The seed catalogues have started to arrive, so it's probably as good a time as any to ignore the collapsing economy, ignore the bank account, and take stock of what lived and died on the allotment. So I'm afraid this is going to be a bit of a catalogue for the record because by the time spring comes round again I will have fogotten what worked and what didn't and make the same mistakes all over again (note to self: do not forget to label things properly).
Let's set the scene. It was our first season, the plot had been neglected for years and the soil was depleted so it was never going to be the most prolific year. The weather was, well, wet, apart from a few weeks in May and one or two odd weekends. It was all a bit of a gamble, really.
The tomatoes started off well - Hidalgo, Marmande and cherry toms - but succumbed to blight at the end of August which let me off the hook from making green tomato chutney. The potatoes, Charlotte and Desiree, were good, and the beans and cucumbers, weaving through John-grown bamboo wigwams, were some of the best I have ever grown. Only two red peppers and no aubergines but that's not too hard to take given that it was hardly the best weather for them.
Our yellow and green courgettes, sunburst and white patty pans were prolific and carried on for months but we only managed a couple of Buttercup squash and my beloved Queensland Blues and Crown Prince didn't make it at all. After a slow start, the beetroot flourished. But the onions were pathetic and the leeks, so promising early on, withered and died - onion fly, perhaps? No beetle on the asparagus in their nursery year, so hopefully one or two spears to look forward to next year, especially once that seaweed gets to work.
And then there were the sunflowers - a long wait, but even a few were enough.
One of the advantages of having an allotment on a farm is the supply of manure but there is a downside though. We have no compost bins or root vegetables for a very specific reason -the rats. John told me that he was dozing in a deck chair the other day when one ran between his feet, stopped to consider what might be worth pillaging and scuttled away only when shouted at.
Bring on the spiders, worms, frogs and toads. But freakin' rats? String- round- the-trousers time.