It’s a new year on the allotment | Voice of the Allotment

Barry Cuff shares what’s happening on the allotment this month – what he’s cropping and what he’s planted – plus a few of his interesting findshe’s cropping and what he’s planted – plus a few of his interesting finds.

With few crops left in the ground to harvest and the start of planting/sowing for the coming season, March is the beginning of the new allotment year. We are picking plentiful spears of both early and late purple sprouting broccoli (Rudolph and Claret). Claret started to produce earlier than normal, brought on by the days of glorious sunshine which started on the 17th.
We cut our first Medallion cauliflower mid-month (top picture); not as large as the winter cropping Cendis which we grow, but still of a good size. We grow this variety because it always crops earlier than other spring varieties, and we need to clear the ground for the next crop which will be potatoes. We have a six year rotation of all our crops, except potatoes which are three years.
Throughout the month we also harvested parsnips and leeks. With a good supply of both we were able
to give some to other allotmenteers.
At home we cut our second lot of chicons on the 25th, hopefully we will get a third cut in about
three weeks time.

By the time you read this we will have planted seven lines of potatoes – Foremost, Charlotte, Elfe,
International Kidney, McCain Royal and Rooster. Further lines of Rooster and Picasso will be planted
in April.
By the 25th the soil temperature was warm enough to sow part lines of carrot and beetroot.
In the greenhouse we have plug trays of onions, cabbages and lettuce, and these will be ready to
plant out in April. During the sunny days we have enjoyed seeing Commas, Small Tortoiseshells, Brimstones and Orange Tips flying over the plots.
Despite two days with heavy rainfall (over an inch on the 11th with a further 0.8 inches on the 16th) our soil dug well after about six days. We only dig about one third of our total plot area each year to fit in with the rotation. I love digging, and it never seems like hard work with a good long handled spade.

During the last 34 years on our plot at Sturminster I have made some interesting finds while turning over the soil:
• An Elizabeth 1st silver sixpence.
• 1790 George third gaming token.
• Prince of Wales half sovereign (Date ?)
• 17th century wine bottle seal, showing what I think is a mermaid
• A yellow submarine – A baking powder ‘Atomic Sub’ from a 1957 packet of Kellogs Cornflakes!

by Barry Cuff

Sponsored by – Thorngrove Garden Centre

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