I’ve relegated myself to the garden for the best part of today. Seems best. Plus, I have an acre of work to do. Literally. I’ve spent a couple of hours out there digging up the soil, preparing it for the first planting. Broad beans go in first. I usually plant them in situ in January (last year I planted on January 4th, so I’m a bit late this year) and then plant some in pots to fill in the gaps if any don’t germinate. I planted in succession last year. As soon as the first leaves were visible on the first crop, I planted another row. I had 60 plants in total, and I’ve got about 3kg of frozen beans in the freezer. Unfortunately, I didn’t weigh them, so I’ve no idea what that 60 plants yielded. I always leave five or six plants to dry out so I can use their seeds for next year’s crop.
They’re my favourite crop, super-reliable with beautiful pods. I love their first flowers – and they’re always one of the first things to flower – and I love their furry pods. They’re first to put out leaves, to say spring is properly here, and the first things in the pot. Last year’s frozen crop are still going in to soups now. Broad bean and chorizo is a real favourite of mine.
This year, I’m planning on a few more. I love those broad beans. I think I could eat them at every meal.
I rotate my patches – I’ve got five. The first is the big 10m x 5m patch that was here originally. This one will host carrots, onions, garlic and beetroot, along with a few others like lettuce. I practise companion planting and that seems to really work. I use no pesticides, no feeds (other than nettle tea, rotted chicken manure or leaf mulch) and this method really seems to keep the insects off them. So far. I try to use organic seed, or heirloom seed. F1 varieties can be mighty nice, but their seed sometimes doesn’t stay true and they’re often not the most pest-resistent. On the other hand, they can be bred for resistance so if there’s something that happens in my garden, I can pick some seed that will balance out natural threats.
The second (above, last year) is 10m x 5m too and this year will have cabbages and the likes in it. It will also have onions and garlic in it, as they keep pests off brassicas as well.
There are two smaller ones of 5m x 2.5m that will have potatoes in one and then beans and peas in the other.
The final patch will have tomatoes, ratatouille veg and so on in it. This is the one that I need to expand, because usually I have a lot of things in it and it’s also the shadiest spot, being underneath one of the cherry trees.
Most of the time, I do a couple of hours outside and then come in to dry off. It might be cold, but I’m well-wrapped and get a little damp. Then I pore over my books and see if I’m doing everything right. Nothing like looking over books. My favourite is the Reader’s Digest ‘The Gardening Year’ which must have been massively popular because I’ve got three copies of it.
This year, I’m going to have to swot up because I have a rival. No. Not Mavis. My mother. She’s just got an allotment and I suspect she will be beating me at my own game. Grrr. She is the least lazy, most productive person I know. I need to up my game.
No, I am very glad she is going to have an allotment; she’s born to grow stuff and I know she’ll be really good at it. Plus, she can send me seeds and I can send her seeds now. Yay.
I shall soon be on the lookout for potatoes to chit. I usually start that from January and then plant on Good Friday. Annoyingly, last year and the year before were not good potato years, since 2011 was too dry and hot, and 2012 was too cold and wet. 2010, I got a really good crop. It was hot, but wet. That’s perfect for me.
The potager this time last year. It looks much less tidy now. I have work to do!
Okay, I’ve got a couple more hours to do, so I’m outta here. No rest for the wicked.