Tales from the Plot

It’s March and it’s like all of a sudden the slate has been wiped clean. Last year’s failures are soon forgotten as the daffodils are flowering, signalling the new year’s growth has begun.
Broad beans are now in, I have purple sprouting broc that has overwintered which will be one of the first things to harvest this year – it’s one of our favourite vegetables. Providing I can keep the pigeons off it all should be well. I also have a dozen overwintering cauliflowers springing back to life after seeming quite dormant over the winter.
The next thing to sow will be peas, for me in the past peas have been problematic however I’ve now sussed a reliable way of germinating them and keeping the mice at bay.
I made two drills about eight inches apart across the plot and sprinkled the seeds with abandon then covered the two drills with clingfilm piling soil down each side to keep it in place. 
This not only keeps the mice off it also acts like a mini greenhouse, normally within two weeks or so the peashoots are pushing at the clingfilm which can then be lifted – the peas at this point are no longer interesting to the mice, however the flea beetle takes over and starts chewing the leaves, at this time this blighter also attacks the broad beans so regular spraying of water with a squirt of washing up liquid along with a tablespoon of rape seed oil normally keeps the little black shiny horrid things at bay.
My honest opinion is that peas aren’t really viable, they’re a real ball ache to grow, I find them tedious to pod enough for a meal however walking by them picking and eating them straight from the pod is a joy and makes it possibly worth the effort. 
Lettuce, brassica plants and beetroot amongst other seeds will be sewn this month in trays in my greenhouse at home.
I usually start some early carrots around this time and I grow them in large tubs about two and a half feet high to try and stop the carrot fly getting at them.
Many so-called gardening experts will tell you that the carrot fly cannot fly above 18 inches, I promise you this is not the case on my plot they must turn up with a ladder because they managed to get at my carrots in these tubs last year so this year I will also cover them with mesh and keep my fingers crossed ……we will see.
It’s taken me many years to realise nursing vegetables to life is a small part of having an allotment – it’s the constant battle against weeds that takes the majority of your time.
Doing an impression of the terminator is also required as it seems no matter what variety of fruit or vegetable you try grow there’s a bug that wants to either make its home within it or eat it.
Nevertheless if the weather is kind and all goes well the rewards can be fantastic and hopefully tasty.
Richard Thorpe 15b Syston Allotments