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Planted up at last

Posted by Guy Barter on 22 Jun 2009 at 04:20 PM

After six weeks of devoting every spare minute to sowing and planting and keeping the young plants alive, it is at last over, the allotment is fully planted. There are few oddments to do such as some module-raised Swedes to plant next week, but with a splurge of planting, autumn cauliflowers including romanesco, purple cape winter cauliflowers and purple sprouting broccoli the last of the significant planting was done this weekend.  The final sowing was a short row of Florence fennel.

From now on it is just a matter of replacing spent crops, a much more leisurely activity.  Early potatoes have been variable – the ‘Accent ‘(February planted) under fleece got rather weedy as the weeds grew unexpectedly fast beneath the fleece and got ahead of the potatoes and yield suffered, but ones in pots were good.  However pot grown potatoes never taste as good to me as soil raised ones.  ‘Lady Christl’ planted in open ground (early March) has yielded abundant crops of tasty scab free tubers.  The ground cleared is now ready for winter leek planting.  Deep grooves have been drawn in the soil, fertiliser applied to the base and once weeds have germinated and been eliminated by a contact weedkiller the leeks will be planted in the bottom of the drills as the grooves are officially called.  Further weed germination should be much less and the leeks should need little weeding.

There are still plenty of ‘Lady Christl’ left to dig, and then the other early, ‘Amorosa’ will be lifted, followed in late July by the ‘Charlotte’ second earlies.  This will leave a large area ready for replanting and re-sowing over the next six weeks.  The ground is very dry under the potatoes and replanting will be difficult without rain.  The easiest method is to draw out shallow trenches and plant into these filling the trenches with water every 10 days or so.

The broad beans are also cropping abundantly.  The autumn sown ‘Aquadulce’ have almost finished and the March sown ‘Witkiem vroma, crop is yielding well after heavy watering last month.  The follow-on crops of ‘Medes’ and ‘Scorpio’ are in various stages of flower or growth and are being watered freely when in flower.  Pot raised courgettes and French beans have been sown to follow the first broad bean crops later this month.  As with the spuds the soil is extremely dry with just enough water to carry the bean crop to maturity.

Early peas ‘Avola’ (March sown) yielded a fair crop but again weeds were difficult leading to some crop loss.  Peas are very hard to keep weedfree on sandy soils.  However the follow on crops, growing drier weather, are in better condition and March sown ‘Oregon Sugar Pod’ mange-tout are almost ready to pick.  The peas are being grown under nets and therefore can be followed by crops liable to pigeon damage and another row each of purple sprouting brocolli and cauliflowers for next spring are waiting in cell trays ready to move in.  Late in July more peas and beans will be over and spring cabbage will be sown making a compact block of greens for next spring that will be easily defended against pigeons.

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