May 2018: News From The Allotment
The hungry gap
Early spring as many allotment holders will know is referred to as the ‘Hungry Gap’, when more is going into the plot than coming out. The crops that saw us through last winter have all been harvested, apart from a few leeks that still remain as this report is being written, whilst other items planted late last year are still maturing. Our over-wintering broad bean plants which are generally very hardy took a setback with the two cold spells we endured in March. These had a deep layer of snow around them for several days and at one point it was feared they would be a total failure, however, they have revived and although not as good as some I have compared with, are starting to produce flower.
But all is not lost, whilst we are waiting for other crops to develop we’ve had several pickings of purple sprouting and our potatoes stored in the shed since last August have survived to keep the family going. One favourite and almost a delicacy we are fortunate to have had recently is forced rhubarb, this is achieved by covering the plant for some weeks from the latter end of winter with one of the ‘dalek’ type compost bins so that it is in total darkness. This produces really tender and sweet stems for several weeks until the dalek bin is removed to allow the plant to recover. Next year we’ll move the temporary cover to another plant so this forcing process is shared.
As our photo shows, space for plant production in our greenhouse has been at a premium in recent weeks with beetroot, tomatoes, chard and courgettes to name but a few. Regular readers may remember our recent report that Ern, one of our plot holders has created a special compost bed for growing giant pumpkins for our pumpkin show in October though we are inviting as many others as possible to compete against him, could you see him off perhaps? Very soon our allotment shop in Nicholas Lane will have two varieties of pumpkin plants on sale that can be planted out from the end of the month. Dills Atlantic Giant and Expert are the ones we’ll have available, the fruits of Expert are smaller, about football size but they make ideal decorations for Hallowe’en and of course not bad for eating either or making winter soups.
Sowing seeds is great fun and watching green shoots appear that develop into crops that we can pick and eat is extremely satisfying but sometimes those seeds get left in the packet for a number of reasons until it becomes just too late, or maybe a whole packet of seeds is just too many to plant. To help fill this void our allotment shop in Nicholas Lane will have several varieties of plants on sale every Saturday and Sunday morning over the coming weeks. Our stock will be constantly changing and if you need to know what’s coming up in the days ahead the notice board on our shop gates will keep you informed. For those of us that are social media users you can get instant updates of our stock by ‘Liking’ our Facebook page, you’ll find us by tapping in Bristol East Allotments Association, we’ll look forward to becoming Friends with you.
Finally this month, please can we encourage everyone to plant a few flowers this summer, even if you only have room for a window box or pot outside with a few Fuchsia’s or Geraniums. Not only will this look attractive but it will help the Bee population enormously. Worldwide, bee colonies have suffered great losses over recent years for many reasons, some of which may be attributed to mankind. In addition to this, bee-keepers on our allotments have reported further declines in their colonies due to the coldest months of the winter. So please plant some flowers, as the saying goes, every little helps. Incidentally, if you’re partial to a drop of honey our bee-keepers supply some of theirs to our allotment shop. Apart from being locally produced it’s about as natural as anything else our plots can provide.
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or call 0117-932-5852.