Small shoots and old stores – The Voice of the Allotment

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The importance of storing your harvest shows in late winter, says Barry Cuff – with few new crops he continues to eat from his larder

Peas are planted monthly – seedlings make a delicious salad supplement.
Images: Barry Cuff

By the end of March we were harvesting the last of our 2022 crops. Musselburgh leeks, mostly for soup, and Palace parsnips for roasts and chips. The few brassicas left after the winter frosts are the last of the Brendan sprouts and two plants of Cardinal purple sprouting broccoli. The broccoli was netted against pigeons and gave some nice spears. Hopefully these two plants should crop until the middle of April.
Three self-sown wintercress (Barbara Sp, a cut-and-come-again plant) are providing fresh growth for our salads. To supplement them, we grow an agricultural pea in the greenhouse – the young seedlings are delicious in salads. We sow a tray each month as they can only be cut once, and we are lucky enough to obtain these from a local farm.
At this time of year we mostly rely on vegetables harvested the previous summer and autumn. Stored in the cool garage we have Golden Bear onions, a good supply of potatoes with four varieties to choose from – Rooster, Picasso, Sagitta and Charlotte. Rooster and Sagitta roast well, Charlotte is perfect for salads and Picasso is a good all-rounder.
In the freezer we still have packs of French beans, broad beans, peas and sweetcorn.
We are now down to our last two winter squashes – one each of a Crown Prince and a Honeyboat.
In the kitchen cupboard are jars of pickled beetroot, green tomato chutney and runner bean relish.

The new season’s crop has begun well in the greenhouse

Back to work
Work has been slow on the plot due to the wet conditions, with more than four inches of rain. The soil is also quite cold. A good indicator of soil temperature is the emergence of weed seedlings; there are very few to see at the moment!
We did manage to plant a row of first early potatoes (Maris Bard) into quite wet soil on the 27th. As this was the first row, we were able to plant from the path without standing on the plot.
In the greenhouse the first of this year’s vegetables are doing well, however (all our vegetables are raised from seed). Our new strawberry bed, planted in February is showing some growth from all three varieties, Marshmello, Malwina and Honeoye. Hopefully April will bring some warm weather at last, with no night frosts.

sponsored by Thorngrove Garden Centre

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