Over the course of 4 months, while all my teenage friends were deciding what their latest status update on Facebook was going to be, I was deciding which potatoes to plant in the raised bed my Dad had made on our allotment plot, 13B. I had a big dilemma; should I go for the Classic Maris Piper, a route well trodden before, or something more unusual like a Pink Fur Apple? After umming and arring, I decided on 4 varieties; Vanessa’s 1st Early’s in my first row, Charlottes 2nd Early’s in my 2nd and Maxine’s and Pink Fur Apples, main crop, taking up my last two rows. I needed to plant my potatoes ASAP, but as we had a new plot, I needed to dig the earth over and take all of the weeds out in order to plant my potatoes. So, my Mam and I (but mainly me!) dug over the earth until the soil was very fine. I then made four trenches, then lovingly lowered in my potatoes, covered them with earth and waited for the first sprout to appear.
There were many ‘is it a weed or is it a plant?!’ Questions, but after 4 weeks I concluded that my first sprout had come up! Having previously grown potatoes with my Grandad, I knew that this sign was good! But it didn’t make me any less excited’
The first shoots
Is it a weed?
From now on I played the waiting game, paying regular visits to our allotment to check on my spuds. When the plants grew bigger I had to earth them up so they didn’t come into contact with the light. The plants were tall and green and I was very excited on the day of digging my Vanessa’s up.
Coming along nicely
I have to say they were splendid, very yummy indeed. Since then, my spuds have avoided a mole, and blight, but are still coming up brilliantly. I was a bit bemused by the shapes and sizes of my Pink Fir Apple’s, but they made lovely chips!! One Sunday I dug up the last of my plants and laid my potatoes out to dry. I have to say, they were a brilliant success, and a great start to my crop harvest on Church Vale, and I felt a huge sense of pride, when we all had Sunday dinner with my spuds. I did it all by myself and can’t wait to start choosing again this Easter!
Digging up time
Are you sure this is a spud Dad?
Here are the answers to the crossword from the CVAA stand at the Pittington Village Hall Autumn Show:
I’m sitting in Malta getting very excited about getting back to Pittington and our plot.
Since we took over plot 6 in April, we’ve managed to transform the allotment from a large patch of earth to a grid of paths and so far about 20 beds – all full of veggies and weeds! It’s been hard work, and we’ve needed the help of friends and family, but it’s been absolutely wonderful to see it take shape and actually produce some food for us.
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The next challenge is to clear the back “wilderness area” and get it ready for fruit and another couple of beds for next year’s potatoes.
Fruit trees on your plot
An allotment is a great place to grow fruit trees, there is often more space than you might have in your garden, as well as the opportunity to share experiences with other plot holders. However, height is an issue and you must ensure that you do not shade neighbouring plots. To avoid this keep your fruit trees less than 6ft-7ft (under 2m). Dwarf fruit trees are the ideal choice for the allotment. Most fruit trees are grafted on rootstocks, so choose low-vigour or dwarfing rootstocks, which will keep the height down and allow you to grow more fruit in a smaller area.
Apple rootstocks – The M27 rootstock is by far the best choice for allotment apple trees M9 is a possibility, and is very productive but it can get much taller than M27. The semi-dwarf M26 and semi-vigorous MM106 are likely to be too vigorous for allotment apple trees, except when used for fan-trained trees.
Pear rootstocks – The Quince C rootstock, which is roughly equivalent to the apple M9 rootstock, is the best choice. Others are too vigorous to be suitable.
Plum rootstocks – Pixy, or the even more dwarfing VVA1 are the best choices for allotment plum trees. The semi-vigorous St. Julien A is useful if you want a large fan-trained plum.
Cherries – the only sensible choice is the Gisela 5 rootstock. This can still produce a tree of 10ft / 3m in a short space of time (young cherry trees grow quite rapidly) so fan-training is a good idea
You could also consider “step over” fruit trees. These are the very smallest of all fruit trees, at scarcely 18-24″ in height, these are basically one-tier espaliers grown on a miniature rootstock. Ideal for edging a border, or dividing the vegetable/flower garden, crops aren’t heavy by normal standards but the fruits can be quite large and these trees make a pretty and novel effect in the garden especially when in blossom. Increasingly popular, virtually all varieties of apple, pear, plum and gage can be found as stepovers.
The latest issue of the NSALG magazine “Allotment” is now available in the site cabin. You can also access an electronic copy in the members area of the NSALG website. Check the CVAA members NSALG page for the links.