Here are some photos of the allotment as it is today. It hasn’t aways been like this This blog began as a private journal that I kept for three years after I retired. Sadly – or gladly – the software I was using (Day One) and which I loved, upgraded automatically one night and suddenly the various bits of my computer setup would no longer talk to one another and, after fruitlessly complaining, and receiving a rather lofty and patronising response – “you should buy a better computer” – I dipped out and moved to WordPress. Good move!
Anyway, what that means is that I can refer back to the previous three years of the allotment and today I made what may be an interesting discovery. It started after a conversation with Madame about whether our broad beans really are early this year. I won’t go into a blow by blow commentary except to say that in spite of some very different weather over the past three seasons it seems that the earliest date of cropping hasn’t changed all that much. I wonder if the real impact of the weather has been to affect the quality and quantity of the crop. In the second year of the allotment – with more ‘normal’ weather we had a great crop. Last year the first pickings of the overwintered Aquadulce Claudia broad beans came at roughly the same time but were very poor. This year we’ve had an easier time but I’m sure we won’t beat our previous date of first picking and we’ll have a much better crop.
We allotmenteers tend to use earliness as a measure of success, but I reckon we’d do better to measure the crop. One of the big concerns about climate change is that the varieties we grow will not cope with changed climatic conditions, and maybe the symptoms won’t be failure to grow at all, but greatly reduced crops.
So we’ve had a lovely week, the water troughs have been turned on, and everything seems to be growing merrily but one experiment seems to have reached a conclusion. The carrot on the left was part of an experiment to test two types of compost, a new carrot variety, and to see if the carrot roots would penetrate a soil pan. Just to take the last test first, it’s clear that this carrot at least has fattened up in the layer of compost but hasn’t penetrated the soil pan at all. I guess the root just wasn’t strong enough – so point taken (unintentional pun) – and this isn’t a refutation of the no-dig method at all, but it doesn’t work miracles. The soil structure will still need easing and improving before ‘no-dig’ will work properly, and yes I’m well aware of the dangers of confirmation bias!
But there was a piece of extra good news and that was that we cut the first four spears of asparagus today. It’s a bed that’s only had one season but the first spears have been emerging for a couple of weeks. We’ve been agonising about whether to cut any spears this year, but today I thought “it’s right at the beginning of the season, why not take a few spears?” So I did, I cut just four and presented them to Madame at supper time. So – honest truth – the very first spear to emerge wasn’t terribly good, but ranked by age they got better and better. Oh my goodness that was a great moment. The chillies and peppers have all been moved from the propagators to the south facing windows in the kitchen.. Tomorrow we’ll sow the tomatoes and cucumbers.
One further thought. Is the light in the spring and autumn actually brighter than the light in high summer? The sun is moving away from its closest proximity, but it has a very special quality at this time of the year. For me the effect is almost emotional, I can smell and taste the change of season and it’s lovely.