Sunday, 6 March 2011

Rhubarb, rhubarb

There's plenty to do down at the allotment.
The warmer weather has encouraged the slugs, the moorhens in the stream at the back of my site were calling to each other under the watchful gaze of the fox, and there are even greenfly on new shoots so you know the growing season has started. Having said that, the salad seeds I put in today do seem little optimistic, one frost and its curtains. Gardeners are naturally tight, and being no exception I always start the year using up last year's seed.  For that reason it is hard to tell if its unstable weather or past-its-sell-by-date products that sometimes cause a slow start, but either way I can't bring myself to order new until the old has had a go.

Alongside the salad I put in 2 rows of parsnip and a whole packet of broad beans in a bed at the front. I don't usually go for a spring sowing of broad beans preferring autumns' Aquadulce. But the snow flattened my perfect rows of young plants and what weren't put off by the extremely cold weather have been eaten by the slugs that should have died in the cold. So I am going to risk black fly with a Spring sowing, which will mean spraying later, as even the ladybirds can't eat blackfly fast enough, but anything for homegrown broad beans. As a child I hated broad beans, I can't imagine that now, thankfully my kids love them raw or cooked, the sweeties held in their velvety pods are a real treat for all of us. As I was planting, one of my fellow allotmenters asked me why I was marching about on them? I had seen this on last week's BBC Countryfile, their broad bean expert told us to put them in as deep as possible and then stamp them in. I'll keep you posted.

I staked my late autumn sowing of curly kale, removing weak leaves and slugs, strimmed the last of the dead wood from my herb patch so that the new growth comes in tidily, and took a look at my forced rhubarb. Being a girl whose family come from Yorkshire, I feel it is almost a duty to force my rhubarb (grow it in the dark). This technique produces wonderfully sweet, pink almost unearthly stalks, but can make the plant weak if you leave it for two long. As you can see its coming along although rather slowly, which again will be due to the cold weather. So back into the dark it goes and no rhubarb today, only beetroot and cabbage, but fingers crossed for next week.


  1. What superb rhubarb. I'll have tp post an interesting exotic Oz plant on mine!

  2. Thank you. We had a very hard frost last night so I can say goodbye to the seeds I planted on Saturday no doubt. I am looking forward to some shots of Oz flora. PS I left a message on your blog today agreeing with your call for Government to avoid contradictory messages around Big Society. In leaving my comment the anti-spam security message I was asked to type in was SunKyle, how funny is that?