What a funny old year on the allotment

As usual I spent most of the winter days thumbing through almost every seed catalogue on the market. After placing my orders with several different suppliers, I was looking forward to getting on the allotment and start planting.

Friday, 14th August 2020, 4:00 pm

My birthday is the 24th of March and this always signals the time to start sowing for the coming year. This year, apart from March 24th being my birthday, it was also the day the Government announced that the country would go into lockdown.

Fortunately, we were told we could still visit our allotment. On approaching the allotment gate, a notice read “Gloves must be worn when un-doing the lock”. Whilst agreeing this was a sensible precaution, actually putting this into practice was another challenge.

The lock has four spools and you have to line each spool up with the appropriate code to open the lock. To actually complete this task wearing a pair of gloves presented a major problem. My fingers with gloves on were just too big to locate the right numbers. After fighting with the lock for a good five minutes I eventually arrived at my plot!

No year is the same on an allotment SUS-200814-155053001

At the back of my allotment I have built a cold frame to start and harden off my plants. For extra insulation I have filled the bottom of the frame with a couple of inches of Vermiculite. What I didn’t reckon on was the insulation would also make a warm bed for every mouse in the district to sleep on and in the morning when the mice were ready for breakfast, they would munch their way through most of my seedlings.

Eventually I managed to get some brassicas planted out in my insect proof cage, then to my horror I noticed some were being attacked by caterpillars. After further investigation I found a small hole in the netting.

Mid May signalled the time for me to plant out my runner beans, all was going well and they were starting to climb up the poles, then suddenly along with the other allotment holders, I discovered the beans were covered in black fly. I did manage to dislodge most of them with the hose set at full blast. I tend to pick my beans every other day which makes sure they are always young when you cook them. I have a double row of runner beans across my allotment which means I usually give more to friends than we actually eat ourselves.

Last week my wife said she was going to visit her daughter-in-law on Thursday and could I pick her some beans to take. I had left them for three days and went down to pick them Thursday morning. Despite noticing a good crop on the Wednesday afternoon, when I arrived Thursday morning, a two legged predator had already picked them for me.

Now on top of all the challenges of the season, we have had the hottest spell of weather for a decade, which despite me watering every day, seems to have made the courgettes stop producing, the leaves on the runner beans are turning yellow and apart from the dahlias, the flowers have now come to an end.

Oh, the joys of gardening! Despite all this I still enjoy every minute of it.