Reflections on winter
Although nothing really goes on at the allotment during Winter, plants are hibernating and starting to prepare for their next season of growth.
In the same way, gardeners are musing the possibilities for next year. One of the things I love about the British seasons is the necessity of downing tools for a couple of months. Each year offers a second chance at things that didn't work and excitement about trying something new.
First visit of 2009
We popped to the allotment today to put the Christmas tree back and get some digging and weeding done. It was great to be back out in the fresh air. The strawberry patch was looking overcrowded by weeds, so we cleared them and the annual beds, ready for the year ahead.
This year's seeds have arrived
I have heard from many sources that newer varieties are bred for uniformity and qualities that make them suitable for cropping on a large scale (like maturing at the same time). I am not really bothered about mass production, but I really want my crops to taste good - otherwise what is the point? I thought it was worth trying older varieties that were bred for flavour.
I have bought a selection of interesting seeds from 'The Real Seed Company' and will be growing these alongside some more modern versions.
This year's selections are as follows:
'Ashworth' sweetcorn: reputed to be a very early variety - so should ripen while we are visiting the allotment every day in summer, rather than ripening once we have slackened off and the birds get to it first.
'Long Lisse de Meaux' Carrot: Red blunt tipped carrot for late season harvest, and old French variety chosen for its excellent keeping qualities in a cellar, apparently.
'Waltham' Butternut squash: An improved butternut that is mostly neck, with a rich flavour. Also stores well. Hopefully this will be a nice tasting squash - they are such good value to grow if they taste ok.
'Patisson Blanc' Patty-Pan Squash: French heirloom variety of white scallop squash with flat white fruit. Delicious used young as if a courgette.
'Cherokee Trail of Tears' Climbing French Bean: A very rare bean. The tall plants have purple flowers and beans with green or red tinged pods. One of the best beans ever from the Cherokee Indians.
'Golden Sweet' yellow-podded mange-tout peas: Incredibly rare. Tall plants with lemon yellow pods. This will be a good addition to last year's purple podded peas.
'Gardener's Delight (supersweet Irish version): small red cherry tomato with very sweet flavour. I am on a search of a tasty home-grown tomato which will ripen properly outside.
'Leaf Selection' Coriander: slow to bolt coriander. The usual problem with Coriander is the speed with which it sets flowers, changing the leaf shape. This will hopefully avoid the problem.
'Winter Marvel' Winter butterhead lettuce: A cold resistant lettuce from France. Something to fill in the gaps before spring gets going.
Hot off the press
We got a letter today telling us that we have been given a plot at the very sought after 'Warren' site, which is walking distance away. There are only ten plots there, and I have been on a waiting list for a plot there since September 2000. Of course we could never leave our beloved Stanley Road plot, but having one walking distance away might prove useful, especially if we ever move house closer to it : ).
The new one will be for growing vines and fruit cages, whereas we will keep annuals on the Stanley Road site, because the social aspect means we will probably go there more often to keep an eye on things.