The vegetable beds

  • Vegetable beds

  • Onions and beetroot

  • Leeks

After the creation of the no-dig beds planting up has finally taken place. I’m doing a very simple four year crop rotation on the beds.  The first weekend in June I planted up the potato and roots and onions beds.  My potatoes I have to admit I wasn’t sure if they’d come up as they’d been nestled away in an understairs cupboard for far too long and very straggly tubers needed trimming down when planting out.  Whilst everything else is aiming to do the ‘no-dig’ way, I’ve put these in in a traditional manner and will try the no-dig potato growing method fully next year. On the roots and onions bed I’ve used some veggie-mesh to give the young parsnips some protection whilst they are still young.  I grew these from seed in cardboard tubes at home. During the second weekend of June, I planted up the legume and brassica beds.  Thankfully a neighbour was throwing out some trellis panels, so I’ve upcycled these into a tower for my beans and sweet peas to climb up.

Bed 1 – Legumes

  • Peas – Deuce Provence
  • Runner Beans – Polestar
  • Courgette
  • Sweetcorn – Lark

Bed 2 – Brassicas

  • Mixed cabbage (red and green varieties)
  • Lettuce – Oak Leaf – Flashy Butter Oak
  • Lettuce – Cos – Devils Tongue

Bed 3 – Roots and Onions

  • Leek – Bleu de Solaise
  • Parsnip – Tender & True
  • Onions – Kyoto Market
  • Onions – Ishkura
  • Onion – Red – Brunswick
  • Beetroot – Sanguina

Bed 4 – Potatoes

  • Potatoes – Oca
  • Potatoes – Anya
  • Potatoes – Pink Fir Apple

This year I had too much for some beds (sadly the tomatoes now to be grown at home as my beds just aren’t big enough to squeeze them in!), and too little grown for other beds such as the brassicas one, so have added some of the ‘others’ that don’t fit into the normal rotation that fill up spaces – these include – lettuce, sweetcorn and cucurbits like the courgette.

This first year of growing is very much a test year. To see what grows well and what doesn’t; and importantly see what damage they may or may not get from pigeons, slugs, mice and rabbits.  Just above the top end of the beds and paths near to the shed, I’ve cleared a short strip of grass and planted out some chives, lavender and wildflower mix.  Into this, I’ve also added some marigolds and sunflowers.  The marigolds and sunflowers are there to act as a quick ‘slug barometer’ for me. The slugs seem to be slowly moving back into the plot munching away at my bread-seed poppies which I’d planted out in the fruit bed, some of the comfrey and now aiming towards the vegetable beds.  I’ve covered over the cabbages and lettuce with veggie mesh, but only loosely at this stage, so slugs could potentially creep in.  I’ll need to keep a watch on those!

potatoes coming upThe mulch of manure has kept in the moisture well so far, and we’ve had good spells of rain since planting too. It feels like a good stage down at the allotment, now that the main vegetables are in.  There are still gaps in one of the beds, and I’m aiming to fill those with some edible flowers and radish too.  Surprisingly when I popped down to the plot yesterday evening for a quick check, the Pink Fir Apple potatoes were coming up well, still no sign of the Oca as yet, but hope they’ll appear soon. I wasn’t sure if they’d grow at all, due to planting out so late, and also with the straggly tuber problem.  I don’t think I’ll get a great crop, but at least all being well a good bowlful at least!

I’ve still got more to do on the plot, as the next task is to move some of the turf pile so it can rot down better and also be home to the squashes I have back at home eager to escape their pots and to spread their roots.  Then I must start on the compost areas too and also more flower and wildlife zones.
I keep changing my mind about how to surround the plot.  I was initially thinking rabbit fencing, or leaving it open, but would like some enclosure of sorts so that Henry, my dog can visit the plot more without worrying about him wandering off.  All around the plot there are grassy paths (overgrown and weedy) that we all share, and may woodchips these in time for easier maintenance.  After a recent inspiring college site visit to Embercombe recently, I admired some of the fruit fencing there along the boundary of the new apple orchard.  Simple stock netting on posts, and instead of being bare, it had a mix of loganberry and jostaberries growing over and through the netting.  I quite like that idea, and in autumn may well implement that.  I have a huge amount of spare soil (currently turf!) that along with some gravel boards could make very narrow raised borders along the long edges of the plot, where I could fence up with netting, and then plant the berry bushes in.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be planted out vegetables in the courtyard too, with some more spring onions, a few leeks, salads, tomatoes and the cucumbers too. All sown plants have grown really well, except for the runner beans (I should have sown more of those, but alas was so short of space with having no greenhouse) and the only non-success of the season so far, is an aubergine that I bought as a plug plant  which seems quite happy, but just resisting to grow much bigger.  I’ve also learn’t my lesson with growing too many youngsters, as have had so much leftover. (why did I grow over 100 leeks?!?)  I always grow a little more than I need, just incase slugs, weather or other factors nobble my first plantings out.  But even with the spares on hand just incase of any problems in the coming weeks, I still have quite a lot leftover.  These supplies are diminishing well now though, and lots of my young plantlets have been passed to friends and other eager veg growers too.

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