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Carrots back on the menu

After an unavoidable week away from the allotment, the weeds are back and the grass needs cutting. But there are also plenty of positives. The beetroot and potatoes are growing well. The onions and garlic are looking good – or at least they did until I sliced through the top of some of them with over enthusiastic grass strimming. Next year I won’t plant them quite so close to the path!

There’s no sign of the slow-to-germinate parsnips yet but the radish I planted alongside to mark the row are starting to appear. Most exciting of all are the tiny carrot seedlings. Cause for celebration after last year’s disastrous sowings.

One of the most helpful tips I’ve ever been given is sow far fewer seeds at a time than I’m tempted to. And then to repeat the exercise a few weeks later. I’m better at sowing sparingly than I used to be but I often forget to sow a second or third batch. For some reason, I’m particularly bad at repeat sowing lettuce. This year I’m better organised and, with any luck, there will be enough to see us through the summer – or at least until we have a very hot spell and they bolt (run to seed).

The loose-leaf variety ‘Salad Bowl’ is a particular favourite. It’s useful to be able to pick a few leaves or to harvest a whole lettuce, depending on the number of people we’re feeding. This year, I’ll be growing them in a new raised bed in the garden, along with a few other vegetables for those days when we’re back too late to dash over the bridge to the allotment to pick something.

Pea and bean weevils have been busy nibbling the edges of the broad beans. All the plots seem to have been affected. Apparently they don’t harm the plants or the crop but the damage doesn’t make the plants look particularly healthy. I’d never come across them until I started growing my veg on an allotment rather than in my garden.  Why is that?

Before I went away, I planted out some peas and supported them with hazel ‘pea sticks’. The twiggy, finely branched ends of coppiced hazel are perfect for the job. I bought mine from Steve Randall in Stoke Row. He coppices hazel in a copse near Woodcote. He’s sold out of bean poles but still had tomato stakes and sweet pea sticks when I last emailed him. stephenmrandall@aol.com

It was good to hear about the Allotment Association’s fascinating visit to Bosley Patch and the amazing variety of crops that they grow. I was really sorry to miss it. I’m a big fan of Tamsin’s bags of green salad leaves. I can’t quite believe the number of incredible textures and tastes she manages to combine in a bag.  There’s a chance to see for yourselves at the Chelsea Fringe Community Garden Day on 6th June. www.bosleypatch.com

Tips from the Allotment:

  • Plot holders are planting out dahlias, chrysanthemums, purple sprouting  broccoli, celeriac, zinnias, cosmos
  • Keep on top of the weeds and hoe whenever dry weather is forecast
  • Don’t forget to save some young plants for the Plant Sale on Saturday 30th May

And lastly, keep your fingers crossed for a sunny day on Saturday 16th May and The Floral Flotilla – the first event of the first ever Chelsea Fringe Henley.  www.facebook/chelseafringehenley/


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