May in rearview mirror

Allotment in May

May has treated us to some very cold days, some very warm, some sunshine and a lot rain.

It is weather like this that makes the full benefits of raised beds and mulching obvious. The raised beds allow excess moisture to drain away so that the roots of the vegetables never sit in water, yet the mulch keeps the soil sufficiently moist in periods of no rain. The raised beds warm up faster too.

Raised beds

After the very cold start of the month the weather changed abruptly after mid- May, so I could plant out my tomatoes. I planted out my sweet corn before we went away to Normandy at the beginning of the month which was a little risky, but sweet corn is less sensitive to cold then tomatoes and the plants are doing well despite some slug damage. To make good use of the space, I interplanted them with chard.


The garden is still largely in a state of promise: snow peas and broad beans flowering, tiny apples forming, but yesterday we picked the first strawberries.


One total fail so far have been carrots. I sowed them no less then three times and every time the seedlings are wiped out by slugs. That has never happened here before: I mean, there is always some slug damage, but it is never this bad. I guess it means that because of the warm winter and recent rain, there are too many slugs for our resident frog to eat…


The garden has provided many bouquets this month and I will share more about that later.

perennial cut flower border

Because our asparagus plants were too big to dig up when we had to move to a different plot in 2012, I started a new lot from seed this year. I soaked the seeds in water for a week before sowing but even so they take a whole month to germinate. Now I have about 10 months to figure out a place for our asparagus bed before they will have to be replanted to a permanent position. The garden is pretty full already so we might have to get another plot just for asparagus. After that it will take another year before we can start harvesting, but as years tend to pass in a blink of an eye…

asparagus seedlings

In the community garden, all crops are thriving, including carrots and parsnips.

community garden

broad beans parsnips

I do not grow any potatoes in my garden this year, preferring to use the space for other crops, but there is a long border in the community garden (in the narrow space behind the football cage) planted with “Raja” and “Ditta” potatoes. We have dressed the bed with a thick layer of home made compost and mulched with straw.

potato bedIt took a long time for the potatoes to emerge but then they really took of. The two pictures bellow were taken 10 days apart and illustrate the speed of growth.


Lettuce is a universally popular crop and each year we plant one of the square beds with 16 lettuce plants. I like to put in a mix of different varieties and plant the red and green lettuces in a checkerboard pattern. We harvest them by repeatedly picking the outer leaves and letting the plants to regrow, which spreads the harvest over many weeks. Most varieties can be harvested this way, only the classic butterhead is less suited to this harvesting method.

lettuce bed

Happy gardening to you all and if you would like to see what the garden looked like last year, look here.

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