Photo: Anne Akers

Anne’s Patch: Catching up and up-cycling

4 June 2018

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Lots of sunshine, a few showers and the allotment is catching up, writes Anne Akers.

The potatoes have thrown out green leaves on top, which means they have lots of little potatoey bottoms growing underground.

Looking around at others, which is the way I have learned, there are different approaches to getting the best out of the crops, but the aim is the same, keep the tubers buried by adding extra soil as the stalks grow. Green potatoes are definitely a bad idea and will give you more than belly ache!

Broad beans have made the journey from the greenhouse at home to the allotment, and they are now in flower.

Another lesson learned is to make sure they are quite close together and staked, as their fleshy stalks can easily snap.  But on the other hand, not too close together you have to get near enough to pick the pods!

Peas, which can be planted straight into the ground, are pushing their way up, even though the soil isn’t as fine as I’d have liked.

I’ve planted Shiraz Mangetout, named because of their colour, not for any alcoholic properties and also Asparagus Peas as well as the common-or garden podded pea.

Purple French beans are also emerging, I like to grow crops that are expensive to buy in the shops, or unusual, or maybe not available, like gooseberries, no-one sells gooseberries.

I also have an assortment of donated seedlings. As often happens on the allotment, there’s an abundance and being canny Yorkshire folk, we can’t bear to throw anything away. So I have a few random cabbage, celeriac and chard.

I’ve even planted someone’s spare pea plants in my garden at home where they can grow next to the ornamental sweet peas.

Allotments are also great places for up-cycling. Old window frames are ideal for cold frames which can be a half-way house between the hot greenhouse and the cold soil. Pallets are useful to divide beds, or act as a fence and old scaffolding boards are great for walking on as you plant.

Old plastic bottles are everywhere, cut in half to act as little mini greenhouses, or stuck on canes to support netting, someone else’s cast-offs are an allotmenteer’s gain, waste not, want not, eh?

My latest prize is an old-fashioned hoe and a rake, both warm and a bit rusty, but an absolute bargain at £1 each from a charity stall.

It makes me very happy to know I’m gardening with something that’s probably older than me, definitely seen more gardening than me, cheap, and saving something from being chucked into landfill!


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Mary says:

Plastic bottles with the bottoms cut off can be inserted, neck down, in the ground to act as water dispensers. Pour water into them from a small watering can and they will ensure that water gets exactly where it’s needed with no waste. Leave the bottles in for the future.