Upton’s allotment blog, where she will look at life on her Berkshire allotment, from the veg she is growing to how people are living with the threat of coronavirus. Here she looks at planting Brussels sprouts on the allotment.

Brussels sprouts
The Brussels sprouts are in the ground! The young plants were getting a bit big for their trays, so it was a case of either potting them up into bigger containers or planting them outside. I decided to plant them out, even though it’s a bit early.

allotment 'Bedford' Brussels sprouts

‘Bedford’ Brussels sprouts before ‘puddling in’.

I firmed the ground before I planted them (as I had only recently dug it) and scattered some blood, fish and bone in a line that I had marked out for planting.

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I dug individual holes, around 50cm (1?ft) apart for the nine ‘Bedford’ and nine ‘Attwood’ Brussels sprouts in two rows, with around 60cm (2ft) between the rows.

If I’d had more space I would have given them an extra 6in (15cm) between plants and rows, but I tend to grow too much and have trouble fitting it all in. I can’t bear to throw any germinated seeds away – so I end up with lots of plants (many of which I give away).

I then ‘puddled-in’ the plants by filling up the planting hole three times and letting it drain. This will – I hope – encourage a good set of roots that grow strongly in search of water, so I can reduce the amount of watering. It should also make the plants more stable as the roots will be stronger.

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Our allotment banned the use of hosepipes about five years ago, so watering an allotment that’s about the size of a tennis court with watering cans is a back-breaking task. I was therefore so grateful that it rained a couple of days ago, so I didn’t have to do as much watering.

'Bedford' Brussels sprouts, allotment

Two of the 18 ‘Bedford’ Brussels sprouts planted recently.

The rain also helped loosen up the top of the soil, as it had formed a ‘cap’ on the top that was hard to dig. After ‘puddling-in’ I filled in the holes and firmed the ground around each plant. I then fixed some hoops, made from blue plastic water pipe cut to the appropriate length, over the plants and covered it with Enviromesh. This will provide a little protection should the weather turn colder – and it will keep the pigeons away.

When I first started growing veg on my allotment I was fairly naïve and didn’t bother covering anything. The result was Brussels sprouts and cabbages stripped of their leaves. I soon learnt that lesson.

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Spinach
The spinach, which I sowed last month, is growing well. I like to sow spinach early as there’s less chance of it going to seed before the warmer weather sets in.

'Cello' spinach on allotment

The ‘Cello’ spinach is starting to emerge.

This year I sowed three half rows, with a week between sowings, of ‘Emilia’ and ‘Cello’. The ‘Emilia’ seeds were left over from last year and haven’t grown very well, but the ‘Cello’ is coming through well. I love young spinach leaves and always look forward to the first picking every year.

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Shallots, garlic and onions

'Red Sun' shallots on allotment

‘Red Sun’ shallots starting to sprout.

The ‘Red Sun’ shallots have really started to sprout after the recent rain, and the garlic is growing well. The onions (some sown in autumn last year and some a few weeks ago) are obviously at different stages of growth, but are also sprouting.

Garlic and onions on the allotment

Garlic and onions, at various stages, on the allotment.

 

We are here for you

Although many people are coping well with self-isolation, others are really struggling and feeling completely forgotten and alone.

Here at AG we are doing our best to keep connected to our readers though the magazine, this website and also through social media.

Our gardening ‘agony uncle’ John Negus is also still working hard. Send him your problems and questions, with pictures if you can, and he will get back to you with an answer withing 24 hours, as he has been doing for decades. Contact him using the AG email address at: amateurgardening@ti-media.com

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