Sunday, 24 February 2013

Sunday On The Allotment - 24 Feb - Potato Preparation

Allotment With A Sea View - St Ives Cornwall
At last - a week without rain ! I took advantage of the good weather and headed out to my allotment for the first visit of the year.

This may sound a bit neglectful - but the rain has hardly stopped for the last few weeks. With the ground saturated there was little that I could usefully do out there. Plus - I spent a lot of time in the Autumn preparing my plot for the Spring - and this is now paying off.

As I conducted my customary inspection of the plot things were looking fairly good ......

Autumn planted onions, shallots, garlic and leeks are doing well under their net cloches. Smallish plants - but ready to grow away strongly when the weather warms up. More news on those soon.

Autumn Sown Broad Beans
I'm particularly pleased with my broad beans - they are looking sturdy - and some even have flowers already.

Sown back in October so that they could get well established.

If all goes well they should provide the first food crop of the Spring in a few weeks time.

St Ives Allotment - Potato Beds
On to the main business of the day - getting my potato beds ready for planting. These were manured and sown with mustard green manure back in the Autumn.

 I didn't do any digging - just chucked the manure onto be beds and broadcast the mustard seed. Over the last few months the worms and weather have done all the hard work for me - drawing the manure down into the soil.

St Ives Allotment - Potato Beds
All that remained to do was to hoe over the beds to remove the remaining mustard plants.

Plus a few weeds - not many as the mustard has suppressed most of them.

A fairly easy job as the Winter weather has caused the mustard to die back.

St Ives Allotment - Potato Beds
I was left - after about an hours work - with three beds in really good shape and ready for planting the spuds.

I took delivery of my seed potatoes - Charlotte and Wilja - in early January.

They are chitting in the garden shed. and I'm tempted to get some planted this week - as March and Spring are approaching.

But (for once) I'm going to be a bit patient and hold back for at least a couple of weeks.

Despite the dry sunny spell we're having the ground is still too cold and wet for planting. If we continue to get reasonable weather in West Cornwall I'll get them in the ground in the second or third week of March.

St Ives Allotment - Strawberry Bed
To show the benefits of ground preparation - take a look at my neighbouring strawberry bed. I dug this out in a hurry after being given some plants last year.

I didn't add any compost or manure - just cut it out of the turf and plonked the strawberry plants in.

Dried up and cracked after a few dry days - lesson learned.

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