It’s January. The start of a new year, and this brings with it a whole host of resolutions. This year I’ve decided to keep it simple. My goal is to grow vegetables. An abundance of lovely, healthy, colourful, delicious vegetables. Ok, it sounds simple but after doing my research it seems as if I could be going into battle, mainly against snails and slugs and other creatures who would dare to eat my carefully nurtured seedlings. Well, that’s not going to happen, not on my plot! For the past few months I’ve been steadily collecting an array of plastic bottles of all shapes and sizes to use as my first line of defence against the brigade of slimy creatures. There, let’s see the slimy ones get over those.
My mission now is to stockpile brassica collars to deter the dreaded cabbage root fly. Apparently carpet underlay is best, but I may have to make do with cardboard. Netting seems to be a “must have” allotment holder staple when protecting crops, so this month I’ll be checking out which netting is best for Brassicas so I can make sure the butterflies and birds can’t get to the cabbages before I do.
Over Christmas I planned my plot for the next 12 months and have decided on a 4 year crop rotation system. I was really lucky when I took over the allotment in that it was already set up for 4 plots so this seemed to be the logical route to take. This year, Plot One will be for beans, peas and corn. Plot Two will be the brassica bed; spring cabbages, cauliflower, purple spouting broccoli, and brussel sprouts. Plot Three is for carrots, parsnips and members of the onion family and last but not least, Plot Four – Potatoes.
This is the first year I’ve been really serious about developing the plot, and have to say that I’ve enjoyed the process of planning the beds and deciding exactly which vegetable varieties to grow. I’ve tried my best not to be too excited about growing lots of different vegetables and feel totally justified in growing 4 varieties of potatoes in my first serious year (couldn’t curb my enthusiasm for mountains of new baby potatoes) and was so pleased to receive delivery of all four varieties of seed potatoes this week. I have decided to grow the Lady Christl variety as my first earlies, followed by the ever popular Charlotte potato as my second earlies. For the main crop I decided to play it safe and went for Maris Pipers and King Edwards. All things being well and good this year, I will probably opt for a more unusual variety next year – perhaps pink fir. If anyone has grown any of the varieties mentioned here, please feel free to comment, I’ll gladly take on any words of wisdom.
So, jobs on the allotment this month will be to keep the plot tidy, keep the leaves out of the nature pond my son and I made last autumn and to prune the apple trees. I have to admit I’m quite nervous about the pruning, what if I damage the trees, or worse? The trees I have are oblique cordons and they have become a little larger than I think they should be. Think I’ll have to bite the bullet and just get in there, details of this I’m sure will follow in the next few weeks.