult to stop and take stock.

But we did.

We sat down and looked at what we’d grown and decided what we need more of, and less of, in 2010.

• First, asparagus peas. Like The Cottage Smallholder we have decided that these are a swizz! The companies that market these as a vegetable should be prosecuted under the Trade Descriptions Act (or whatever) as I don’t think even a hungry goat would enjoy them. They are fabulously pretty, and we’ve decided to use up the many seeds we have left as a ground cover crop for any bare soil we have next year – they should work like any other legume and if we cut the tops off to compost, their ground covering behaviour which keeps down weeds, plus the pretty flowers (and the roots left in the soil to convey nitrogen) mean we won’t have entirely wasted our money on them. But we will never, ever eat them again. Vile.

• Second, we won’t grow outdoor tomatoes. Ours have developed blossom end rot through uneven watering – not because we watered unevenly but because deluges of rain, followed by a couple of sweltering days, then more rain made it impossible to give them a regular watering regime. Also, blight is on the next allotment but one to ours, so I reckon they will have it by the end of the week – greenhouse tomatoes only for us next year.

• Third, more peas please! We have some kilos of peas in the freezer, but we could easily have doubled our planting – we do love our peas and there’s never a day when I look at peas and think that I can’t bother with them!

• Fourth, spuds. I think we need more varieties with later croppers to take us through the year. This suggests we need to do more research on the keeping properties of various maincrop potato varieties – we have been very happy with our potatoes this year, apart from the ones grown in tyres which were rubbishy.

And by that point, the bindweed had reached our knees and we had to start moving again or become a permanent fixture on the plot. But the picture is our French bean harvest for the day – excellent! And if you think that’s an odd shadow looming over them, it’s Rebus, the Cairn Terrier, who is very fond of raw French beans and will ‘guard’ the trug all day for a single bean as his reward.

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Monday, August 3, 2009


OpenID nipitinthebud said...

what a good example you are. If I'd done that last year I'd have had the baskets full of peas of my dreams rather than the mere handfuls!

August 3, 2009 at 7:48 AM  
OpenID said...

I love the fact that I'm learning do's and don'ts on a yearly main don't for 20010 is Don't plant so many marrow seeds!!

August 3, 2009 at 11:22 AM  
Blogger Z said...

I didn't grow outdoor tomatoes for a while after a couple of years when they got blight, but they've done brilliantly for the last 3 years. I actually had ripe outdoor tomatoes earlier than in the greenhouse this year.

"Proper" peas are most delicious, but I've always had good results with sugar snap peas - if you don't pick them all young enough to eat whole, you can let the peas grow and then pick and pod them in the usual way (and use the pods for soup if you can be bothered). It greatly prolongs the picking season, especially since the plants grow so tall.

And I've always got the biggest crops from flat-podded french beans.

August 4, 2009 at 12:57 AM  
Blogger Tanya Walton said...

I'm having huge learning curves this year too...the upsetting thing is I think I will have just as many again next season...oh well...If we all knew everything where would the delight of surprise come from and how would we appreciate what we have!!

August 5, 2009 at 12:58 AM  
Blogger The Allotment Blogger said...

Nip and Allotments4you, I'm not a good example, I'm an allotment association secretary - that means my plot gets scrutinised by other allotment holders and the fear of shame alone keeps me up to the mark!

Z - you're right about sugar snaps but Himself doesn't like them, says they taste perfumy. I wish my outdoor tomatoes were as good as yours ...

Tanya, you're very wise ...

August 7, 2009 at 10:21 AM  
Blogger Linda said...

Asparagus peas are something I'd thought I might grow, but I talked to a plotholder last year who had a very pretty crop. She told me not to bother, as they tasted vile. You're right, it all seems a big selling conspiracy.

Envious of you peas - mine have failed completely. When did you sow/plant yours?

August 9, 2009 at 11:38 PM  
Blogger The Allotment Blogger said...

Linda - we planted Meteor in January in the greenhouse, and petit pois in March in the greenhouse. The Meteor went out under fleece in March to make room for the petits pois. It seems to have worked really well.

August 14, 2009 at 9:27 AM  

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