21 Feb 2017

On with the plot

~ Rosemary flowering at the allotment ~


I couldn't resist a quick visit to the allotment this morning.  The sun was shining, the air was warm and having cleared the veg patch yesterday afternoon, I couldn't wait to see what was happening up at the plots.  Having not been up for a while, I half expected to see a fair bit of chickweed and couch grass.




I needn't have worried. The hoeing and weed clearing that I did in late November had paid off and there were very few weeds to be seen - although I'm sure continued vigilance is needed. And I still have to tackle a few tenacious brambles. By the way, when does bindweed show itself?  Does it hibernate over winter? I dug out tons of the stuff - and as many roots as I could find - last year but I read on other blogs what a persistent nuisance it is.  Today there were no visible signs of any; I suspect my optimism is getting the better of me.

It was great to wander slowly past other plots and see what everyone else is up to. There's nothing like having keen plot neighbours to keep you on your toes! There were lots of beds that had been cleared and were waiting to be mulched, judging by the stacks of commercially bagged horse manure. A few plots had already got onion sets with 6 inch leaves and healthy looking broad beans. I was intrigued with this idea...


Several plotters had done this, growing broad beans in bottomless tubs - wind protection or slug deterrent, I wonder. Any thoughts? For small overwintering plants, it would be easy to throw fleece over the top without damaging the leaves, definitely one to remember.  Better start keeping a lookout for pots in the recycling. Despite the random placing, these pots are definitely placed over plants, rather than used for growing the plants in before transplanting; I saw them when the plants were tiny at soil level. Personally, I grow my beans in a tight grid having got straight edged raised beds. My plot neighbour has a circular bed in the middle of his plot and is growing beans in amphitheatre pattern which looks rather wonderful, actually. What do others do?

Another of nature's quirky combinations - rhubarb and primroses 


Back on my shared plot, I was delighted to see native primroses sprinkled across the plot - in the grass, nestling up to the rhubarb, peeking out from the paths. How do they spread themselves so far? They looked so pretty on this lovely spring day.  On the walk over to the plot, the hedgerows were studded with clumps of crocus, yellow as well as purple, and snowdrops.  I hope this means an early spring; technically, we're still in the last month of winter for another couple of weeks but temperatures (in London, at least) are forecast to be in the mid to high fifties fahrenheit this week. With rain, apparently.

So, what's growing at the moment? A couple of the beds on my shared plot are still (in theory) tended by the last helpers. There's no evidence of them having visited recently (loads of weeds and dried beanstalks still to be taken down from last year) but, under nets, they've grown some nicely hearted cabbage, Russian kale, cavalo nero and a very promising looking broccoli - a sort of homage to winter veg. It would be a pity to waste it. That's all I'm saying... *smacks lips*



The rhubarb is looking imminent with 3 inch stems which I'm tempted to force and the jostaberry bushes are covered in buds.  In my cut flower bed, the anemones are all showing (leaves only) but, interestingly, none of the tulips that I planted at the same time. Interesting because, by comparison, all the tulips planted in the veg patch gardens in previous years are showing leaves - yes, even before the daffs have opened, although that's only a matter of days.  This will be the fourth year for the tulips, if they flower - and, probably, the last. It's kinda exciting and I would be waiting with bated breath except I'm trying not to hurry my life along since my niece asked if time went more quickly when you get older. (I told her only if you're a gardener. Although I'm not sure that's true.)


19 comments:

  1. I haven't sown any broad beans this year, but I normally do a simple double row. Don't worry about the bindweed, it will be up nicely by May. :) Mine always ends up coming up shortly after the asparagus. And of course I can't dig the roots out in the asparagus bed, so I pull bits out and it keeps on growing. I have horsetail in one part of the plot as well, and I'm going to keep it covered this year and see if I can't weaken it and get more out. That rhubarb's looking good. I seem to have a late variety so I always have to be patient. Although I think there's still some of last year's left in the freezer... CJ xx

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    1. Gaaah! I suspected that bindweed would be back! We have lots of horsetail here, it grows in giant well established clumps on the side of the railway and has been seen popping up through concrete, tarmac and paving! I've found the best method of control is to keep pulling it out as soon as you see it, dig up any roots you can find and just keep weakening the plants as much as possible. Good luck, CJ!! xx

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    2. PS. I also have a little bit of last year's rhubarb left in the freezer. It looks a bit green and those lovely bright pink stems that I see in the shops always look so much nicer. Hence the thoughts of forcing the rhubarb to see if I can get lovely early pink stems!! Gotta be done once!

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  2. Great images. Yes time does go faster as a gardener but that's ok because we are raring to start planting again. Can't help on bindweed since I have been spared that particular challenge thus far.

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    1. Thanks, Sue - I only had my iphone on me (and a very old iphone at that!) so I'm surprised the pics came out so well. :) I'm definitely raring to get going this season but will start slowly with a few tomato seeds. I was given 3 chilli plants at the Garden Press Event so that will sort me out for chillis this year!

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  3. A nice plot post and good pictures. The bindweed will appear soon enough!
    I usually grow my broad beans in short single rows of about 12 plants, I sow a row early March then another a month later.
    My rhubarb has just started appearing. Bear in mind that if you force it then you should rest it the following year. Flighty xx

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    1. Thanks, Flighty - some good advice there. I have several crowns now on my Glaskin's Perpetual - and it's too big for where I planted it - so I'm thinking to dig up some and force the others. I like the idea of a double sowing of broad beans, my first beans will go in this weekend if all goes to plan! xx

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  4. I have my forcer on the rhubarb already and it is lovely and pink! I've never done broad beans - is it bad to admit that I don't know what to do with them once I have them...? Love the sprinkling of flowers! x

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    1. Oh wow! I'm so going to put a forcer over my rhubarb now, I'm picturing your delicious looking stems! I didn't like broad beans until I grew them myself and learned to remove both outer pods and the skins on each bean. I use mine lightly cooked in salads, quiches, mixed with cous cous or other grains, in a stir fry or made into a bean hummus. I've also found some beans more delicious than others - Karmazyn is my favourite or Red Epicure, both have excellent flavour. Cxx

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  5. Never fear the bindweed is just biding its time. Diligence will be needed. I'm guessing that the onions on a neighbouring plot are the autumn planted varieties. Ours usually grow quite a bot before winter. This year they are looking good. Our primroses are not flowering yet.

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    1. I thought that would be the case, Sue. Bindweed wasn't too prevalent last year so I hope that I'll be able to keep it in check this year. The onions on other plots must have been autumn sown, they looked very well established - and were on a plot tended by some of the good old boys that go up to the plots whenever they can! (Hopefully, that will be me one day!)

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  6. From my experience Bindweed is waiting underground until your back is turned, then one day you will find it sprouting everywhere! No sign of it here at the moment, but soon it will rear its little head all along the field border, no matter how much I try, I just can't get rid of it unfortunately.

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    1. We have it winding through the railings by the flower borders next to the flats here, Pauline - in that situation it can look quite pretty (and it hasn't reached the veg patch yet, the only advantage of being surrounded by paving!). I have a feeling I'll be joining the ranks of the bindweed battlers at the plots this summer!

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  7. I am also intrigued by those pots at the allotment. They look transparent.. old supermarket fresh soup containers? If it's a slug deterrent and it works what a super simple idea.

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    1. I think so, yes, soup containers. Unfortunately I make all my own soup so will have to beg the neighbours. (The levels to which I sink for the garden!) I think slugs could slither over the top - more questions and research needed, I think!

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  8. Oh my rosemary at the allotment will be in flower too Caro so I'm pleased to have read this post. I must get down to see it before it's done and dusted. At this rate though I will need a map to find my way there. As CJ says the bindwind will reappear by May - you don't get rid of it that easily :) As far as the broad beans in bottomless pots I've not come across it before. Would they deter bigger creatures like mice?

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    1. I love to see rosemary flowering and always forget that the flowers come early. I'm pleased to have the bad news about bindweed, I now know when to step up the vigilance! The pots may be to deter mice but - and I really hate to mention this - a plot holder at the top of the site encourages wildlife by putting food out, and that includes RATS!! (The mind boggles.) So, maybe ....

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  9. Rosemary reminds me of gorse. There's a time where it has flowers all over it branches but there's also nearly always a single one at any time of year. I can't quite decide whether this is hope-inspiring or sad.
    The thing which astonishes me most about this post though is that anyone (anyone!) likes to eat broadbeans. And as for growing them . . . is there a proper term for the study of black fly? Aphidologist perhaps?

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    1. Oh you made me laugh, Lucy! I too loathed broad beans when I started the veg patch, only growing them for one of the pensioners who loves them. Having put the effort in, I thought I'd better try them - with great trepidation! I discovered that removing the beans from their individual skins makes a huge difference, as does growing the right variety. Heritage crimson flowered beans were too reminiscent of school dinners (yeuccch!) but the ones I grow now (Karmazyn or Red Epicure) are beans that I really look forward to. And they make a great bean puree! (And I squirt the black fly off or rise to the challenge and squish them.)

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