Real Men Sow

My Favourite Seven Allotment Signs of Spring

Since yesterday was officially the start of spring, it got me thinking of all the thrilling changes going on around me at this time of the year. There are so many to choose from, but here are my favourite seven allotment signs of spring:

Rhubarb
I love rhubarb. I think it is possibly my favourite thing I grow on the allotment. Not just because of the deliciously sharp taste, but because it arrives just when I’m absolutely gagging for fresh, homegrown fruit.

Another great quality of the ‘barb is the colour it brings. At the moment, everything is pretty uninteresting on my plot, but you can spot the deep pink stalks and shiny green leaves a mile off – really heartening while everything else is dull or turning a shade of brown.

The plot is open until 6
It is a momentous day when the handwritten ‘5pm’ scrawl changes to ‘6pm’ on the allotment opening times sign. Official confirmation that the days are getting longer has arrived.

I’m not sure why our plots close at dusk, but its brilliant when the gates stay open longer, as I can start popping down after work after months of not being able to. A little tidying here, some weeding there, and of course, harvesting for dinner!

Overwintering stuff suddenly looks healthy again
I find it amazing what a little break of sunshine can do. My garlic and onions were having a right tough time of it over Christmas and into February. They were all slimy and droopy, I really felt for them. All of a sudden, the weather perks up a touch, and they’re firing on all cylinders again.

The same can be said of my spring greens, spinach, globe artichokes and even some radiccio (top pic) that somehow made it through the winter and now looks like a mid summer sowing. Tastes kind of bitter, but hey, hide it in a fat sarnie and no one would ever know…

Brussells are dieing off
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not normally in the business of celebrating the death of anything, but it does have to happen, and normally my Brussels going by are good marker that the spring veg is about to start.

Next to my sprouts, my PSB is now starting to produce after weeks of me begging it to do so, and my spring greens have decided amongst themselves that the time as come to stretch out of their slumber.

Saying goodbye to finishing veg always leaves me tinged with sadness. I like to have a think back at the meals I’ve made with each one before I yank them out the ground to compost down, but it is also a time for looking forward. For every dieing sprout plant, there’s a thriving PSB one.

Greenhouses stuffed full of seedlings
This time of year, I often have a serious dose of greenhouse envy. The greenhouses at the plot are absolutely jammed full with early undercover sowings. More people start to show up at the plots on a Saturday morning, and they’re a hive of activity again.

I was reading Janet Bruten’s Plantaliscious blog recently, and her pictures of potted seedlings in every corner she could find really got me inspired. There are loads of greenhouses fit to burst like this down the allotments, and I can’t help but dream of the bounty to come.

New growth and buds on the fruit bushes
I’ve got gooseberry, blackcurrant and redcurrant bushes on my allotment, and over the last couple of weeks the buds have gone nuts. I’m over the moon with this, as I’ve been naughty this year and not pruned them at all.

I’ve also got buds on my new blueberry bushes. They’re three year old plants, so here’s hoping for a few fruits this summer.

The raspberries are the most exciting though. They’re shooting up from everywhere, which is a real result as I thought a virus had killed half of them last year.

Freshly dug over and raked beds
There is nothing neater or more satisfying than a freshly dug and raked bed, and springtime delivers loads of them. Watching the different way plotholders sort their soil out each year is compelling and spring wouldn’t be the same without the mickey taking I get from the old boys over my tiller.

I also enjoy the digging racing with my mum: 65 this May and she can still turn a bed over faster than me.

Happy spring everyone.

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7 Comments

  1. RonniMarch 21, 2011 at 7:09 pmReply

    Oooooh! Isn’t Spring exciting. It’s all so new, fresh and green and lovely.

  2. Alan @ it's not work it's gardeningMarch 21, 2011 at 8:04 pmReply

    Any chance you’ll never post about rhubarb again? I can’t seem to grow it here and *really* wish I could. It doesn’t help that you keep going on about how great it is. ;-)

    PSB is “purple sprouting broccoli”? Another uncommon one over here that I’ll have to try out.

    • Jono

      JonoMarch 23, 2011 at 1:38 pmReplyAuthor

      Hi all – thanks for your nice comments. :)

      Alan – PSB is indeed puple sprouting broccolli. Its really tasty, and best of all comes through at a time when there isn’t much else coming off the veg plot.

      You can get a very early variety, which flowers after Christmas over here.

  3. Tracy BoseMarch 22, 2011 at 11:43 amReply

    What a lovely post. Already felt cheery from a morning outside and now this from behind the PC. Hurray for spring :)

  4. Sara WardMarch 22, 2011 at 1:53 pmReply

    I love this blog…
    So encouraging to hear how it’s going, a great write up!

    Sara

  5. PaulMarch 23, 2011 at 1:36 pmReply

    Have to agree with all that, it all suddenly seems to have kicked off in the last week or so doesn’t it. All my seeds seem to have suddenly come to life, the evenings are light enoguh to do something after work for an hour and there’s a sense of ‘life’ in the air.
    Of course the next thing to awaken will be the weeds…. ;)

  6. Janet/PlantalisciousMarch 27, 2011 at 2:45 pmReply

    Thanks for the link – I love to think I can spread my sowing madness around a little ;-) My Brussels have just started showing signs of germination, so hopefully this time next year (or thereabouts) I will be celebrating their death – having eaten their tops first of course… I can’t wait to harvest my first Rhubarb, it will be ages before there is anything else to pick from the plot, but at least I have finally sown some stuff up there and planted the first broad beans out. Let the growing season begin – bring it on!

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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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