Allotment Plan 2017

This shows the proposed planting plan for 2017 updated 09-01-17 Separated Winter Brassica plants from Summer and Autumn grown plants. Also will grow onions directly in the soil and take a chance with onion rot. Also all my potatoes will be grown in containers.

Click on image below to see the latest "PLANTING PLAN" update including Plant Lists and Planting Times including any of my notes
The Proposed allotment planting Plan

Crops Planted To Date: 09-01-17

This image shows the crops planted to date and is updated when crops have been planted in their final growing position

Click on image below to see the latest "PLANTED TO DATE" update including Plant Lists and Planting Times including any of my notes
Image showing crops planted to date.

Part 1: What to grow

PLANNING


Whatever size your allotment plot is, it is worth drawing up a plan each year with the aim of making the best use of available space. The plan should be flexible and treated as such. All sorts of unforeseen factors — early seasons, late seasons, bumper crops or failures — will drive a coach and horses through a rigid plan. But an unplanned, haphazard approach inevitably results in a waste of precious resources.
The main questions to consider are what to grow, where to grow it and how to plan for continuity — in other words, how to keep the pot boiling.

Part 1: WHAT TO GROW


The first step is to work out priorities.

Is the main purpose to keep the family in vegetables all year round? Or if the allotment plot is small in relation to the size of the family, is the object to grow expensive vegetables, or those — peas, lettuce and tomatoes spring to mind — that taste so much better when home-grown?

My main priority is to try and keep My wife and I in fruit and vegetables all year, this generally works out with vegetables every day of the year either fresh or frozen or a combination of each. We eat a sweet course every day made up of fruit, fresh in the summer months and frozen during the winter.


Is saving money a priority?
In this case avoid growing basic vegetables such as root crops (except possibly young carrots and new potatoes), onions, Brussels sprouts and cabbages, all of which are nearly always cheap to buy, and concentrate on salad crops, peas and beans, and maybe sweet peppers and aubergines, which tend to be expensive.

Money is not the reason for growing fruit and vegetables but the taste of growing your own compared with tasteless bought produce.


Family preferences
In drawing up a list of priorities, don't ignore family preferences. On a surprising number of allotments vegetables are wasted because it turns out that no one in the family really likes them. Whoever grows the vegetables either has to convert the family to wider tastes, or alter his or her plans.

I like all vegetables so that's O. K. my wife dislikes Beetroot and Brussels sprouts so I just grow enough of those for myself. Because there is only the two of us I need to limit the amount that I produce. We tend to eat what we can in season and freeze the excess


Climatic factors
Don't waste space on vegetables which don't do well in your area. In cold areas outdoor tomatoes and cucumbers, sweet corn and even runner beans are risky. Grow extra salads, roots or greens instead.

In North Essex we tend to have dry warm weather so things like sweetcorn, tomatoes do well outdoors although we have been hit by blight over the last couple of years. So this year I will grow most of my tomatoes in the greenhouse


Freezer
If you have a freezer, modify your plan accordingly. It may be worth growing more peas, beans or broccoli - all of which freeze well and will give greater variety during the winter months.

We have a chest freezer and a small domestic freezer that we store our excess fruit and vegetables in. these are normally: Peas, Runner Beans, Broad Beans, French Beans, Cauliflower, Parsnips. Courgettes cooked with tomatoes and onions, Cooked Tomatoes. Stewed fruits including Apples, Blackcurrants, Gooseberries, Tayberrys, Loganberries, Blackberries all frozen into individual pots. Soups made from different vegetables i.e. tomato, pumpkin, courgette etc..


Storage space
Most root vegetables can be stored outside, either in the ground or in clamps. But onions, garlic, pumpkins and other winter squashes should be stored in frost-free sheds or cellars; grow them only if you have storage space.

I use the Garage, shed, greenhouse to store any excess vegetables i.e. Potatoes, Root vegetables Pumpkins and onions

What do I grow and why?

Generally I grow salad crops to eat in the summer ( lettuce, Beetroot, Spring onions,Rocket, Radish, Beetroot, Tomatoes and Cucumbers).
Winter Brassicas( Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Broccoli, Cauliflower), Parsnips, Swede, and Leeks I grow to give me fresh vegetables in the winter months.
Peas, Beans, Courgettes, Marrow, and Squash. I eat fresh in the summer months growing enough to store and freeze over winter
Early onions grown over winter are used to cook with courgettes and tomatoes for freezing and main crop onions are used for storage.
In the greenhouse I grow a Large variety tomato for cooking and a small bush type for salads. Cucumbers for salads Chillies and Peppers for freezing.
Potatoes are grown for eating fresh and storing, including different types for New, Baking, Boiling and Chipping.

Part 2: Where to grow; Crop Rotation

Part 2: Where to grow; crop rotation


ROTATION
Traditionally the cornerstone of garden planning, and a key factor in deciding where to grow each vegetable,is the rotation system. This is the practice of grouping together closely related vegetables and growing them in a different bed, or different part of the allotment, each year, generally over a three or four-year cycle, for the following reasons:

  • Pest and disease control
    The main reason for rotation is to prevent the build-up of serious soil pests and diseases. These attack botanically related vegetables, and when they are continually grown in the same soil, they can build in large proportions. If, however, when a different unrelated crop is grown in that soil for a few years, their numbers decline, or they fail to build up in serious numbers in the first place.
  • Soil fertility
    Leguminous crops such as peas and most beans contribute to soil fertility by releasing nitrogen into the soil when they are dug in. For this reason they are often grown before brassicas, which have high nitrogen requirements. Crops also vary in the level of nutrients they require, and the depths at which they extract them. Ringing the changes allows depleted soil nutrients to be replenished naturally.
  • Weed control
    Plants with dense foliage and sprawling habit — potatoes and pumpkins are prime examples, largely prevent weed germination while they are in the ground, whereas onions and carrots form a poor canopy, and are susceptible to weed competition. There is far less of a problem where they follow potatoes or pumpkins.

Rotation groups
The following are the most important plant groups for rotation purposes:

  • Brassicas/crucifer (cabbage) family: broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, calabrese, cauliflower, kale, kohl rabi, oriental greens (for example Chinese broccoli, Chinese cabbage, choy sum, komatsuna, mustards, pak choi, Senposai), radish, salad mustard, salad rape, salad rocket, Texsel greens, turnips, swedes. In terms of rotation, brassicas that are in the ground for several months, such as cauliflower and winter cabbage, are far more significant than quick-maturing crops such as radish and salad rocket.
  • Legume (pea and bean) family: beans (including broad, French and runner), peas, leguminous green manures (including field beans, tares and clover
  • Solanaceae (potato) family: aubergines, peppers, potatoes, tomatoes.
  • Allium (onion) family:garlic, leeks, onions, shallots.
  • Umbelliferae family: carrots, celeriac, celery, parsley, parsnip. In practice, the onion family are often grouped with the legumes, while root crops, including carrots and parsnips, are grouped with the Solanaceae (potato) family.

Many vegetables, for example courgettes, sweet corn, Swiss chard, spinach and most salads, pose little problem from the rotation point of view and can be fitted in wherever convenient, often as catch crops before or after the main plantings in each section. However, if lettuces have been attacked by root aphids, avoid planting in the same place for at least a year.

Here is a simple, three-year-cycle rotation plan

Plot A
PlotB
PlotC
Year 1
Legumes
Brassicas
Potatoes
Year 2
Brassicas
Potatoes
Legumes
Year 3
Potatoes
Legumes
Brassicas


Rotation practicalities

Flexibility of the bed system
The simple traditional rotation plan above may be too inflexible for the modern allotment holder, implying as it does that one third of the allotment is given over to each major group. Dividing a allotment into six, seven or more narrow beds gives far more flexibility. It makes sense to treat legumes, brassicas and potatoes as the main groups and perhaps allocating more than one bed to them as needs dictate, but in addition allocating beds to alliums, umbelliferous crops and perhaps salads, and earmarking spare beds for 'miscellaneous' use. 1, try to leave at least a three-year gap before returning to brassicas, potatoes, legumes or alliums in any bed. I rotate my three large beds round each other and my three small beds around each other see the bed plans for this year in the Planting Plans section

Sequence
In practice, it doesn't matter very much which group follows which. Arguments can be made in favour for or against most sequences. The important factor is to ring the changes between the main rotation groups.

Time scale
The longer the rotation cycle the better: rotation over a five-or six-year cycle is highly recommended where feasible. While a three-to
four-year cycle is sound practice, in reality a cycle of six or seven years is needed to rid a garden of pests like eelworm and some soil-borne diseases.

Rotation in very small allotments
In very small allotments effective rotation is notoriously difficult, not least because the soil pests are to some extent mobile themselves. Moving a crop a few metres/yards in one direction will achieve little. Try to rotate, but at least:
Avoid following a crop with another in the same botanical group. Leave as long a time gap as possible before replanting with another of
the same group.Go in for diversity and intercropping, both of which slow down pest and disease attacks.Watch for soil problems developing, and if they do, stop growing the affected vegetables.

The case for not rotating

  • Some soil pests and diseases are mobile, so rotation in limited areas is probably ineffective
  • some serious pests and diseases survive many years in the soil, for example, potato cyst eelworm up to six, and clubroot and onion white rot possibly as long as twenty
  • grouping together vegetables in the same botanical group can result in pests and diseases spreading more rapidly, a common example of this being potato blight spreading to nearby tomatoes.

A solution, especially in small allotments, is to grow vegetables in the same area until a problem arises. For example, onions can be grown on the same bed until there are signs of onion white rot developing. Then they can be moved to another bed with healthy soil. Where clubroot is a risk, a bed can be put aside for brassicas, and kept at a higher pH with more frequent liming, to counteract its impact.

Rotation summary
Don't lose sleep over rotation! Rotate as much as you can. At the very least avoid planting vegetables from the same group in the same area in consecutive seasons. Organise your garden in small beds to increase flexibility.

GROUPING FOR CONVENIENCE
Within the limitations of rotation, it is useful to group together vegetables that:

  • mature at roughly the same time,this makes it easier to clear a patch of ground, dig it over thoroughly and possibly sow a green manure
  • will be sown or planted at roughly the same time, this enables a cleared piece of ground to be put immediately to maximum use.


Typical groupings could be:

  • spring-sown salad crops such as spring onions, early carrots, lettuce and cut-and-come-again salad seedlings
  • crops which overwinter in the ground, such as leeks, celeriac, kohl rabi, Brussels sprouts and kales
  • half-hardy summer vegetables, such as courgettes, tomatoes, sweetcorn and peppers.


Herbs
It makes sense to plant frequently used culinary herbs along the edges of beds so that they are easily accessible in bad weather.


Perennial vegetables
Perennial vegetables such as asparagus and rhubarb are best planted in beds or areas set aside for them, or at the extremities of vegetable
beds. They would not normally be included in rotation plans.