My name is Alexei Charkham. I am 38 years’ old and live in north-west London with my wife Gaby and our two daughters Vita and Bea. Gaby and I both work part time as teachers; I try to spend as much of my spare time as possible on my allotment, round the corner from our house.
I have had an allotment since 2006 and now have three half plots, totalling about a third of an acre. I grow lots of fruit and veg, have several greenhouses (some freecycled ‘proper’ ones, and others which I’ve thrown together using old window frames and salvaged timber) and am constantly undertaking somewhat unnecessary, exhausting and relationship-straining projects either on the allotment or in our garden.
Alexei Charkham is a Jewish Allotment holder from North London and has been updating and writing his growing blog here since January 2010. Alexei sells his surplus veg and fruit and he can be contacted on email@example.com for more information. He likes to hear from other veg growers, so feel free to email him. Click here to subscribe to Alexei's blog - just tick the 'allotment blog' box.
Welcome back to the blog. I’ve taken a couple of months off and have been wildly busy building a porch, and have been just as wildly guilty of wilful dereliction of allotment duties. The beans are screaming to be picked, the potatoes yelling to be earthed up, the weeds looting and rioting with abandon….and yet I’m hardly there to help them. Being blessed with a family, three allotment plots and about half a dozen ongoing projects means that – to coin the exhausted phrase – there aren’t enough hours in the day.
A neighbour called Adelle (pictured) has volunteered to help with the plot, and has been picking veg, watering, weeding and the like. We then share the veg, which seems to be a happy situation all round as Gaby isn’t that overwhelmed with buckets upon buckets of veg for her to cook, in a cheerful ‘Here you go, luv!’ manner as I hoist a sack of potatoes onto the kitchen counter and suggest chips for every meal until Pesach.
I seem to be on the final-ish strait of the porch project. It feels like I dug the foundations back in the Palaeolithic era, the footings (base of the walls) in the Jurassic era, and the wall frames in the…you get the idea. After about 10 months of very part-time building, I’ve now got more time in my summer (teacher) holidays to dedicate to it. The window, door and roof are now on, and I’m hopefully going to render (plaster with cement) the outside walls this week – a hard job that leaves you with sore arms. Having built a toilet a couple of years ago, in which we freeze in winter, I now realise the importance of good insulation: the walls of the porch are insulated with between 5 and 8 inches of solid insulation, which hopefully will keep even the coldest winter temperatures at bay.
Other mini-projects: I’ve salvaged a couple of old kitchen units, and have turned one of them into a nice bookshelf by adding shelves, sanding and painting. The other one is now in the shed, and should be become a small cupboard some time between now and the second coming.
Other than weeding, and hopefully harvesting overwhelming amounts of various veg, there is not too much planting to do from now until the rest of the year. Ripen onions and garlic you intend to store by leaving them on the ground or in the greenhouse once picked – they are easily threaded onto a string and hung from a shed roof. Keep watering, weeding and picking, and make sure your courgettes and squashes, pumpkins etc have enough water so the fruit will swell and mildew (which affects dry plants) will be kept at bay. Your beans will need watering too, and spraying/misting of the leaves and flowers to help the beans set.
One of my bibles, D.G. Hessayon’s book reckons it’s past time for planting any roots, but the excellent and comprehensive Hampton Wick allotments site writes the we can still plant beetroot, carrots and turnips now. Both book and site agree that we can also sow winter-hardy onions, chicory, the cabbage family – cabbages, broccoli, kale and cauliflowers, and lettuce/salad crops.
Happy holidays, growing, sowing and other projects…see you in a month or so.