Saturday, 19 March 2011

Horray for spring

On Friday afternoon 200 children left school with a Red Nose biscuit they had made and I left with aching feet but a feeling of satisfaction. Then several hours later I sighed, felt my shoulders drop back to their normal position and realised it was the weekend!

And what a glorious weekend it turned out to be. The frost was just thawing as I pegged my washing out in the garden early on Saturday morning. And by the afternoon it was very nearly... er... warm. Time for another family outing to the allotment. Whilst Steve wrestled with the temperamental Mantis, my first job was to plant the onion sets.

I have tried planting onion sets at various times in the year with varying success. The worst time from the onions' point of view seems to be in the autumn as many of them succumb to the winter weather. Those that do survive tend to only reach a small size and the whole crop is ready about the same time as spring sown sets so no advantage there either. The worst time for planting from a human point of view is February when everything is still cold. I used to dread the onion planting as by the end of it my fingers & feet would be numb. Heat-treated onion sets need to be planted later - usually April, which is nice time to plant onions. Only thing is, heat-treated onions are more expensive to buy and don't seem to be significantly better than ordinary ones. So now I buy ordinary, spring planting onions and wait until March to sow them.

Having planted 100 brown Sturon, 100 red onion sets and 40 shallots, I turned my attention to the girls' plot which needed digging over. In the background, the Mantis was reluctantly being coaxed back into life. By the time I had forked over the girls' plot the Mantis was up and running so Steve gave the bed a going over with it. Then I marked it out with string to separate it into five main sections - two sections for potatoes, one for shared sweetcorn and one section each for their main vegetable growing area.

By this point the girls were getting bored with their quest to dig down to bedrock so I suggested they got their potatoes planted instead. My youngest is growing Mayan Gold again this year. She started growing all yellow vegetables last year and enjoyed it so much she's doing it again this year. Despite Mayan Gold being chosen mainly on the basis of its yellow colour, it turned out to be a very tasty potato that made lovely crispy chips. My eldest this year will be trying out Mayan Twillight - a yellow potato with big pink patches. It looks very pretty and I'll be interested to see how it cooks.

With the girls' potatoes planted they were ready to go home so we left Steve planting 3kg of Charlottes. Back home the girls were hungry & thirsty so I put some apple & cinnamon hot cross buns under the grill and made it extra tasty by spreading plum & cinnamon jam on top. A lovely springtime snack to end a lovely spring day.

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