There is nothing much happening down at the allotment. The recent cold months of April and May mean the soil still hasn’t warmed up (particularly as ours is heavy clay) so the seeds we planted with such optimism are sulking and refusing to show their faces. If they do manage to poke out, slugs and snails behave like punters at an eat-all-you-can salad bar in a fast food joint.
Oh, well, deep breath and start all over again. The potatoes are doing fine but, being veg newbies, we didn’t allow enough space for earthing up, so the trenches between the mounded greenery of the potatoes are deep enough to bury a body.
The only thing that’s growing fast is the grass, which is determined to reclaim the plot as a meadow, so most of our time is spent hacking it back and staring at the bare earth, willing the seeds to grow.
Consequently, I’ve taken to planting them on a sunny windowsill in the spare room, to give them a fighting chance when they do eventually venture outside, and I spend my time swatting up on veg growing. There are masses of blogs and websites out there, but here are five of my favourites.
Allotment.org.uk is a wonderfully informative site with detailed information on growing every type of vegetable, as well as a diary blog and a month by month guide that gives advice on when you should be planting and harvesting.
Then there’s a blog by an inspirational gardener whose enthusiasm is infectious: the Guardian’s Alys Fowler is fast becoming one of the superstars of veg growing, with a number of books under her belt. Definitely worth following, as is the Guardian and Observer allotment site.
Talking of enthusiasm, The Dig Issue is a blog written by three keen young veg growers. Beautifully designed – with detailed crop rotation plans – it’s a goldmine of resources and enthusiastic advice for newbie allotment owners.
Meanwhile, UK Veg Gardeners, set up by Gillian Carson, is a place to gather useful information and swap advice. Gillian also writes a blog called My Tiny Plot, which is a personal and incredibly useful account of her own efforts at growing veg. Looks great, too.