Welcome to our plot!

I'm Hazel, and in Nov 2006 my friend Jane and I took on a half plot at Hill Allotments, Sutton Coldfield - we want the satisfaction of growing and eating our own fruit and veg, and to improve our diet (and fitness!).

This is the story of what happened next...........

Monday, May 04, 2009

Change of Plan...

I had what I thought was a particularly smart idea – by planting the brassicas in between the rows of peas in the legume bed, the strings from the pea frames would form protection for them, & when the peas were all finished & the frames taken down, the slower growing brassicas would have space to mature. Brilliant!

Not a hope.

Having returned from a week away (in which time, incidentally, someone would appear to have swapped the full-length mirror at home for a fairground version which returns a far larger reflection than can remotely be the case in reality), I couldn’t wait to go to the Hill in the drizzle today to see what’s what.

Well, I am clearly not the only one to have had a dined lavishly in the last week or so – the pigeons have taken the opportunity to decimate virtually all the brassicas – only the CAULIFLOWER (all the year round) & the BRUSSELLS SPROUTS (falstaff) have a hope of recovery, I think. Boo.

So next time round I either plant all the brassicas together so that I can net them, or maybe I can get away with not planting them out until a month or so later, when they would be larger plants, & maybe better able to withstand pigeon assault.

Whilst away I read the excellent Digger's Diary by Victor Osbourne – the author’s ups & downs of allotment life led me to variously nod in sympathy, shake my head ruefully & take note of a couple of really excellent ideas that may work for me. It amazes me how much I have learnt from other growers just having a go, as opposed to the ‘how to’ text books. The number of times you hear an on-line gardener saying ‘well, I planted like this, & have never had such a good crop’, or speak to an allotment holder at the Hill who says ‘I’ve always done that, & it works really well’.

Perhaps the moral is that no text book can offer a fully comprehensive instruction on growing for your aspect or location, & that the rules aren’t really hard & fast anyway, with the weather or other factors changing year on year. I’m sure that I’ve heard someone describe vegetable growing as an art, rather than a science, which is both the frustrating challenge & the ongoing delight.

Apart from the pigeon damage, the rainfall in the week following 2 or 3 weeks of dry weather has bought everything on a treat – including, inevitably, a fresh batch of chickweed & poppies. The STRAWBERRIES have responded to their vigourous weeding recently & are in flower, & BROAD BEANS (barry plot19) almost so, the POTATOES are nearly all up. Close scrutiny of the row of CARROTS (manchester table) reveals just a bare handful of seedlings – well, as least they won’t need thinning out.

I picked a large handful of sprouting spears for steaming from what I think will be the last of the KALE (Sutherland), & I just couldn’t resist picked the very first of the new season’s crop, a little LETTUCE (stoke) – just a single portion for a sandwich tomorrow, but my excuse is that it thins the row out a little which will let the others grow on.

And tomorrow I’m going to have to do some serious record updating - going round all the seeds on the windowsills, outside & in the mini greenhouse to get to grips with the next lot of planting out which in turn means making a final decision on the bean frame layout…


  1. You are so right Hazel - people find a way that works for them. I think the reality is that there are many ways to do any one job in vegetable growing. The only problem arises when people think that their way is the ONLY one that works! Heated discussions ensue!

    I am sowing ots of kale and chard varieties at the moment - 4 more mouths to feed now with the chickies!

  2. An interesting subject - companion planting. I always try to get a catch crop in between larger plants. I started to grow a ground cover underneath my tomatoes; spinach or beetroot or lettuce work well and don't compete. It also covers the ground so I don't have to weed so much!

  3. I can't begin to express my green-eyed envy with regard to the Rock Chicks, Flum! Something for me to aspire to, indeed - and I thought of them again when I saw the chick-weed on the go at the Hill....

    I totally agree, Matron - although some things are clearly going to work better than my pea/brassica combo! I like the idea of lettuce-under-tomatoes, and will pinch that idea from you {grin} - the squash-with-tomatoes worked well last year, and I'm thinking of squash under the sweetcorn this year...


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