Earthing up the spuds for the first time this season was satisfying and a bit of a relief. They were planted in March just before a week of severe frosts and it took a while for the first green leaves to emerge through the soil. I anticipate three or four more earthing up sessions over the next few weeks.
About a year ago I finally admitted to myself that I was finding it difficult to manage my huge allotment and that I really needed to relinquished half. So it was split down the length leaving me with a still substantial growing space of about 4m wide by 20m long divided into eight beds. That’s plenty of ground for produce for the two of us and it’s now manageable. Several years ago I had been offered a corner plot almost twice the size of what I now garden and I’d naively imagined that I would have no difficulty in stuffing it full all year round. I planned to bottle and preserve the fruit and to make pickles and jams. There would be fresh produce daily and any surplus made into soups for the freezer. I would pass on produce to family and friends. In reality for that to happen I would need to be there at least four hours a day most days between March and October and physically it would be pretty exhausting. So I now go to the allotment with renewed vigour knowing that I can achieve plenty in an hour or two and I no longer return home needing to pump in the pain killers or climb the stairs one step at a time. So yesterday when I had an unexpected spare afternoon I managed to weed both the strawberry and asparagus beds which took ten minutes, then I stained the shed, then I emptied a compost bin on to the Autumn Bliss raspberries.
I plan to grow more produce here at home so I was delighted to be sent a copy of Growing Up the Wall: How to grow food in vertical places, on roofs and in small spaces. by Sue Fisher http://www.greenbooks.co.uk/
As a result of a first read I’ve just sown carrots in a wooden wine box and took the author’s advice to choose a small-space variety Rondo which has round roots and needs a soil depth of just 15cms. I also sowed radishes in another wine box and dried peas for pea shoot salads in a third box. Sue Fisher offers good advice on how to green a roof and how to plant ‘ladder allotments’ a cross between a raised bed and a living wall unit. It’s all together an immensely useful book to get you started whatever size outdoor space you might have.
I just love this pastel drawing of an oak leaf lettuce by Sue Deakin. There’s a great opportunity to see and to buy her work and the work of others on May 25th, 26th and 27th at Harbertonford Open Studios nr Totnes S.Devon.