Real Men Sow

Some Allotment Thoughts on 2012

Tomorrow will be the first visit to the plot of 2012, and I’ll most be lugging manure around. The annual manure and dig day always feels like a fresh start, so I thought I’d jot down some of my aims and thoughts for the coming year.

Getting Organised
I want to be much more organised this year, so plan to have a decent look at how I do things. This will mainly be around the space I use, and how efficiently I position my crops. What with getting married and doing lots more cycling I sometimes found allotment time hard to come by in 2011. The plot often got weedy and untidy, and some plants suffered from lack of attention.

As a result, I spent time getting back on top of things when I should have been tending to delicate crops or enjoying summer harvesting.

Streamlining and Spacing Out
I’ve also set myself a non-allotment target of 5,000 miles on my bikes in 2012, meaning time is once again going to be pressed, so I’d like to streamline and make alloment jobs much easier. Initially, I considered not using one of my beds and turning it over to green manure, but now I’m contemplating better spacing of my crops.

In an attempt to be more compact, coupled with concern that I’d have enough room, I sowed very tightly last year. As is normally the case when allotmenteering, things never turn out how you expect, and naturally I ended up with loads of space.

Weeding became a real pain with everything so snugly packed, and I spent a lot of time on my hands and knees plucking weeds out. So, this year I’m going to be far more liberal with my sowing and planting space, and leave enough room for me to be able to simply stroll down a row and slice weeds up with a hoe (that’s the theory, anyway!).

Getting Better at the Troublesome Veg
Like every year, there are also some troublesome veg that I’d really like to nail. I’ve not managed a decent crop of peas since my very first allotment year, and I’ve also only ever grown one cauli that I could say I was proud of.

Parsnips are a work in progress, but could be better, and if 2012 isn’t the year I finally grow a spring onion, I think I might just give up on the blighters!

Dave from Self-Sufficientish suggested testing the PH of the allotment soil in response to my recent parsnip post. This seems a great idea, and might give me an insight into some of my plot problem children.

Blog Aims
As for Real Men Sow, I vow from this moment on to keep up with my Google Reader. I have been absolutely hopeless with this in the last three months or so, which is really naughty, especially given the amount of great people who take time out to read my witterings. Please consider my wrist firmly slapped.

I’d also like to take better photos – I’m toying with the idea of a new camera, as I currently use my phone. However, this seems quite a capable little thing, and I’m wondering if it might just be a case of taking more time over composing a picture, rather than merely pointing and shooting.
I’m sure I’ll think of loads more things to tinker with as I go along, as well as different veg to try, but that’s my main ideas at the mo. How are you feeling about the coming year?

Feeling invigorated now the shortest day has passed? I hope so – after all, they’re only 79 days until Spring!

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12 Comments

  1. HelenJanuary 1, 2012 at 7:51 pmReply

    Spring Onions – I think you need to sow when it is cool. I first load didnt germinate at all in March/April but I tried again when we had a cool June/July (cant remember the month) and I had a bumper crop. I also bought my 2nd lot of seeds from Seeds of Italy and the germinate rate was fab. I have had really goo germination rates with all the salads I have bought from them this year.

    I ate my first Cauliflower today. It would have been rejected from any shop but it tasted wonderful. I am lucky to have very good soil, clay based and virgin until last year (it was formerly pasture for horses etc so probably well manured).

    I need to get better at eating what I grow. Thats my resolution for next year

  2. SharonJanuary 1, 2012 at 9:56 pmReply

    Jono … stick with your phone unless you need a camera for other things, the photos on your blog are fine. The price of the camera will set your allotment savings back considerably! Sharon xx

  3. Jono

    JonoJanuary 2, 2012 at 9:09 amReplyAuthor

    Hi Helen – thanks for the spring onion tip, I’ll give that ago. I’ve never even managed one which is odd as they’re supposed to be one of the easiest things to grow.

    Will check out Seeds of Italy. Want to try a few different seed companies this season, aside from the normal biggies.

    Hey Shaz – We took the plunge with some Christmas money on a new camera. Wanted it for holidays etc as well. As for the savings, I’ve been told I’m not allowed to spend it on bike bits already!

  4. Mark WillisJanuary 2, 2012 at 8:58 pmReply

    Hi Jono; Thanks for your support on the Endives / Radicchio theme – looks like it must be a gender thing: the blokes like them, but the girls don’t.
    I agree with Helen’s recommendation of Seeds of Italy. One thing I particularly like about them is that they give you plenty of seeds in each packet (often literally thousands) – none of this “Contains 8 seeds” nonsense!

  5. Jono

    JonoJanuary 2, 2012 at 9:09 pmReplyAuthor

    Hi Mark – haha, no worries.

    I also like the look of the Thomas Etty seeds. The catalogue is beautiful, but seems to offer good value for money too.

  6. Steve MoulsonJanuary 2, 2012 at 9:35 pmReply

    Good luck with the bike riding hope you get the mileage in,I will leave you to get the miles in while i read your site. I want to be organised like yourself in this years growing, this is my second year so fingers crossed it all works out ok.I have had a good years growing and about 90% of the crops came through, but saying that i didn’t have many varieties of veg growing but this year I have a few more. Your picture are good enough to look and doesn’t need changing, I just do the same as you point and shoot.

    Good luck for 2012

    • Jono

      JonoJanuary 2, 2012 at 9:46 pmReplyAuthor

      Thanks Steve. That spreadsheet on your blog looks pretty organised to me!

      Like the photos on your blog – is that just a phone you use as well?

  7. AnonymousJanuary 3, 2012 at 3:49 pmReply

    Don’t give up with the spring onions – mine were the same until last year when all of a sudden they all germinated. I grew them around the carrots so in a bed that hadn’d been previously manured. They also grow fine for me in the polytunnel. Snap with the cauliflowers. I think mine suffered from neglect/too dry a spell early on but will give them another go this year. Look forward to reading how you get on. Dee

    • Jono

      JonoJanuary 3, 2012 at 4:40 pmReplyAuthor

      Hi Dee.

      I definitely neglected my caulis this year, and a lot of my plot suffered from lack of rain. It is very dry where I live, as you probably know from times gone by!

      I am determined to get some good spring onions this year. Might try them in the garden instead so I can keep a constant watch!

  8. MariaJanuary 11, 2012 at 6:07 pmReply

    PS 5,000 miles??? that sounds like a lot to a non-cyclist!

  9. Jono

    JonoJanuary 11, 2012 at 8:40 pmReplyAuthor

    Hi Maria – I’m a week or so in, and wondering if I might have overegged the pudding! Hopefully I’ll pick some more miles up come summer.

    Basically, I need to cycle to work three times a week, and then do a decent ride at the weekend…

  10. Real Men Sow » Blog Archive » To Chit or Not to ChitJanuary 23, 2012 at 9:53 pmReply

    [...] GYO is the constantly changing and evolving goals. I’ve added Grow a Proper Baking Potato to my initial thoughts and goals for 2012. I normally get a fair crop of potatoes, but often this is made up of mostly small [...]

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About Real Men Sow

meIn 2007, I took on a redundant allotment plot with my gardening-mad mum Jan. As all good mums do, she went along with it, but I don’t think she held out much hope.

However, three years on, and she now lets me do stuff without watching over my shoulder, so I must be doing something right. [ read more ]

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