As a child I loved being in the garden; I have a far-off memory of growing radishes, pulling up the deep-red root vegetables like serendipitous jewels from a small bare patch of ground underneath the apple tree that still stands, rather fatigued, outside the front of my house. From there an education in horticulture bloomed so a career in horticulture seemed inevitable.  Yet somehow during my years in horticulture I have managed to dodge learning anything regarding fruit and veg; rather ashamed of my ignorance I have been on the hunt for an allotment plot to call my own, henceforth forcing me to face my shortcomings.  The blog is added motivation to learn; documenting my failures and successes as I go.  Advice and suggestions will be greatly appreciated, if anyone’s reading that is, not only am I a first time allotment goer but also a first time blogger.   Finally an allotment plot is available! I am the proud, yet hesitant tenant allotmenteer of plot 5a.  Just 10 minutes from home on a privately run allotment, the learning process begins… well, it begins tomorrow after work when I make my first productive trip to the allotment.

A little late in the season I’m getting growing with plants rather than seed; I’ve acquired a batch of somewhat sickly looking vegetables desperate to get in the ground.  Hopefully the damage is superficial and the chlorotic leaves will green-up in no time. 

- The robin looks on with scepticism at my ability to revive the yellowing courgette.

Amid the mass of yellowing leaves, soggy cardboard and cracked pots lay a potential feast:

  • Aubergine ‘Scorpio’ x3
  • Chili ‘Medina’ x2
  • Courgette ‘Green Bush’ x1
  • Marrow ‘Tiger Cross’ x1
  • Tomato (Beefsteak) ‘Bericcio’ x1
  • Tomato (cherry) ‘Conchita’ x6
  • Tomato (plum) ‘Dasher’ x4
  • Tomato ‘Elegance’ x2
  • Tomato ‘Yellow Sun’ x2
  • Sweetcorn ‘Conquest’ x1
  • Sweet Pepper ‘Britney’ x1

Right, as I have a few days before I can get the plants in the ground I’ve decided to give them a belated start by freeing them of their 9cm prisons. 

- Plenty of crocks for drainage.

- The roots look healthy though a little pot-bound.

The Toms, Aubergines and Peppers are Suttons grafted vegetables which boast more vigorous, larger plants with greater resistance to pests and diseases and less susceptibility to nutritional disorders - yielding top quality fruit over a longer period.  I believe that commercial growers use grafted crops for the reasons listed above but I’m not so sure how economically viable they are from a domestic point of view.  Retailing at around £5 a plant, the crop yields need to be high for there to be any value in them. Already baring flower and the sporadic tiny green fruits, we’ll soon see if they live up to the hype.  Potted-up, a dose of Tomorite should perk them up (so they don’t embarrass me at the allotment).

In the coming week – weather permitting – I’ll be clearing my plot and setting out; evidently I need just under a meter square per courgette and I assume the same for the marrow.  I think I’ll have just enough time to sow carrots, and plenty of time for radishes and salad leaves.  I have a few books to guide me through, Allotment month by month by Alan Buckingham seems to be easy to follow for a newbie such as myself.  I have a busy week ahead and i can’t wait to get started.