Real Men Sow

Cold, Wet and Well Behind.

For the last week or so I’ve been in Maine, USA for a family wedding. I left a cold, wet England hoping to return to warm, dry conditions. A place where my seedlings were germinating and I could look forward to some harvests.

Alas, it was pissing down at Heathrow when I landed yesterday. We might get a frost tonight. I’m told the temperature was lower when I left for America than it was on Christmas Day. None of this is doing much good for my seed sowings and I don’t know about you, but things feel very behind this year.

Beets and Perp Spinach No Show
During the second week of April, I sowed beets and perpetual spinach. For me, these are two gimmes of the veg world, they just never fail – except this time. Over a month later, and no signs of germination.

Whilst weeding, I’ve noticed that the soil is still very chilly, and I can only blame this for my seed failure.

What I Harvested in May 2011
A quick look back at my Real Men Sow Veg Savings Spreadsheet from 2011 shows that this time last year, I was harvesting spring greens, outdoor sown lettuce and even strawberries. No such luck this year. The only lettuce I’ve harvested so far has been under a cloche. As for the strawbs; there are plenty of flowers all of a sudden, but I reckon a few weeks will pass before I get to munch on these succulent summer treats.

Slow Broadies and Peas
I’ve only got a few flowers on my very slow broad beans and my peas are only a foot or so high (a foot higher than they normally get though!). The hungry gap that I glumly guest posted about on Tom’s Hapless Gardener website looks like it’s going to be extra long this year.

A good catch up suggestion came from @pixie1nigel via Twitter, who suggested resowing indoors and weening straight to a cloche or cold frame to grow on. Cheers Nigel, I reckon I might be doing that…

To add insult to injury, the blasts of rain that have besieged the UK are really helping the weeds take over. They love the conditions, and keeping on top of them is nigh on impossible at the moment. Add trying to move house to a holiday and you’ve got a recipe for a weed ridden plot. Things looked so rosy a few weeks back. If it wasn’t for my mum, who has been sneaking down the plot as much as she can, I’d be returning to a weed jungle. Thanks mum, you’re the best.

One thing I’ve learned is that allotmenteering is one of those hobbies that you daren’t put down. I can see how people new to the pastime get downhearted when the mood of a plot can change so quickly.

Reasons to Be Cheerful
Fortunately, it’s also one of those hobbies where good news is never far away either.

I’ve got some good lettuce leaves that I’ve grown under a cloche, which has got me dreaming of all the things I can do with my greenhouse when I get it, and after 4 years my rhubarb is coming of age and beginning to give me proper grown up stalks.

My gooseberry plants are laden again, my potatoes haven’t rotted in the heaviest April rain fall on record and there are raspberry shoots popping up all over the place.

It hasn’t rained today either. In fact the sun even came out.

Good things come to those who wait, and all that.

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  1. StacyMay 16, 2012 at 10:46 pmReply

    Ugh yes. Cold wet and well behind. I did that last year. This year I decided to mix things up and try warm, wet, drowning in weeds and well behind. I’m not sure that I like it any better.


  2. Alan @ it's not work, it's gardening!May 18, 2012 at 3:13 amReply

    Can’t beat the optimism of a gardener! Better days of growing ahead Jono!

  3. SarahMay 18, 2012 at 12:36 pmReply

    My beetroot is also, I think, a failure – tiny little seedlings but not really getting anywhere after a month. Probably not helped by bizarre swirly jelly like fungus having pitched camp in both the rows of beetroot and my rainbow chard, which is also notably not growing… SIgh. It’s supposed to be Summer in a month.

  4. HelenMay 18, 2012 at 3:58 pmReply

    If I am honest there is part of me that is happy with the weather as I dont feel guilty for not going to the plot – that isnt good is it. I am on top of the jobs but like you waiting for things to appear or for it to be warm enough to plant out. On a plus side my gooseberries are covered in berries whereas last year (their first year) I had about 5 as the rest fell off maybe due to the wind or just the dryness. My strawberries are groaning under flowers, again last year their first year we had only a handful. So I am happy to wait and see

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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, over a decade later, 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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Saving £500 a year!

During 2011, I kept a diary of how much money I save from growing my own fruit and vegetables. After totalling all my outgoings, I saved approximately £500 over the year. I made a spreadsheet to calculate these savings - it’s nothing too complicated, as I’m no Excel guru, but hopefully someone else will find it as useful (and strangely fun) as me. For more info, visit my Money Saving Experiment page by clicking here.


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