Welcome to Lesley 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 strawberries, sweet peas, beetroot, parsnips and potatoes.

Strawberries
I replaced my strawberry plants in March 2019, so last year I had just one or two strawberries as the plants were still getting established. Now they’re growing well, thanks to the warm weather we’ve had recently, and have lots of flowers.

Strawberry plants in flower

Strawberry plants in flower.

I’ve been watering my strawberries every other day and feeding with blood, fish and bone, so I hope I’ll have a good crop. I plan to cover the plants to protect them from frosts that may hit our area over the next few days.

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Sweet peas
Another plant that will need covering is sweet peas. I planted these out a few weeks ago and many are growing well – as are the weeds you can see in the picture!

Sweet peas

The sweet peas are growing well.

Last year I ordered lots of varieties from English Sweet Peas and sowed some in October and a few more in February this year. The varieties include ‘Erewhon’, ‘Heathcliff’, ‘Fire & Ice’ and ‘Albutt Blue’. I chose varieties that have a strong scent.

Sweet peas

Sweet peas, taken on 21 June 2017.

Three years ago I had a bumper crop of sweet peas, and had to pick them every day to stop them going to seed.

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Beetroot and parsnips
The beetroot is growing well and I’ll start thinning the plants soon. The variety is ‘Boltardy’, which is one of the best-known and popular, with deep-red globe-shaped beets.

'Boltardy' beetroot

‘Boltardy’ beetroot seedlings.

Some of the parsnip seed that I planted next to the beetroot has also germinated. Most years I have to sow seed three or four times before it germinates, but this year I’ve been lucky with my ‘White Gem’.

'White Gem' parsnip seedlings

‘White Gem’ parsnip seedlings.

I’ll be thinning these out in the next few days and trying to transplant some of the seedlings into the gaps where the seed hasn’t germinated. I’ve tried this in the past, and it’s very hit and miss, as parsnips really don’t like being disturbed. But I hate throwing seedlings away!

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Potatoes
I’ve been covering my ‘Charlotte’ and ‘Foremost’ early potatoes with grass cuttings to reduce the amount of earthing-up I have to do and to protect the tops from any frost. I’ll add some more grass cuttings to cover the tops completely in case we get a frost this week, which will blacken the foliage.

potatoes on the allotment

The two rows of first-early potatoes on the allotment.

My potatoes have been hit by frost in the past, and it doesn’t seem to affect them much as they have still produced good crops. However, I don’t really want to take the risk so I’ll make sure the foliage is covered.

 

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