No more lovage

The lovage I bought a couple of months back has entirely disappeared now, which is a bit sad. I think lovage hates large quantities of rain, and November has basically consisted of nothing but rain, so I suppose that’s why. It’s a shame, I was hoping to put it in a broth. Nevermind, it was probably a bit daft to plant a fairly young plant in September and then hope it survives a Northumbrian winter.

My Douce Povence peas have also not been doing so well. The ones I planted in the balcony garden seem to be thriving, but the ones on the allotment have hardly even made an appearance. Not to worry. Again, I think trying to ‘overwinter’ anything is always a bit risky. I went shopping online a couple of weeks ago:

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These are Chinese (garlic) chives, ‘Lord Leicester’ tall peas and sorrel, all from the Real Seed Catalogue. I have an extreme soft spot for rarer vegetables and herbs that you can’t really find in shops – for me, that’s one of the main joys of having an allotment. I mean, I’m planning on growing oca at some point, and I’ve never even eaten that before, and if it wasn’t for allotmenteering, I’d never have heard of it. The Lord Leicester peas, for example, are extinct, more or less, it’s just that this particular company has some that are commercially available. I think they’ll be a lot taller than me once they’re grown. I can’t wait.

There’s something a bit shrug-worthy about going to the allotment at this time of year. There’s a bit you can do, but not a huge amount. Observe:

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Now, I know that by March, those fava beans will be ready to harvest and plough back into the soil to pave the way for my huge potato patch. And I know that round that herb wheel, I’ll have a load of wildflowers, and maybe a row of lettuce to the left, why not? But currently, it’s just mud and some very spindly leeks. One of the older allotmenteers on the plots who I see round quite a bit was asking about the beans and I was telling him all about green manure and soil nutrients, but he looked a bit disgusted and said ‘You’re not into that, are you?’ It’s funny how gardeners differ quite strongly on a lot of things. I’ve been reading more about the no-dig method, for example, and I can kind of see the logic behind it while not being ready to try it myself. In the same way, when everyone was suggesting I get a Rotavator, I had a strong anti-Rotavator feeling that I didn’t quite overcome – I just wanted to dig instead. But that’s the fun of it all, you can still have your own preferences and not necessarily be doing things wrong. Unless you’re planting potatoes in November like a lunatic.

I have joined a gardening forum to try and learn stuff while I’m not busy on the allotment. They are a friendly lot. I’ve also drawn up a plan for the next few months, because while I’ve listed all the seeds I have, it wouldn’t be beyond me to twiddle my thumbs for the next few months and forget about the passage of time and wake up in May unless I write down a plan. So here it is so far:

December 2014:

Plant wormwood (in two minds about this because while it’d repel cats and perhaps stop them from leaving horrible ‘gifts’ in the form of dead voles on the allotment as they have done before, it can easily get out of control).

January 2015:

Plant lobelia (perhaps along one side of the main path).

February 2015:

Start digging in green manure

Plant parsnip and marigolds

Top up spinach in raised bed if necessary

Start chitting maincrop potatoes

March 2015:

Harvest fava beans and garlic (providing garlic has not all died as I suspect it has)

Plant carrot, spring onions, garlic chives, wildflowers, and ALL POTATOES

April 2015:

Plant other flowers (subject to space being available)

Start planting herbs and peas

Plant oca in pots (subject to having previously bought tubers)

May 2015:

Keep planting herbs

Plant out oca

Plant poppies

So as you can see, a busy start to the year. I’ve been thinking of taking myself off on holiday, but I might have to time that so that I don’t neglect the allotment too much (come to think of it, around now would probably be a good time). I’m also planning on going to a Potato Day in Durham – on which, more later. Potatoes deserve their own post.

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