Spring has officially landed! The sun has been beaming for the past few days and it is set to stay that way into the middle of next week. Today was a warm 14 degrees and tomorrow is predicted to get up to 17, almost tropical for March. There’s already a grand stretch in the evenings, as we say here in Ireland, and the clocks go forward in the morning, giving us an extra hour of sunshine in the evenings.
Myself and Dave took advantage of the weather the past few days, spending quite a few hours on the allotment. Yesterday, we filled up the car, made a packed lunch and readied ourselves for an afternoon of digging. We dug out the onion bed and the bed for peas and beans. The soil on my plot is a clay soil so can get quite clumpy and requires quite a lot of digging to break it up. We took all of the soil out of the two beds, Dave is really good at this and had them dug out in no time. We turned the soil over for the onion bed and spent a good hour or two just raking it and taking out big rocks and stones. I used a sieve, also known as a garden riddle (I’m learning something new every day) to remove any of the big stones left over after all the digging.
After some well earned tea and sandwiches, I planted my asparagus. We dug a trench about 20cm deep and 40cm wide, I added in some compost and made a ridge down the centre, I spread the roots of my six crowns out on either side of the ridge and covered them with soil. As they grow, I will continue to add soil and the trench should be level by autumn. I covered them with some horticultural fleece for now to protect them from ground frost. Asparagus is a herbaceous, perennial plant and needs to be planted somewhere it won’t be disturbed. It likes well drained soil and full sun. It has a lovely ferny foliage in the summer months. It should not be harvested for the first two years of growth, which is why many people don’t grow it, however, if you have an allotment, you should try it. It will crop for over twenty years and it one of the nicest fresh vegetables available.
I planted my onions and shallots today. I planted some Red Baron and Stuttgarter Giant sets. Onions are a great crop, easy to manage and give a great yield for a small space. Space onions about 10 cm apart in rows about 20-30cm apart. If you plant onions closer together they will be smaller and if you plant them further apart, they will grow larger, If you want large onions, all you have to do is give them more space. I planted about 40 red and 40 white onions. I also planted 8 shallots. One shallot set will give you a yield of about 6 shallots. Dave swears by them and often uses them in cooking. I still have about a square metre left in the bed so I might plant a few leeks.There was some glorious sunshine when I was planting the onions and the birds were singing away, it was the first time on my allotment that I’ve forgotten about the digging and felt totally relaxed, it was lovely. I covered my onions with netting to protect them from birds as they will happily steal onion sets from the ground. After about three weeks, the onions will have rooted and the netting can be removed.
Next week, we’ll be starting construction on the raised beds for my brassicas and carrots. I’m hoping that by next year, I’ll have mostly raised beds in the plot. I’m going to use scaffolding planks to build them as they’re untreated and relatively cheap to buy.
The plot is slowly starting to take shape, it’s still a mess at the moment and it will be at least another few weeks before it looks well. Everything is looking very brown, I can’t wait until the summer when I have some greenery.
I read an interesting fact yesterday, last year in Ireland, gardeners in allotments and at home grew over €9 million worth of fruit and vegetables. Nine million! That’s a staggering amount of produce. That’s 9 million euro not being spent on mass produced, chemically treated food from the supermarket. It’s a very promising figure. I am finding myself more and more interested in growing my own food and buying organic produce, a little effort goes a long way and if we each only grow one successful crop this year, we are still making a difference. I’ll leave you for now with a few photos of the plot the past few days.