Over the weekend, decisions were made. Very important decisions, which could possibly effect the rest of this year.
You see, the husband and I have an allotment. (For my non-British readers, this is a posh term for a patch of dirt with a few carrots growing in it). Last year was our first attempt at growing our own vegetables, with a view to saving ourselves a bit of money, and enjoying the wonderful flavours of home-grown, organic veg. There will be some of you, who are already in possession of an allotment, reading this with tears in their eyes at our naivety in thinking this.
Of course, the first thing you do to an allotment is make it secure, easy to manage and ready for planting. With the chain fencing (to deter Thumper and his buddies), railway sleepers (to break the patch of mud up into bite-size pieces) and the hire of a digger for the day to turn the soil over, we were already out of pocket to the tune of £300. That is a lot of carrots (even if you buy those expensive ones with the silly French name...)
Hanging bunting around it to keep the birds off my tender seedlings, we were ready to water, feed, prune and weed, nurturing the tiny scraps of vegetation in the hope that they would turn into something quite magnificent.
Let's fast forward three months, and see what actually happened...
Now I am a great believer in the saying that if you throw enough mud at a wall, eventually some of it will stick. Thus was it with my Brussels sprouts. I had planted eight seedlings, expecting one of them to cling to life. Not once did I expect all eight to thrive, providing me with 386 sprouts in August. Now everyone knows that sprouts are only eaten on one day a year under extreme duress (Christmas Day) and unless I was planning on inviting the population of Manchester to Christmas lunch, there were going to be some left over... Also, these weren't meant to be ready for harvesting until December, but they'd obviously decided to rush themselves along a bit. By the middle of October, we were completely sprouted out, and I resorted to bagging them up, chucking them in the freezer, removing them from the freezer sometime in January when I couldn't bear to look at them anymore and throwing them in the bin...
I did have some success with my cauliflower and broccoli. I had been warned about whitefly and decided to get some fine mesh net to keep the pests off. As the man in the garden centre said to me as I handed over yet more money, 'The last think you want is whitefly on your brassicas love...'
My runner beans were the gift which kept giving right through to October. Luckily, we all like runner beans so this wasn't a problem. We did have to buy two bean slicers so that they could be prepped for freezing though....the husband was helping me do this, and claimed that they were all he could see every time he closed his eyes for about a week afterwards.
Last week, the husband and I headed down to the allotment to get it ready for this year's planting. As we turned the soil over, we discovered seven onions which I had mislaid in the summer (Thumper and his posse had done a moonlight raid, and eaten all the tops off, so I had no idea where they were, and had written them off as lost).
So now we're ready to plant, and decisions have been made as to what is going in.
One thing's for sure though, Christmas or no Christmas, my allotment will be sprout free this year...