Allotments Update 29th April 2020
After a dry spell, mid-April saw some welcome rain, with 13.2 mm recorded at the Durley Road Weather Centre in East Beer on 17th April. A dry and sunny week or so then followed, with the 22nd the warmest day of the year so far at 22.1 C, but low pressure now in charge at the time of writing, with more rain to come.
The present unsettled weather may have saved us from a possible parsnip famine this coming autumn/winter, few having come up due to dry conditions through much of March and April. Even Tony S and Crofty have had trouble getting them going, but hopefully the current wetter spell will have persuaded germination. Most worrying is the possibility of no parsnip wine next year for the Colcombe Beer Boys skittle team’s pre-match drinks.
At time of writing, a band of rain has passed through, and the allotments are looking in good shape for growing to really take off. Some decent cabbage and kale plants now being put out, onion sets showing more green shoots, peas now well up, and thoughts turning to the May sowing and planting of things like courgettes, pumpkins, and french beans. More and more runner bean sticks appearing, it’ll be interesting to see who’s brave enough to put the first plants out, but still a bit early yet. However, for sowing, don’t forget the words of wisdom from the late Tim Bartlett, ‘the first of May is runner bean day’.
There’s now no need to be in ignorance of wind direction when working your plot, as Nigel has kindly installed a ‘Beer Lugger’ wind vane near his patch, haven’t seen it capsize yet, but will see how it holds up in the next southerly gale. Talking of new technology, there are thoughts of putting in a PumkinCam on Kim’s patch, so the world can log on and watch them grow through the summer in readiness for him sweeping the board at this Autumn’s Pumpkin Show.
A warm welcome to a couple of new faces, Jenny, who’s taken over John Vaughn’s patch down near the Sailing Club, and Sarah, working on the Ellis family’s plot. Bill and Pete are quietly beavering away on their patches towards the top, I’ll be having a nose around up there for some further blog fodder in the next fortnight.
Most of all, enjoy your gardenin’
Old Compost Heap
Allotments Update 16th April 2020
With the Weather Gods decreeing high pressure should persist across the UK, the past week or so saw continuing dry and sunny conditions across the allotments. However, as I write, a cut-off upper vortex is slow moving over Biscay, with associated short wave troughs bringing increased mid-level de-stabilisation across Southwest England, and potential for deep convection. Or for the non-meteorologists, it’s getting more cloudy with an increasing risk of some thundery rain.
By general consensus the allotments are looking better than for many a year, special mention for Russ, cliff side near the top, a great example of jungle clearance, and now well on the way to production. One good thing from the pesky Covid-19 outbreak seems to be increased awareness of the benefits of growing food in the perfect location. Oh, and also the chance to pose in front of people taking their daily exercise up and down Common Lane, holding a fork, and pretending you know what you’re doing. Also, it’s noticeable that amount of work done decreases in proportion to closeness to the road, due to increased blethering, Kim, Crofty, Nigel, Greg ….. just saying.
Planting and sowing gathering pace now, plenty of carrots, beet, parsnips, onions, leeks, and peas sown, and some even starting to appear. A few rows of runner bean sticks have been erected, although still too cold for planting/sowing quite yet. The first potatoes have pushed through, followed by a quick earthing up to protect against the recent ground frosts. Broad beans in full flower, with the odd ones just starting to set … exciting times.. Some cabbage and kale plants now starting to appear here and there, some fine specimens in Tony S’s cold frame, and half a dozen summer cabbages looking ok under netting in Pete & Mike’s patch.
The usual wonderful Globe Artichoke plant display can be seen across the allotments, although still no-one seems to have any idea what to do with them. So when the heads have grown, here’s some tips for fine dining after picking and boiling them:
- Pull off outer petals, one at a time
- Dip white fleshy end in melted butter or sauce and tightly grip the other end of the petal. Place in mouth, dip side down, and pull through teeth to remove soft, pulpy, delicious portion of the petal. Discard the remaining petal, and continue until all of the petals are removed.
- With a knife or spoon, scrape out and discard the inedible fuzzy part (called the “choke”) covering the artichoke heart. The remaining bottom of the artichoke is the heart. Cut into pieces and dip into sauce to eat, such as mayonnaise with a little balsamic vinegar stirred in, or simply into melted butter.
Not sure whether this will catch on, but you never know.
Most of all, enjoy your gardenin’
Old Compost Heap
Stay safe everyone!
Number 1: Digging for Victory
Week ending Saturday 4th April 2020
After what seemed like months of inactivity due to sodden ground and gales, Bullet finally got the jetstream relocated to the north of the Faeroes towards the end of March, and the Beer Allotments have sprung into life after a week of fine, often sunny, but still breezy weather. Still, it hasn’t taken long for the gloomsters down there to start muttering about getting too dry and having to start watering again.
Obviously COVID-19 is having a big impact on all our lives at present, but official guidance currently states ‘allotments are all currently open and will remain so until advised otherwise. Travel to and from the allotments is permitted if due precautions are taken. Visiting the site constitutes your daily exercise set out by the government. However, any plot-holder who is self-isolating because a household member is ill with corona-virus should not be visiting the site’. So, no excuses for any Beer Allotment tenants, put on your boots, dust off the fork, and get down there and produce some food!
It’s presently full steam ahead with completing unfinished winter digging and spring sowings & plantings of potatoes, parsnips, onions, beetroot, and carrots. Autumn sown broad beans have survived the winter winds and growing away nicely with a lot of flowers now showing. Rhubarb came early again this year, some excellent picking so far, but now, as last year, a lot seems to have been caught by the wind and looking a bit battered.
Since hanging up his tiller, Commodore Croft is able to devote plenty of time to his patch and show us how it’s done, take a look at it over the wall near the bottom, it’s a picture. Tony S won’t be far behind by the end of spring, and Peter A has made a welcome re-appearance after an absence of several years. Nigel and Ginge’s plots also looking good, rumour has it they’re planning a Yam crop this year if global warming continues. Good to see Greg L up and about on the soil again after his sabbatical, we’ve missed Sue’s tea and biscuits over the past year! Kim’s plot also the best it’s looked in early April for many a year, although we reckon he may have put his parsnip seeds in upside down. Julian has also been spotted up in his patch near the top gate, unusual technique of growing on raised mounds, but gets great results. Plenty of others getting out and about, will get round to you next time.
Finally, for those who remember, in the immortal words of Don Hoyle, ‘And most of all, enjoy your gardinin’.
Old Compost Heap