allotments fruit and veg gardening grow your own

Big Parsnips etc.

We are never very good at growing parsnips, but we have been getting better in recent years. With our allotment getting flooded six times this year we were not hopeful of success with our root crops. When the seedling carrots, beetroots and parsnips were just a centimetre or so tall and very delicate they found themselves underwater. When the water drained away the little seedlings just shrugged the experience off and carried on growing. The season carried on with the crops periodically under water. Imagine our surprise when we began harvesting healthy young roots of carrot and beetroot. Once frost had sweetened the parsnips and celeriac we began harvesting them too. By Christmas they were most impressive! I included my secateurs in the pictures to give an idea of scale.

SAMSUNG SAMSUNG We haven’t used excessive amounts of fertiliser to get them to this size just simple organic gardening techniques. Lots of manure dug into the ground, deep mulches of garden compost and feeding with comfrey feed made from our own comfrey plants. Not root crops these but they did delight and surprise us with their size and flavour. Elephant Garlic is not garlic at all but more closely related to leeks. We eat them roasted when they taste of sweet, delicate garlic.



Now we definitely have something to live up to next year. Perhaps the weather will be nearer normal next year and we might even avoid the floods. Mind you of course, the crops above might have excelled because of the floods rather than in spite of them.

allotments fruit and veg gardening grow your own

Autumn Planting on the Lottie

The undergardener and I spent a busy day at the lottie yesterday making the most of a warm bright day and catching up on autumn plantings. We weren’t the only ones as there were lots of plotters beavering away on this bonus “summer’s” day. It was a day of two characters with the brightness and warmth of the sun giving the pretence of summer but the calls of the jays passing overhead on the way to our great old oak in search of acorns hinted at autumn. The warmth and gentleness of the day encouraged lottie holders to wander around the green spaces and sit with their coffee on the benches. Talk with other gardeners was all of the lack of rain and the dry state of the soil. We have had no appreciable rain since mid-July. Turning the soil over sends up dust.

We prepared the ground by digging over the soil and adding a good 2 inch deep layer of compost. The ground was desperate for some organic matter to hold the moisture that the rains of autumn will hopefully bring.

We sowed broad beans, Aquadulca Claudia of course, planted onion sets, Troy and Radar, French shallots Giselle and three types of garlic, Lautrec Wight, Solent Wight and elephant Garlic.

Last year we planted just two cloves of elephant garlic to provide enough for planting out a row this year. They proved to be a real success giving us enough for a row and a few to cook. We look forward to discovering their taste – if it is a good as their gentle scents then they will be worth the effort of growing. They are strange crops though as they are not garlic at all but more closely related to leeks. As the photo below shows the cloves are a lovely golden colour when harvested and they most definitely look like garlic!