The Allotment Diaries… May

It’s time I updated you on the allotment… fast becoming an allotment saga in our house for a multitude of reasons. May has been a wash out, not least because of the weather.

You might think that rain followed by sun is a good thing for plants, I certainly did. Surely lots of rain to help the seeds germinate and then sun to help them grow constitutes perfect conditions? Apparently not and thinking on, it’s not hard to see why. Rain would have been good, had it been accompanied by warmer weather, but sadly the lower than average temperatures didn’t signal to the seeds that it was time to germinate. Seeds need the ground to warm up you see, indicating the spring/summer growing season. Next thing was the sun baking the ground hard and although the warmth came, the poor seeds still couldn’t germinate as they had no moisture.

A view over all the allotments

Why am I waffling on about the intricacies of seed germination? Well, as a result of all that the allotment is a great big flop. Some things have done well and although not flourishing like they should be come mid-June, there’s a fair bit of growth going on. I’ve got broad beans at about a foot high and flowering already, but the runner beans have all been eaten by slugs. Ditto the peas, all but a single solitary plant that seems to have done well and is growing and looking a little lonely!

A view over all the allotments

Three rows of lettuce, spinach and salad leaves have produced little other than a few lettuces which I thinned out and re-spaced today. Hopefully they will survive but a bed of broccoli and cabbage, plus a row of pak choi has been decimated by slugs into oblivion. It’s so upsetting.

Broad beans on the left and onion rows on the right.

However, there have been some successes and even surprises. The potatoes are doing well and we have rows of onions that although in need of a good weed, have thrived. Last year my carrots failed to germinate as did the parsnips and not to be put off this year I bought pre-germinated trays of both round and traditional carrots, and parsnips. Planted out just over a month ago, they’re thriving too, with little orange carrot tops just showing above the surface of the soil.

My carrots

The raspberries are laden with fruit which is fattening up nicely, so I’ve made a mental note to net them off before the birds have a field day. Most successful of all though? The thing we pay least attention to and still grows rampant… the strawberry bed. Last year I planted 12 strawberry plants and could easily have quadrupled the amount of plants this year although I haven’t divided them, I did take several to a friend’s house where they are also doing well. If you’re in the mood to divide yours, just let the shoots they send off (called runners) touch the ground and pin them down. They will grow roots and then you can cut off the runner as the new plant has its own support system, and replant it wherever you like.

The strawberry bed, heavy with fruit waiting to ripen

It’s funny, I don’t think I’ve ever had less success as a gardener than I have this year so far, but instead of giving up, I’ve planted more beans and peas in trays at home, along with a tray of beetroot and some purple sprouting broccoli to plant out when conditions are more conducive to success. We shall see. It’s never too late to try again.

So how is your garden growing?


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13 thoughts on “The Allotment Diaries… May

  1. Well my courgette plants have started to sprout, as has my tomatoes. No sign of any actual veg yet though. Some herbs I’ve had indoors are doing well (basil mostly) but my plants/flowers are all a bit droopy. I’m hoping next year is when my peonies will bloom beautifully!


  2. It has been really weird, hasn’t it? Everything in out little green house is doing well but the allotment has been slower. It’s our first year on the allotment so I’m not holding out much hope. As long as we get something, I’ll be happy.

    Oh yes, and our strawberries are doing really well as well! And they’re just in a pot!

    • Did you plant the basics Esme? Potatoes, onions, salad? This year so far has reminded me you basically cant go wrong with those ones!! And beans are so easy to grow, once you’ve got them going!


      • Yes we did. We’ve tried carrots and have had success with beetroot in the garden before, so hopefully those will come good.

  3. I don’t have an allotment or a garden (squares of concrete with wheelie bins don’t count I assume!) but we’re hoping to move to a house next year and I’d love to grow veg. So my question for all you green-fingered lot is, how much time do you spend in your allotment/garden to keep it from becoming totally overgrown?

    • Hi Linsey 🙂

      Really, it depends on the size of your patch, ours is actually a half allotment (which is an actual unit of measurement!) but is still massive and really when the weeds are growing like no tomorrow it’s hard to maintain. I’ve become an advocate of the ‘natural’ look! Like Laura below we have been away alot in May and it look terrible at present, but the weeding is therapeutic! I’d agree with her we need a day a week in the peak seasons but never have it…

      If you plan on having a veg patch in your garden though it needn’t be so arduous. And clever planting that is dense blocks out weeds so there are ways of making gardens low maintainence without going for gravel or paving. My back garden though tiny, virtually never needs weeding as the plants are crammed in and out-compete the weeds.

  4. I love these posts! I totally agree, it’s been a bad year. Most things seem to have either been eaten by slugs or the seeds have just rotted in the ground. Our potatoes seem to be doing well though, and our lettuce looks like it might do ok.

    Linsey – we moved in to our house 2 years ago and inherited a huge garden from the old man that lived here before us. We love it but it really does take a lot of work to maintain.

    In May, we had a stag do, wedding, hen do and another wedding and so didn’t get a chance to get out there and do anything with it and this weekend I did look at it and think “god that looks terrible”. Plus once you’ve left it get overgrown it’s very hard to get it back to how it was. I would say in the summer we have to devote at least a day to it every week.

  5. Thanks for the replies, kind of the answer I expected but had hoped you might say no no hardly any time 🙂
    Will still look forward to planting some tatties when I eventually have a garden!

  6. My garden needs some serious tending too! Where do all the weeds come from? My mum and dad have a great vegetable patch and H2B said to me the other day that we should make one at the back of the garden- I cant wait to start planting..

    BTW: I bought my mum this fab book with lots of vegetable recipes when she isn’t sure what to do with some of the veggies!

    Rachie xo

    PS: We also have a fruit and veg wholesaler that lives next door and they are always leaving left over boxes of veggies on our doorstep!! Not shortage of veg in our house!!

  7. We don’t have a veg garden as we are currently living in a wee flat, and will be moving into the in-law’s farm house in around a year and a half. I find it quite hard as I grew up with a lovely big garden and lots of home-grown veg, my dad is a super keen gardener. We’ve got a wee lawn at the front and back, but I just can’t face putting in lots of effort to get the garden looking nice when I know it probably won’t mature until we move out! We’re currently reseeding the front lawn though, and I hope to put in some wildlife friendly bushes. In our row of flats, there is like one bush between 8 gardens, it’s a bit of a wasteland really. Since we own the flat, we will be renting it out, so I think a few low maintenance bushes will be beneficial to wildlife and our tenants garden! I can’t wait until we are at the farmhouse and can grow our own veg. I love these posts!

  8. We’ve only been in our house since January so it’s been a bit of a rush to get our veg patch on the go! Potatoes and broad beans like you are looking good, and lettuces have exploded this week as we’ve had some sunshine as well as rain near us! But carrots are looking a bit pathetic – started them off inside from seed but they’ve hardly done anything. Fingers crossed for more success next year!

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