December was a wet month. Fortunately for us nowhere near as wet as for those poor souls living in the north of England and in Scotland who experienced flooding (and are still living with it), but definitely wet. I limited what I did in the allotment accordingly.
And yet still we are benefiting from the successes of the past growing season – we’re eating the onions, the potatoes are delicious, the garlic good and strong (though tiny), the herbs still abundant in the unseasonal warmth.
And I’ve already made a good start on the next growing season. The onion sets I planted in November have already made lots of green growth. When I run out of last year’s onions, I can cut some of the green onion tops for flavouring and cooking. I managed to get the garlic in during December, and that too is starting to show through the layer of muck I put on the bed earlier in the autumn.
I finally (at last!) got round to sowing the autumn-sown broad beans (Aquadulce) and some overwintering peas, these in the greenhouse, and they have germinated brilliantly. After last year’s fiasco I’m waiting till they are good strong plants and then will out them out on the allotment, probably covered with fleece.
I did well at weeding the former hens’ run, now officially known as the orchard plot, and began transplanting my soft fruit bushes from the big allotment to the new bed. They seem to have done ok, and its helped me identify what I need to buy to replace old and depleted bushes (some more blackcurrants, definitely, and maybe some white currants, which I’ve never grown before. Plus some blueberries). There are more to move – gooseberries and a couple of blackcurrants.
I still need to winter prune the apple trees. These have produced magnificently this year, despite my appalling neglect of them. Perhaps that’s what they really crave? But they do definitely need a bit of TLC, especially the one that’s practically fallen over.
The two new beds I made when I enlarged the plot last winter are impressively weed-free, and I have earmarked one for an asparagus bed, and the other as a salad bed.
I’m considering whether it might be feasible to build some kind of (small) polytunnel structure over the salad bed to extend the season through the winter. Although we have a greenhouse in the garden, it’s position is such that it gets little sun in the winter and really isn’t great for growing other than in the summer. But it makes a great place to potter around, sow and germinate seed, and store lots of garden and allotment stuff. Though this too could do with a massive sort and clear out in the next couple of months.
I’m also planning to tackle the space around my tiny shed, to make a prettier sitting place and also plant something to grow up over and behind it – I’m wondering about perhaps a kiwi plant (there are some self-fertile varieties), having admired the kiwi vine in the kitchen garden at Stourhead and bought some of the fruits (which are delicious). It will definitely have to be something edible. And I’m hoping that I might be able to persuade youngest son and daughter-in-law to come over for another work day out there, with the promise of good food and drink to fuel them and us along the way.
I’m still working on moving that pile of muck from where the farmer put it for me into my pallet compost bins. I used up the rest of last years rotted down stuff on those two new beds, and it was lovely rich crumbly stuff. Perfect.
So here’s looking forward to another growing season, with new hope and promise. Youngest son and daughter-in-law reluctantly (but sensibly) gave up the allotment they took on when they moved to their new home – there’s far too much that needs to be done in the house and garden before they get to the point of having time for an allotment; and oldest son and daughter-in-law have no growing space at all in their London flat. So once again I want to aim to grow enough to share with them as well as feed ourselves.
I even have a new improved (I hope!) plan to defeat the bloody badgers. Watch this space!