Allotment experiments: six on Saturday: 12 Nov 2022

Today I’m going to give you a quick run through of a few experiments from my first proper year of allotmenteering (if mountaineering can be a verb, then why not ‘allotmenteering’? My spellcheck doesn’t agree, and suggests ‘allmothering’ as an alternative, which is actually not far from the truth!). I’ve been spending more time in the allotment than in the garden lately, maybe thanks to what could be a silver lining to the disaster that is climate change – we seem to be getting a much more extended growing season. To demonstrate this bounty, my first of today’s six on Saturday is Wednesday’s harvest. I’m especially pleased that the carrots were successful, after a long wait – yes they are supposed to be that size, they are the golf-ball variety marché de Paris!

Next experiment, a home-made cloche, all credit to my other half for sticking with those carpentry lessons at school. He used the left-over polycarbonate from the construction of the greenhouse to make me two of these, and they’re doing a splendid job of keeping the maple leaves and seeds off the Asiatic greens. The allotment is both beautified and made more complicated by the presence of many mature trees, but this seems to a good way to handle the autumn leaf fall that could otherwise smother more delicate crops.

Next to the cloche, I’ve sown a little patch of green manure. Having learnt more about soil this year, and how important it is to protect it from weathering and erosion, I’m trying to make sure I don’t leave any bare soil. This is a mix of mustard and phacelia.

Fourth experiment, ok I know this looks very messy, but please be forgiving! This is the new patch of allotment I was allocated in the spring, and at that time it was just an overgrown mass of wild plants, including couch grass, horsetail, dandelions, bindweed, buttercups…you get the idea. But it is starting to take recognisable shape. I’ll be putting in more raised beds, and in the meantime, in the centre is my no dig bed. I’m just piling on whatever organic matter I can find – straw, leaves, twigs, comfrey leaves, lawn clippings from the garden – and I hope this will make an excellent, fertile growing space come spring.

Fifth experiment – here at the boundary with the neighbouring patch, where the couch grass was particularly exuberant, I laid down this weed suppressing membrane. This is maybe not in the spirit of the permaculture idea, but I just think the weeds were too vigorous here for going straight into no-dig. But to make use of the space while the lining is there, I’ve decided to try my luck with putting strawberries in. I worry that the couch grass will find its way through, but hey, this is an experiment!

Finally, for number six, my lovely, lovely greenhouse. Other half really excelled himself here, I’m very proud of him for building me such a lovely space! It’s been transformative. For winter, I’ve sown lamb’s lettuce, winter lettuce, lollo rosso and radicchio. And to be really experimental, I’ve left the aubergines and sweet pepper plants in place to see what happens. Does anyone think there’s a realistic chance they will continue produce over winter? Or is this hoping for a miracle?!

That’s all for this week, thanks to Jim at Garden Ruminations for hosting Six on Saturday, have a lovely weekend one and all.

25 thoughts on “Allotment experiments: six on Saturday: 12 Nov 2022

  1. I’ve enjoyed sharing your allotmenteering (definitely a word) adventures. You really seemed to be getting stuck in and using your noggin’ to work out problems, I like that. Some may fail, but you tried and learned along the way. And I do like a bit of green manure. I went to a garden centre once and asked if they had any in stock, the lad who worked there told me they only had the brown stuff. I thanked him and left, it still tickles me. 🙂

  2. You have made impressive progress and had wonderful success with a beautiful range of vegetables. The couch grass is a nuisance plant.

  3. Was the variety of carrots intended to give you these results? Me too, the results of the carrots are not extraordinary but it was hot this summer and there was a lack of water. The soil was too dry and too hard. That’s why my raised bed will serve me to plant vegetables like carrots which will be more successful I guess. I have no fear for your salads in the greenhouse, but on the other hand aubergines and peppers… They should not survive very long. Give us news !

    1. The carrots are the right size for this variety, Marché de Paris, but I think next year I’ll try the longer varieties! This area where I grow them has sandy soil, but not full sun, it might work. I guess it was wishful thinking with the aubergines and peppers – although the peppers are still producing well!

      1. I do know someone who is trying to overwinter her aubergines, but I have no idea if it will work, I think she’s bringing them indoors! I guess it’s probably easier just to sow new seed next year.

  4. I am always envious of people who can grow veg. Maybe I just gave up too soon, but I think I’ll stick to herbs! The peppers might be OK over the winter, I kept some chilli plants in my conservatory a couple of years ago, cut them back when the leaves died and they started to grow again in the spring and they produced fruit for a second year.

  5. I think it’s quite liberating to let go of the idea that a vegetable plot has to look manicured, though I do agree with you about weeds like couch. I can look on rampant growth of just about anything on my plot in winter as a positive, provided it isn’t seeding everywhere (bittercress, groundsel) and is not going to be difficult to get rid of in spring (nettles, buttercups, couch etc).

    1. It’s definitely a delicate balancing act. Since I started eating bittercress in salads, my attitude has totally changed and when I see one popping up somewhere I’m delighted now! Takes all sorts, I know…

  6. I am so impressed with your allotment. I have a vegetable patch at the back of my garden yet I have never used it to its full potential. I think what I have learnt is that with vegetables you have to be committed and enthusiastic. Amelia

    1. Thanks Amelia! Committed and enthusiastic, yes, that definitely helps! For me, it’s also about reducing my carbon footprint, reducing plastic waste, avoiding pesticides, and growing stuff that tastes really good!

  7. Oooooooh, I am so jealous of your produce. You have clearly worked very hard and won the battle with the wildlife. It would be good to see a full sized picture of your greenhouse, what we can see is most impressive.

  8. You have made great progress with your allotment in such a short time. I’m very impressed as I do no vegetable gardening at all. I love the feeling of abundance and variety in your first photo. Take me back to the harvest festivals of my youth.

  9. Oh, what a delight! That was fun! Thank you for taking us with you for some allotmenteering. Looks like you are doing really well in your new space. I’m all for a weed barrier to knock back some pernicious weeds when needed. Your veg all look delicious!

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