In fact, I haven't been down to the allotment much since September, as the result of moving house and having a very bad back. Things are settling down now and so I am keen to get back on with the Allotmenting.
As it's the beginning of a new year, and almost twelve months since we started with out family plot, I thought it was a good opportunity to review the previous years affairs, think about what we have learned.
So, what grew well?
Potatoes- The early potatoes produced a reasonable crop, but were exhausted to soon. I need to plant more variety of potatoes to ensure a more sustained crop throughout the year, rather than a glut in early summer, then nothing.
Carrots- I managed to grow fistfuls of baby carrots in my "Bucket of Carrots", as well as some quite impressive autumn and winter crops in the main beds. Carrots are very popular in this house, and I am thinking of building a raised carrot trough to grow more in this year.
Onions- I grew them from seed, not sets. Many of the old hands gazed longingly at my handsome onions and commented how they never managed to grow them from seed.
Rocket- which I grew from plugs- very tasty and easy to grow.
Sweetcorn- Didn't crop that well, but they were very tasty!
Iceberg lettuce- bought from church fair as plugs- tastes like lettuce should, not like the watery insipid stuff you get form the supermarket.
What didn't grow well?
Leaks- They look more like spring onions
Spring onions- Don't get me started on the spring onions
Broccoli and Cabbage- well I hope the caterpillars and pigeons enjoyed them.
Pumpkins- the size of tennis balls
Sprouts- the size of peas.
Tomatoes- died when we were on holiday.
Butternut squash - grew well but never produced any fruit.
The jury is out on the rhubarb, strawberries and raspberries, as they haven't cropped yet.
Things that I have learned so far (great words of wisdom)
- don't buy ALDI compost- it might be cheep, and it's probably fine for soil improving, but it add nothing to the nutrients in the soil- This year I will add a better brand of compost.
- It's better to buy plugs than grow things from seed, with one or two exceptions (carrots and onions). Their more reliable and have already had a head start.
- More raised beds (and thus more timber) will be needed. My earlier policy of only using stuff I could scrounge to make the beds has meant that I have only managed to build two big beds and two small, but I think I want at least another four large ones this year. I rather like the Mad-Max-post-apocalypse-shanty-town look, but I think that this year I might have to bend the rules and buy some timber. I will, of course, buy sustainably sourced wood, but I cant help but feel I will have let myself down a bit.
So there you go. That was 2009. In 2010 I will be planting more potatoes, oinions, carrots and sweetcorn. I will invest in better protection for my cabbages and broccoli, and I will be having another go at pumpkins. Wish me luck.