Celia Parker – A Year On The Plot. 

At the March meeting of Aldersbrook Horticultural Society Celia Parker gave an excellent talk about her allotment. She began by outlining the benefits of having an allotment; to keep us healthy & fit; to be outside in the fresh air and to produce good organic food which has not travelled any distance. She took us through what she does each month, from chitting seed potatoes in February ready to plant out in April; weeding & mulching Asparagus in March, to sowing a variety of vegetable seeds in April and May followed by the joys of harvest in the Summer and Autumn months.  As well as fruits and vegetables Celia likes to grow flowers on her plot such as Allium, Bearded Iris & Tulips which she cuts to bring into the house.   Pictures of wheelbarrows full of delicious produce harvested in the Summer months were displayed.  She described to us what she does with her harvest of crops from freezing Peas and Broad Beans to making jams with soft fruits such as Strawberries and Raspberries.  Celia showed us a picture of her sun bubble in which she grows an abundance of Aubergines, Peppers and Tomatoes.   

In the Autumn months Celia grows a number of Pumpkins given to friends and family with children to celebrate Halloween. She told us all that she has a very good recipe for marrow chutney which many of us will want to use, I’m sure!  She explained that on her plot Celia and her partner Harry grow a lot of beans which are then frozen for 72 hours before stored dry to be used through the year – the freezing gets rid of any weevils. They do not dig up their potatoes but leave them in the ground all year and dig them up when they need them – this means they don’t grow shoots while they are stored. Celia uses the lasagne method of mulching by placing cardboard on the soil in the Autumn and Winter and putting manure on top of the cardboard.  So the year on the plot comes to an end in December and January when it is a good time, Celia suggested, to go through the seed catalogues and order seeds for the following growing year.  Also in this quiet time she draws her plan, which she showed us, to ensure that crops are rotated to avoid any disease or pests that may remain in the soil.  There were a number of interesting questions to Celia and many of us were inspired to start seed sowing and go back to our plots to clear the weeds and start planting as soon as the weather allows.