Photo: Anne Akers

Anne’s Patch: All quiet on the allotment front – for now …

4 March 2019

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The allotment has been in hibernation over the winter, a bit like me, really! writes Anne Akers.

Visits have been less frequent, checking any damage from weather or unwelcome visitors.

It’s not unknown for huts to be broken into and tools stolen, or more likely to be a place for the village scalliwags to take shelter and drink dandelion and burdock. The wind blew the hut to a jaunty angle, but I quite like it, as nothing else down there is square.

That’s the beauty of allotments, they don’t have to look perfect, just so long as we can grow food and the odd flower.

I also have a saying that you should never visit the allotment without lifting at least one weed, especially this time of year when they are still small. Small weeds grow into big weeds, they grow better than some of the vegetables, shame we can’t eat couch grass spaghetti or creeping buttercup bourguignon, I’d be quids in.

The unseasonal warm weather did awaken the weeds, and fooled my raspberry canes and blueberry bushes into thinking they could start to grow. They’ve had a bit of a shock in the past couple of days and have decided to hang on a bit before pushing out any more leaves. Very wise too, we can still get frosts well into May.

The seeds ordered at the beginning of autumn have arrived, so at least there’s colour to look at, even if it’s photographs.

I’ll be planting the usual beans, onions, leeks and greens, along with squash, which went down very well last year. They take up a lot of room, but can be sown after earlier crops have finished. No cucamelons, though. I can say I tried them, that they looked lovely, like mini watermelons, but they were blooming horrible.

Seed potatoes allotment

The seed potatoes have arrived, looking very sorry for themselves, all dull and dark, but before long I’ll be placing them in the light to chit, or sprout. But not yet. It is a frustrating time of year because there’s a lot of preparation, digging, adding nutrients to the soil, mending the damage from winter. At least I could sow tomato seeds, albeit in the greenhouse.

I don’t consider myself a seasoned allotmenteer, I’ve had mine for four years, but it was in such a bad state when I first got it that I didn’t have time to plant anything. With the arrival of new neighbours, I can pass on a bit of knowledge, including telling them what’s on their patch and where the band of clay runs through our allotments and warning them that while badgers may be cute, they are not averse to digging up seed beds and leaving poo-shaped presents.

If the weather warms a little and we’re not flooded out with early April showers, I’ll plant onions and shallots. If not, I’ll wait, sow a few more seeds in the greenhouse and contemplate the harvest to come.

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