It is fair to say the last few weeks haven’t been allotment gardening weather! Pleasingly now the days are lengthening and the gardening calendar is moving on.
Despite the cold I had a pleasant surprise at the end of January, when I unexpectedly harvested some beetroot directly out of the ground. From a July sowing the variety “Moneta” has been a revelation. The frost and bad weather hasn’t bothered it at all, here in the north of England. This variety also has the big plus point of not needing to be thinned as young plants.
This bonus crop in the dead of winter, reminds us again that our allotments throw up welcome surprises from time to time. Usually these are good surprises, occasionally they are less good. However, success like this just drives allotmenteers on to achieve bigger and better things the following year. We never truly know everything about our topic and I do find that rather humbling.
This week at home I’ve started to chit my first early seed potatoes on a cool windowsill. Chitting, the early and second early varieties, really does make a positive difference to yields in my experience.
My first early favourites I’ll be growing this year are “Winston” and “Foremost” Both are excellent. My preferred second early types are:” Lady Christl” and the Albert Bartlett variety “Vivaldi”. While mentioning potatoes, I can’t resist giving “Lady Christl” a big fanfare. This is one of the best potatoes I have ever grown with a truly delightful flavour.
As space allows I will also chit my maincrop variety which will be “Sarpo Mira” This variety is famed for its potato blight resistance and rightly so. Last year on my plot it was still growing strongly at the beginning of October. And yes okay I’ll hold my hands up; we clearly like potatoes in our household!
That is what everyone’s allotment ethos should be- simply to concentrate on growing what you and your family want to eat the most.
As we are in February, that means it is time to dust down the heated propagator and make plans to sow some of the longer season seeds that need heat for germination. In this category are: peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers and aubergines. If you have the frost –free conditions to grow these on, then an early start is welcome. If you haven’t then the seeds will germinate, though perhaps more erratically on a warm windowsill.
Finally it is worth remembering there are still plentiful supplies of produce to pick this month from your all year round allotment, namely; Brussels Sprouts, winter cabbage, kale, leeks, Jerusalem artichokes, parsnips and swede.