It's time to get dirty and back out there to the allotment. Yesterday was a huge day spent digging in 26 raspberry canes and two new redcurrent bushes (seen below in Sam's patch which is now the redcurrant zone) under the watchful eyes of gangs of hungry Robins.
Every year I set out the years planting and this year is no exception. What marks a departure is 2011's cunning plan to go lowish maintenance. In the past I have always managed to stay on top of things right up to the height of the growing season which coincides with our family holiday. Habitually I can be found down the allotment until the last hour before our departure, which is inevitably delayed by disasters like black fly and blight. But despite the stirling work the kind souls who agree to look after it for me always do, with regular watering and cropping, I always come back to a shambles. By the end of August what was a neat, highly productive small, small holding turns into a set from Sleeping Beauty with bind weed being the primary produce. By the time I manage to get back on top of things, working like a farm hand on speed, that fuzzy relaxed holiday feeling is a distant memory. This year, especially given the Government's radical progamme has added hours to my working days, I need a new approach. So I'm going to go long on fruit, and semi-permenant beds like asparagus and cut out the high maintenance things like runner beans and possibly even tomatoes. With intensive mulching and some hard graft sooner rather than later, I intend to get the crops I want when I'm around to pick them, reduce the produce that needs daily watering and continue to enjoy my little slice of heaven.
The rewards continue with this week's crop of Brussels sprouts, Cavello nero (grown from the last of the seeds I bought back from Tuscany 2 years ago), beetroot and horseradish. At this time of year the horseradish is really fiery with the frost turning up the heat. I think I might make some of Hugh's beetroot brownies today and I hope its beef again because you really can't beat my home made Horseradish sauce, it makes you cry, but unlike the cuts, in a good way.
Bob the scarecrow keeps an eye on my purple sprouting, as you do