The plot, mid April.

Firstly apologies for the lack of posts. I just haven’t known what to write about. I’d known since January that we could have a global pandemic on our hands and since then have been in a state of preparation and high anxiety, as well as trying to get my loved ones to take this seriously. They all do now, but I am pretty sure they all thought I was batshit insane as I was telling them to prepare in January. And as predicted, it was the toilet roll that ran out first, I had no idea that flour would simply dry up for weeks on end, who knew the British public would take to baking sourdough in such numbers. One part of me thinks if anything good comes out of this, it is that people are going back to basics and learning to bake, cook, sew, knit, grow vegetables etc again, and that in my humble opinion is no bad thing.

So onto the plot, well, as you know rain stopped play in the Autumn so we had some work to do to prepare the ground and we started to dig, but were loath to get the greenhouse up and running until we knew what the government was going to do. Seeds aren’t cheap and to have many pounds worth of seeds dying through not being able to water them would have been just a step too far. So we waited. And while we waited we put the International Kidney, also known as Jersey Royals to bed the day before we knew the announcement would come as to which way it was going to go.

Thank goodness, the government agreed that allotment holders could go to their plots as long as all safety measures were adhered to. Never has there been such a collective deep breath of relief, heard the length and breadth of the British Isles. And along with that a part of me felt guilty that we could have somewhere that was a change of scene combined with a little activity when so many people literally have nowhere to go. For that matter the guilt hasn’t left me, and I am very aware of how difficult this lockdown is and in no way ever want to look as though I am gloating. Going to the plot isn’t as easy as you might think, we purposefully only go on days we think it might be quiet, for instance, I only went to the plot over Easter yesterday once the wind picked up and it became colder, knowing that this would steer many people away from it. And on days that we think it might be busy, hubby nips up early just to water inside the greenhouse and then comes back very quickly. It is clear that we haven’t reached the tip of the pandemic in the UK and it is just as easy to become infected at the plot as it is anywhere else, so we are being, very, very careful.

But let me share what is growing, because these are the fun bits I do like to share, as well as having a record for myself. The best bits if you like.

I’ve been pricking out the brassicas today. Brussel sprouts, savoy cabbage, purple sprouting, rainbow chard, kale to name but a few. The cauliflowers and leeks will need a few more days before it is their turn, and I need to sow some summer cabbages and another cauliflower. There will also be seed sowing of pumpkins, courgettes, runner and french beans and not forgetting the sweetcorn later in the month. It is too early at the moment, they will become too leggy before the risk of frosts at night has gone, so it is often better to bide ones time.

Peas and Mangetout are coming along. I’ve poked extra seeds into the pots where they haven’t germinated and the chilli’s that I started rather late on the window sill at home have been transplanted into individual pots. 15 chilli plants poked amongst the tomatoes should see us in chilli’s for the year.

Broad beans. Note the empty pots. I inadvertently left the tray on the lowest rung in the greenhouse, basically meaning it was on the ground. I had already mentioned to hubby that I needed to move it so the mice didn’t get to it, but completely forgot. The next morning low and behold there were big holes where big broad bean seeds used to be. So the mousetraps were immediately set up and baited with peanut butter and sure enough, one very fat mouse has been caught. No others so far, so it looks like he was a lone interloper and our beans remain safe, I have since reseeded the gaps, and we hope for a late crop this year. I am sorry if that all sounds rather brutal, but mice can be a real problem at this time of the year in the greenhouse and its best not to have too much sentimentality about it, just get on with the job.

Leeks are coming along. Two different varieties, one much better germination than the other I notice, I will have to make a note of that and decide depending on the crop which to order the next year. I normally grow Musselburgh, but decided to try a new one this year as well, I’ll let you know what happens.

I’m growing a few quick crops in the base of the greenhouse this year. These are spring onions and coriander and some little gems. We should get something for the table before the tomatoes arrive at the end of May.

And this is rocket, which will be a very welcome addition to our salads.

And this year, rather than surplus seedlings being shared with my next door neighbour plot holder, who I haven’t seen this year, so I am not sure if he is self isolating, I’ve decided to plant them as a temporary measure and crop them for salads in a couple of weeks. It’s an interesting experiment, it keeps me amused. I will also start more peas and beans off in a months time and then another month after that, so that we are still cropping well come the autumn.

So what is happening on the rest of the plot?

At last, the rhubarb is doing well. It was there when we arrived two years ago and it has never done anything. But this year it is starting to show what it is capable of. I probably won’t crop anything off it this year to give it a good chance and then it will probably last me out, I don’t think you can kill a rhubarb plant once it has taken hold. I can’t tell you how pleased I am that it is starting to do well.

The pear and apple tree are in full bloom. You know how much I love blossom, hence the blog name. 🙂

And even more excitedly, the blueberries, who we dressed with an acidic compost seem to have appreciated this extra bit of care and are in full bloom. We are very excited and are hoping for no late frosts.

Nothing to see, but the spuds have been planted.

We still have some leeks, they were planted very late as I was waiting for room on the allotment, which is why they are small and hence no onions, shallots or garlic this year, to give me more room for leeks. I might have to dig them up within the next week or so and prepare them for the freezer, rather than risk them bolting in the warm weather.

The kale is bolting like mad, but there are still a few meals of tender leaves left on it, so we will see how long it will last. Purple sprouting at the back, we should get another flush from that.

And last but by no means least, an island of rainbow chard. It will be interesting to see what it does, I’m not sure if it will bolt or flourish, time will tell I suppose.

And then on the way home, walking up the track, I spied tucked under a bush a few, but very precious, bluebells. Aren’t they glorious. And I felt sad and happy all at the same time. Bluebells are in the woods with very few people to see them. Life is so contrary at the moment, the world is telling us it is a glorious place, with spring, springing to life and to all intents and purposes everything looks healthy and happy, yet our world is on lockdown because we have hidden danger. Stay safe everybody, stay happy.

3 thoughts on “The plot, mid April.

  1. Jenny Dukeshire says:

    Just curious having never done it but how does one freeze leeks? What do you do with them once frozen and I’m assuming, thawed?


    • mandycharlie says:

      I’ve never frozen leeks before, as I have always used them up. But I will wash and prepare them for cooking, making sure all the mud is out of them and let them dry a little and freeze them raw spread out in a big bag. I will use them in soups and stews and there is even a very good pasta dish with lemon, leeks and parmesan which is lovely.


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