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Keeping the Plot: A journal of growing and cooking Scottish produce - Early March 2019

A month-by-month celebration of great Scottish food, blogger Joe Hind takes us through his guide to growing and cooking Scottish produce.

Published: March 6, 2019
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Firstly, Happy New Year!

Yes, I know it’s March and no, I’m not a hedgehog. I mean happy new growing year.

We have made it to Spring, the point of renewal, where nature blooms all around. Buds in trees, bulbs flowering.

Yet, the risk of frost remains, as does a lingering cold in the soil which means most seeds cannot yet be sown outside.

It is instead a time for propagation, nurturing seeds into life under glass, in a polytunnel or by a windowsill. Within the next month or so those seedlings should be strong enough to be planted out with a chance of growing into something useful.

That’s if the birds, bugs, slugs, mice, wind, late frost or a nasty strain of bacteria doesn’t get them first. But let’s stay positive.

It’s Spring!

I loved our Edinburgh allotment during January and February. It was a time of calm. Weeding amounted to the odd pluck of a hardy shoot.

We were able to enjoy kale, carrots, leeks and purple sprouting broccoli which all comfortably survived a mild winter. We covered half the plot with weed membrane so that, by April, we should be able to reveal warm, fertile soil into which we can sow and plant according to the new rotation plan.

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Another benefit of the winter pause: time to plan.

My spreadsheet has been updated. I have ordered new seeds. It’s a special kind of pleasure to choose unusual varieties of vegetables that you take responsibility for.

We even saved some seeds from last year’s plants. All being well, the area where courgettes flourished last year will be a good place for potatoes, peas and beans this time around.

Where we harvested brussels sprouts, red cabbage and other brassica we shall attempt sweetcorn and courgette. Where the peas and beans struggled, we shall try carrots, celeriac and beetroot.

Where we had turnips, radishes and beetroot, we shall rotate to varieties of brassica. The mini orchard can, of course, stay where it is.

Visible buds on most of the fruit trees suggests we should be in for a treat in late summer. Other things staying put include the rhubarb, asparagus, raspberry canes, gooseberry and blackcurrant bushes, strawberries, salad and wildflower beds and the herb spiral.

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The choice to include so many perennials was a deliberate attempt to provide balance on the plot which I shall cover in more detail in a future post.

There will be a lot going on over the months ahead and I can’t wait to get started. I’m pleased that I will be journaling my highs and lows here.

I know that, as with last year, everything won’t go smoothly but at this time of year it somehow doesn’t seem to matter. As green shoots emerge, our hope also rises as we gaze across the plot and imagine the potential for the year ahead.

For now, the plot is ready.

Joe lives in Edinburgh with his wife and two daughters. He grows food on the family allotment, works for a Scottish food and farming charity and is passionate about cooking and eating good food. Contact him: joehind@gmail.com

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