Saturday, November 10, 2007


Its one of those things you never seem to have enough of. I've been trying to locate some for months to update the blog and now I have some the seasons all but over, just those winter sprouts, overwintering leeks and onions, the spring greens - which have gone in more in hope than anything else but I may get to that later.
There have been at least two updates that got planned in my head but never managed to make it into print. The first had some corny title based upon saving my onion crop from white rot during the wet spell and the second, well I'm not actually sure what that was going to be about now - probably something to do with Christmas potatoes, but they got taken out by blight at the end of September. I must remember to spray them next year and I might actually get decent crop out of them. Still you live and learn.
Any way lets try and pick up where I left things in July with a couple of photos. The first one shows the potato bed in the fore ground with the mixed sweetcorn and leek bed behind. The potatoes yielded really well, a 6ft section yielding a large trugs worth of Maris Piper and Pink Fir apple, although my wife still hasn't worked out how to cook the latter. Whilst weight wise its a good yield, the pest quotient was high and I've only managed to get about 20% that will store. Still this is better than off my father-in-laws plot. There was something drastically wrong with the manure he had this year and it has played havoc with ever crop, except for some reason the brassica's. The 28ft row of pink fir apple I planted on his plot yielded enough to fill a standard seed try, in weight about half of what I planted in the first place. The Maris on the other hand did crop, only we're getting about 30% that are usable or edible.
The sweetcorn turned into a real success, although our annual summer working holiday and the additional shows that seem to appear in the weekends following means that a lot of the crop spoilt - although this gives me an abundance of seed for next year.
The early leeks have also been good, although with the onset of recent wet weather some have shown signs of white rot infection which nearly did for the earlier onion crop. I've planted over-wintering onions, in pockets of clean top-soil made with a bulb planter in the hope of getting an early crop next year. However, before I plant next year's main crop I'm going to treat the bed(s) with Armatillox in an effort to eradicate it.
I do have an alternative now though, having been granted a half plot on the same allotments where my parents-in-law's plot is located. Its in need of a tidy up but it gives me space for more potatoes, carrots, and onions next year, although the year after this space will be curtailed by an asparagus bed. I shall be sowing seed for Connovers Colossal and Mary Washington in late February with a view to having 40 crowns ready to plant in 2009.

On my own plot I've actually made a start on next years potato bed, this is the meadow strip in the foreground of the second photo. Rising behind my daughter are the Jerusalem artichoke canes, which if the weather is ok tomorrow I shall get a chance to check on after a busy 3 weekends away. I may even get a chance to do some more digging, but that depends on how wet the ground actually is. I've started at what in the spring was the wet end, with a view to being able to progress at the drier end once the clay becomes too claggy to separate easily from the couch and bind weed roots. My dowsing with glyphosphate seemed to have a greater effect on the root pile than on the bulk of the plot, although it did retard its growth for several weeks, following the haircut I'd given it.

I've also now distributed the bag of leaf mold that was lurking in the foreground of the picture, to provide organic sustenance to the half of the bed that had the potaotes in but doesn't have the onions and leeks in. If I do manage to get there tomorrow I shall also find out whether my measures against white rot have been successful so far.