How I grew over half a tonne of Veg on my allotment in 2013.. (Super-Blog part 2)

So to continue…

Spring Onions… As I said in the part 1 we love our onions.

 As well as the normal onions I also have a small bed of multiplying onions – like a spring onion but a bit smaller. I originally planted a few bunches of two or three onions and they soon turned into huge bunches of tall tasty onions which are ideal in stews and soups. They have a totally different taste to normal onions. I dig up a portion of a bunch when required by driving a spade through the bunch and replacing some soil to fill the void!! When the whole bunch has been used I replant a small bunch of 2-5 and in not time they will be ready for eating as well. This way one only needs a square meter or so in the garden for theses.  They over-winter without any problem and jump back into growing mode in Spring. I give them a bit of manure and fertilizer when I remember!!

I also planted some new type  (to me) of bunching onion called Ishikura Japanese bunching spring onion. I thought they were the same as my multiplying type but they turned out as a single stem spring onion but grew huge!! I was waiting for them to “bunch up” but also they are not that type… However they were beautiful to use. They were really solid big spring onions and really tasty. I chopped up loads for the freezer for stews and soups etc. Next time I’ll broadcast sow them and get a good number for the freezer.

Potato Onions + Shallots…  Ok so what is a Potato Onion? No its not a cross between a potato and an onion!!! It’s a type of Shallot but normally grows a bit larger bulb. They grow and multiply the same as shallots. I was given 6 bulbs two years ago and grew them for eating a few but mainly for seed bulb purposes. They grew really well but I was a bit late in getting them started. This year I some on a trial basis starting them off at different times. I found that the earlier plantings in December’ish were best. They still did not outgrow my shallots though. So next time they will all be started on Boxing day!! I started the potato onions off in the GH in modules and with the shallots some were started in modules and some were planted directly into the plot.

Once again the earlier started in modules were best. I also planted a few packets of shallots and also didn’t get a fantastic crop from them. I think I forgot to add a good dose of fertilizer when I planted them out.  However I got 1st and 2nd prize on our local plotty show bench so they must have looked good. To me they were small but the others on the show were the same size as mine. I have kept 50 or so potato onion bulbs for seed and used the rest and all the shallots for pickles.. great result.

Potatoes… In 2012 I grew 16 rows and as the summer was more like a tidal zone I only managed to reap a few bagfuls… So this year I decided only to grow 6 rows. I bought a few bags in January and left them in my garage to start chitting to be ready for mid March to plant out.  Main crop potatoes are quite cheap to buy so there’s not much point of growing huge amounts…although they are really nice to eat your own spuds. But the new potatoes are delicious and well worth growing. I put in 2 rows of Pentland Javelin as my first earlies, then  2 rows of Maris Piper and 2 rows of King Edward as mains/second earlies.

I have found that by planting in mid March we can get digging as early as 10 weeks later for the earlies. The Pentland Javelin were horrible and bland tasting at 10 weeks but at 13 weeks were brilliant. Due to the weather I was a bit late in getting them planted so the whole lot were late to be ready for digging. I was pleased with the Pentland but a bit disappointed with the yield of the others as there were loads of small spuds. I also had no time (well probably forgot) to fertilize whilst they were growing so maybe it’s also a reason they were smaller than expected. The slug resistance of the King Edward as always was good and the Maris Piper were not too bad. I Think in future I’ll stick with the PJ and KE only. They were all planted out mid April. I threw some on the plotty show and got a 1st and 2nd so was pleased!!

 

 Broad Beans…   As my over winter broadies failed I planted 5 rows for the main Summer crop. In modules in the house I started some Aquadulce Claudia on 3 Feb and planted them out a few weeks later. Then I did more on 3 March (Masterpiece / Karmazyn / Bunyards). All eventually grew on to produce loads of pods full of beans. The first 2 early rows and the 3 late rows worked well for a longer picking period. As well as eating them fresh we froze quite a few without any blanching. They seem to have frozen well like this.

 

Beetroot… We love our beetroot and have a great recipe for spiced beetroot. Also have it roasted and used in a casserole mixed up along with potatoes, onions, garlic, mushrooms and chicken pieces.. We use the normal red and for the first time I planted the Golden variety. We found them very different, so sweet and juicy and cooked quicker than the red types. The cylindrical long types are great for pickling as they grow nice and long to make slicing easier. The red type although are just as delicious and just need more cutting up. We just use them as they get picked and mixed up to combine all the types together. Ok so enough of that, so on to what did.

In early April I sowed four types into 48 module trays – one seed cluster per module. Boltardy, Detroit, Cylindra and Golden. I had them in the conservatory in cold propagators and within a week they were germinating. I moved them on into the GH a few weeks later. Mid may I planted them out into two rows spaced at about 2″ apart. First week in June I sowed another line directly into the plot as a late sowing. End of June we started eating from the moduled rows. Once the direct sown plants were starting to form small bulbs I thinned them out and re-planted them into another row and they grew really well – I really didn’t think they would do so well.  Because the seed module grows a few plants you get quite a few from the same cluster growing so thinning is always advisable even with the moduled plants and can be used as baby sweet beets – boiled with some sugar are delicious. I’ve never tried it but people say you can eat the leaves as salads as well… Mmmm maybe I’ll give it a miss!!

 

Runner Beans…  I believe there is a difference between “runners” and “climbers” but I don’t know  what the difference in the plants are. To me, any bean that runs up a pole or climbs up a fence is a runner and anything that stays as a small plant is a dwarf green bean or French bean.

 I usually only grow runners as they can be plonked along any fence or staked with some bamboo or poles.  What I did this year was to grow about ?? different varieties. I kept the varieties together and had them growing up three different frames. Old kids swings make great frames and I made some from planks which in total was about 9 mt. of growing length. I planted the seed in modules on 18 April and planted them out first week in June and started picking a month later in early July. So 6 weeks in modules and 4 weeks from planting out we were eating them. Wow I didn’t realize they were that quick. (glad I keep good written and photo records). As I said I grew a few varieties and once again I mixed them all up when picking. I would then cut, blanch for a minute and freeze in take away food tubs which are an ideal size for a family of four. The mixing of varieties gives all sorts of beans with different flavours and shapes and makes a delicious mix. By now I was running out of freezer space so thanks to freecycle, I advertised for a small freezer and ended up with two more – result!!  I also make a good curried bean relish.

 

Gem Squash / Courgettes etc…  Mmmmm we really love our squashes – especially our beloved GemSquash and Hubbard Squash. Gems we grew by the truck load in our previous life on our 12 acre plot in Zimbabwe and are probably the best squash there is. Here is some info on them. I grew quite a number of plants this year and with the great summer reaped a record 130 fruits and they keep really well. I grew them along my fences as they are great climbers and cling to the fences with great gusto. I gave quite a few away to fellow neighbours to try out.

Hubbard Squash are a large very rough skinned squash with deep yellow flesh. Our kids grew up on them as they store for so long and make a delicious baby food. I also grew some Crown Prince for the first time which we really like. Fairly smooth sweet flesh. Courgettes are a must but only do a couple of round and some normal long types because they seem to go to waste as we cant eat enough. Last year I also grew Honey Bear acorn squash for the first time which were really great tasting smooth sweet non fibrous flesh so It was a definite must grow again. Unfortunately this season they were very different and almost like a Crown Prince cross Butternut so hope the new seed will be better – maybe a bit of cross pollination of the seed from the seed grower?? The cougrettes and acorn squash I grew through weed fabric once again and they really do well with it. Hubbards and Crown Prince, like the Gemsquash grow on the fences. All my squashes etc. were sown in modules on 1 April and planted out first week in June after all chances of frost were gone. However I had some fleece at the ready if frost was forecast but never had to use it. My conservatory has all my squashes stored on the floor under the tables and desk.

 

Cabbage & Romanesco…  I tried some cabbages and romanesco but failed dismally!! I sowed early April and planted out end of June but they just did not grow well. I netted for the butterflies so nothing got to eat them but they just didn’t grow well at all. I basically got one small romanesco from the whole patch!!   So I don’t think I’ll be growing them again. For the amount of hassle of spraying and protecting them form the bugs I don’t think it’s really worth the trouble as they are quite cheap in the supermarkets especially in Aldi when they have the special prices going.

Fruits… I have a large Damson Plum tree at the bottom of the plot which bore a good crop this year (10kg) …. up from only one single fruit last year!! I made a few jars of jam with the fruit and it’s delicious. I also have a few patches of raspberries dotted around. Unfortunately the first year was so wet and I lost 80% of my Raspberries so i have to re-stock in the Spring. I still managed to pick about a few kg’s and I also have red, white and black currant bushes that gave me a few kg’s and I still have them all the freezer..

 

So in a few pages that is what I did to grow just over half a tonne of veg on my allotment. Amazing how it adds up.

You can see my web blog here  where I have a photo blog for the two years that I have had my allotment.

A few pics of veg and my new toys for next season.. rotavator and more propagators.

              

go to part 1 here

 

 

..

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4 Responses to “How I grew over half a tonne of Veg on my allotment in 2013.. (Super-Blog part 2)”

  • Roxanne:

    This is a wonderful blog. It is very informative and the pictures are great!

  • annette llangybi:

    Marvellous just what we need to see to prove we can eat well and save money by growing your own.i live on small council estate on llyn peninsula and me and the community are having a go at starting a.community garden this will be our first year having a go at growing veg in raised beds so your blog has inspired me to get started thanks.

  • garrilla:

    hi, enjoyed you’re blog.

    We never really weigh anything or work out what we’ve spent, always making assumptions that we’re saving by growing. Two seasons ago we kept all receipts and weighed everything we grew as it came off the plot and compared it for price in the supermarket and the local veg shop. We estimated that we saved about 800 quid (sorry, no pound singn on my keyboard!)

    Like you I tend not to do a lot of potatoes, 4 rows each 1st, 2nd and main. It would be easy to fill the plot with spuds, but over winter you wont be saving too much as pototoes are cheap. I’d rather use the space for stuff that is expensive in winter but freezable. And there’s nothing like eating food you grew in past summer in dark recess of February!

    Finally, aren’t runner beans long flat beans and all other climbers are french climning variety? My friend used to live in a part of France where the local Fete each was to celebrate the bean, and boy did they have a lot of varieties!

  • michele:

    where is your allotment? are there spaces to rent? where I am it’s impossible to find one. thanks!

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