Allotment tasks in May

If this was Sesame Street, today’s blog would be brought to you by the word ‘lots’.

Lots of Life

We started with lots of wildlife, some welcome, some not. Lovely slow worms, all sizes, all colours but why are they so happily co-existing with vast numbers of woodlice? It’s not that I have a particular problem with woodlice but I’d really rather not see anything bug-like in quite such infestation proportions. Slow worms are supposed to eat woodlice and other shelled creatures although their preferred diet seems to be softer prey such as slugs.

On the other hand, it’s rather pleasing to see those empty snail shells: the slow worms are doing their job in that respect. It’s about time that the frogs and lizards got their act together and started munching up the woodlice, in my view!

Lots of Work

At one point we were wavering between bringing our old bean frame (made from the teenager’s out-grown toddler bed and some canes) down from plot 201 and building a new one with some metal mesh fence panels we’d been offered. I was in favour of the wooden construction but OH liked the idea of a metal frame as it would last longer and be much sturdier than a wooden one. As OH is the one who has to do all the design and building of structures, I usually fall in with his plans. This time though, I suggested we try moving the old frame before coming to a decision and to my great joy we managed to walk the old bean frame down one allotment path and along another with only the loss of a couple of canes, which a neighbour kindly gathered up and returned to us.

I’ve got to be honest, I didn’t want a metal bean frame even if it was guaranteed to last till Armageddon! I thought it would be ugly and difficult to move each year for crop rotation and once our wooden frame was in place, OH agreed that it’s better to stick to what we’ve got than try a new system that might not work as well (phew!)

This frame will be for borlotti beans again. We don’t grow runners any more as we find we get given enough runner beans by other allotment holders never to need to grow our own, and instead we grow beans we can dry and use through the winter.

Lots of Crops

We do like our peas, I can’t deny it, but even for us this is a staggeringly large amount of peas. I’m getting worried now that this hot dry weather will stop the maincrops producing pods (peas like cool weather) but there are already good pods on the earlies and we’re going up tonight to harvest some as mangetout.

The thing with peas is the more you pick, the more you get! Once they start to show croppable pods (if you eat the pods, as we do) they you might as well take off every third pod in a row and stir fry them as you’ll get fatter peas in the other pods as a result.

The parsnips are germinating nicely, the rocket and lettuce are off and running, and there are pods on the broad beans. It’s starting to look like an allotment at last!

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Blogger Joanna said...

I was wondering why we don't seem to have a great deal of luck with peas and now I know. Here in Latvia, once summer finally can be bothered to kick in, it does and with a vengeance - okay slight exaggeration but summers are usually warmer and drier here than in the UK and that means the peas don't get much of the cooler spring weather as it is first too cold and then too warm.

Hopefully if next year our polytunnel stays up this time we will start the peas off in there and get them off to a good start. At least now we have our strawberries sorted, potatoes planted and ground dug. Just need some rain to re-moisten the ground and then we can start seed planting in readiness for the climbing temperatures next week.

May 3, 2011 at 5:28 AM  
Blogger The Allotment Blogger said...

Joanna - the truth is that once temperatures regularly reach 22 degrees celsius, pea plants begin slowing down their growth and fairly soon they desiccate and die. They really are a cool region crop. On the plus side, you should do better with strawberries than we do, as the cool damp of the average English summer tends towards every possible form of rot and fungal infestation.

May 5, 2011 at 6:05 AM  
Blogger Joanna said...

The problem with strawberries is the timing of the wet times, we seem to go in bouts rather steady on off seasons, so we have a bout of dry - just had one of those but still cool, we seem to have a bout of wind, and then a bout of rain. If the strawberries hang off till after that then they are okay. We shall see.

May 5, 2011 at 11:08 AM  
Blogger Pegg said...

Could I ask how you dry your borlotti beans please? If we're successful (only got our plot 4 weeks ago and it's a completely blank canvas) we'll have a feast in September and then nothing again so this looks like a good idea...

May 8, 2011 at 12:42 AM  
Blogger The Allotment Blogger said...

Hi Pegg - we grow borlottis because they don't need to be picked and are easy to dry. Simply wait until the pods become yellow/brown and then lift the whole plant by the roots and turn it upside down! We lift the whole frame and invert it onto ao tarpaulin by the shed where it's sheltered from rain and dew.

When the pods are fully cured they open and the beans fall out, so we go up daily and gather up the beans which we then spread out on trays in the spare bedroom for a week or so until they are fully dry. It's a very straightforward thing to do.

May 8, 2011 at 2:22 PM  

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