Tuesday, 3 January 2017

2016 - The View from the Plot

So I think it can safely be said 2016 was an interesting year on the plot. Weather-wise it took a long time to get going with several of my 'early' sowings of carrots and beetroot either not germinating, or getting eaten by the dreaded slug patrol. Yep, thanks to last winter being a mild one, there were plenty of the pesky things around all looking for a tasty morsel to munch on, however small!

Saying that though, things did improve. There wasn't a late frost like 2015 and the summer was quite long and warm in the end.

As my son had finished working on our new half plot as part of his DofE, I've been slowly digging it over. It has been a slow job as I try and keep on top of my half of the plot at the same time but I think I'm gradually getting there. This half of the plot will be mainly for fruit, with a few veg which need a bit of space like squash.

The new half plot - early 2016

I'll remember 2016 as the year of the trials. I was lucky enough to take part in a seed trial of heritage veg from Rob Smith of the Big Allotment Challenge and also got to try some new varieties of sweet potatoes as well as growing oca and yacon courtesy of Pat Fitzgerald of Fitzgerald Nurseries in Ireland.



I think my favourite seed from Rob's trial was what was called Chill B, which turned out to be a fish pepper chilli. I loved the variegated leaves on this one so I'll definitely be growing that again.

Fish Pepper Chilli aka Chilli B
I've set up a new blog for my sweet potato growing adventures. You can read more about it here. I'm up to 7 different varieties now! As for the oca and yacon. My yacon were a disaster but I'm hoping I've saved the tubers to try again this year. Likewise, it wasn't a good year for oca, so I might have another go at growing those this year too as they are quite low maintenance.

Successes and failures this year? The sweet potatoes were much better this year and there were gluts of raspberries and runner beans as usual, despite losing some of the plants early on. We also got to harvest out first asparagus spears this year! Failure again was my sweetcorn; that's two years in a row now so not sure what is going wrong. I think I need to help them a bit more soil quality-wise adding blood, fish and bone etc. Fingers crossed for a better harvest this year!

The plot in early summer

Preserving successes included an excellent strawberry jam this year and a raspberry and vanilla syrup that is to die for when added to a glass of cava! It's my new favourite tipple.

The other main success on the plot this year was the scoring of some paving slabs for free and a nearly new shed, which was moved across five plots with the help of some willing volunteers on the site. Allotment folk are lovely!

The new shed in position

Both half plots - December 2016

I think this year I need to try and do a monthly update on the plot as it's not easy to sum it all up in one post. Well that's my allotment New Year's resolution sorted!


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