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Sprouting Broccoli

Sprouting Broccoli

I spent an afternoon at the plot last week. It was mild, strangely mild for the start of January, and dry. It hadn’t rained for about 5 days in a row and I couldn’t remember when that had last happened. I know, if you live outside the UK, you’re probably getting sick of me going on about rain. You’re thinking, ‘Hey, I knew these Brits were obsessed by the weather but she writes about it ALL the time’. I did think one of my New Year’s resolutions should be to stop mentioning the weather so much but then I realised how much it governs what I do and thought there wasn’t any point in setting myself up for a fail so early in the year. Even on a slightly sunny, pleasantly warm day where the weather seems pretty uneventful we’ll still find something to say about it. Anyway, I digress.

On the plot I was greeted by the pile of plant debris dumped by the compost heap. This was the remnants of dahlias and other plants from the cut flower beds. I’d got round to removing them, on what was probably the only dry day in November, and piled it all up, the intention being to come back another day and chop it up for the compost heap. I hadn’t planned that it would take me two months to get round to doing it but with an allotment inspection due I thought it was about time I tackled it. Then there was the brown and scruffy dying foliage of the Alchemilla mollis which was cut back ready for new leaves to appear in spring.

Stocks and their first flower buds

Stocks and their first flower buds

I was excited to see the first buds on my biennial stocks. It’s early but my stocks last year flowered sporadically from October to March. They coped well with the cold spell we had last year but, just in case the doom merchant newspapers that are suggesting a catastrophe is coming in the form of snow and ice are right, I’m off up there today to rig up some protection.

Excitingly, there are the first signs of flowering stems appearing on my sprouting broccoli. It’s the first year I’ve grown them. I bought them as plug plants from Delfland Organics. Five of a white variety and five purple. A couple succumbed to the slug onslaught of the summer but eight remain. I read somewhere that it was better to start sowing sprouting broccoli later than the packets suggest as they make smaller plants which suffer less in wind but it doesn’t affect the yield. My plants are much smaller than those on other plots. Brian, who is always so organised and has the neatest and probably most productive plot, has all of his broccoli plants staked. Even though mine are smaller they could have done with a little bit of support. That’s one to remember for later on this year and next season’s plants.

And finally, to the title of the post. The plot next to me is up for grabs. The couple who have had it for several years now have decided to give it up, finding it difficult to juggle it with a young family and work. I didn’t see them at all last year. It’s a shame because the allotments could do with more younger people up there. I said last year that I was looking for some extra space as my ambitions had outgrown my own plot. With a new clerk managing the site the idea is that they are going to be stricter with maintenance and several people have decided it’s too much and with only one person on the waiting list it looks like a few plots will be going spare. The temptation is hard to resist to increase my plot space. There are two problems though. The first is the state the plot has been left in.

Doesn't look that tempting, does it?

Doesn’t look that tempting, does it?

And secondly, time. There are only so many hours in the day and taking on another plot is probably only going to make me feel stressed. I’d rather do the things I’ve committed to well than spread myself to thinly and find everything goes pear-shaped. I’m not sure what will happen to the plot if nobody wants it. There’s talk it might just be turned over to potatoes by some of the other plot holders. I suggested sowing one of those pictorial meadow seed mixes once it had been cleared but it’ll more likely end up as spuds. It is tempting but I must resist, for my own sanity.