A bunch of fresh Spring Onions
A bunch of fresh Spring Onions

There is always a change at this time of year that is like a change of seasons, even though we are only halfway through summer.

Up to this point, the allotment has been focused on the early crops of peas and broad beans, onions, early lettuces and pak choi and the first crop of carrots. Now, the peas and broad beans have finished (though I have more peas on the way) and the ground has been cleared. In other allotments, the first and second early potatoes are all dug up and the ground cleared. So in some ways the allotments are less bushy than they were!

But now other plants are taking over. Turnips and Swedes are starting to swell, though they have a long journey yet to travel, and tomatoes, peppers and the squashes, cucumbers and melons are busy climbing their frames.

Some of these will be giving me a headache. We have had a long and welcome period of warmth and my outdoor cucumbers are producing as much as they would have indoors, so I will have a glut. Vinegar will be required, no doubt!

It is too early to see what will happen with the tomatoes, but the plants them selves are full and healthy. All mine are out side this year, so there will be no early crop.

Back at the house, the patio is looking wonderful with the begonias going bloomin’ mad. The peas and cucumbers are looking good too and make an interesting addition to the flowers. In a month or more they will be joined by chillies, which will be nice.

Apples and Pears are beginning to break the trees, so I am getting imaginative with supports. The sweetcorn plants are smaller than I was expecting, so I hope the corns are not too small!

And the trombone squash are everywhere, which is a touch of a surprise. Seems like some of them weren’t courgettes after all…

A little change from the usual verbiage; my new camera takes video too and though somewhat smaller (and less steady) than the cameras I played with in a former career, it is perfectly adequate quality – actually, it is very good.

A little bit of tarting up with Adobe Premiere Pro and writing some music especially for the occasion and I can proudly present a small, but significant tour of my little plot. Enjoy…

Harlequin Carrots
Harlequin Carrots

Having had a completely failed garlic crop, and it now looks like the second crop has got rust too, I was rather pleased to get a large and healthy first picking of carrots.

This first lot are called harlequin, which really is just a mix bag of colours from purple to white, yellow to, well, carrot coloured.

I had planted them in a raised bed that was mostly compost and no manure, which can cause them to split and generally behave badly. This has worked out well and I have 6 more rows, planted at 2 or 3 week intervals and I will also re-sow at the same spot these ones came from.

I haven’t eaten one yet, though I gave the only one that had split to the dog, who gallantly wrestled it to the ground, subdued it with a meaningful paw and got down to some happy chomping.

Now all I need to do is a large variety of carrot recipes, but quickly, because I am about to be deluged by broad beans and peas.


Fattening Peas
Fattening Peas

So, it is not the most inspiring song title ever, but today it was raining and yet, today I was also weeding; well, in bits, between the heavier downfalls!

Watering certainly has not been a major issue at the back end of this month; the allotment is not yet floating off down the hill, but the plants are beginning to shout, “Enough, already!” (Yes, I seem to have a totally Yiddishe crop!)

In fact, it is all looking fairly healthy at the moment.  I have started cropping broad beans (so, I should probably put up some recipes soon, if I can think of something new) and the peas are on the verge of being plump and ready. My normal beans are being a bit slow to get going as are a couple of other veg, but the peppers are now ready to be transplanted into their final pots as are the aubergines.

I think my first crop of garlic is going to be a failure. The plants got infected with rust, all in one go, and it looks like the resulting garlic bulbs are going to be tiny. Lets hope my second crop does not suffer the same fate. I will have to find a new location for the winter planting this year as once you have had rust the ground is contaminated for up to 5 years. I won’t be able to plant onions there either.

The peaches are reddening up so I hope they will be edible and not just fall off. The greenhouse grape vine has recovered this year, though the early signs of grapes look a little underwhelming; the outdoor vine is doing better.

My six melon plants (various types) are all looking healthy and are beginning to climb up their shelves, and the strawberries are doing well. Next year I think I am going to build a strawberry rack out of heavy duty canes and grow the strawberries in little pots on it. The system, if you get it right, produces lots of very clean strawberries since the fruit hang rather than lie on the ground.

Back at the house, the tomatoes are sturdy and growing well, and I have planted a couple of patio pots with blue peas and cucumbers. These will be joined later by 6 pepper plants which should make a nice display. I am moving the growing of lettuce, rocket and pak choi to the garden as I am losing to flea beetle at the allotment.

So, it is a a bit mixed – some good, some not so good, but it looked rather nice today, despite the rain.

Annual allotment contest
Annual allotment contest

Once a year our allotments hold a contest for best allotment, best new allotment and best retired person’s allotment – thankfully, they dropped the Best Ladies allotment a few years ago, a few decades after they should have done! I am amazed that someone has ever thought that women would be different at gardening than men – very odd.

I am not totally sure on the criteria they use for judging since at this time of year as most allotments have only recently been planted out, it is hard to tell whether the allotment will actually be productive or just dry up and shrivel. I suppose it is done on the basis that it seems a good mix and has the right sort of promise.

Any, I picked up runners up this year, which I also did a couple of years back; and that is fine considering that I really don’t do this to be competitive.

Meanwhile the plot is showing a good mix of life and death as always. I haver been growing these blue peas this year and much to my amusement they also have really nice flowers – in fact, until the actual pods appeared this weekend, I was beginning to suspect that I had done something wrong and planted out sweet peas instead.

I have now planted out my various squash, pumpkins and cucumbers. The cucumbers are a bit of a risk as I would normally grow them in the hot house.

Flea Beetle is proving a real problem and has munched my second lot of pak choi and rocket – I might grow these in the green house instead I think. It is also munching on my brassicas and swedes. I am spraying, but am not currently winning.

My climbing beans have been rather slow, but are showing signs of getting on with life now – they better do! And my melons are getting nice and tough, so hopefully they will have a good start. I have added extra shelving to one greenhouse to accommodate them – one per shelf.

Anyway, the next few weeks will be the real decider as to what sort of harvest I get this year.

Something for the bees to play with
Something for the bees to play with

You could feel a sense of urgency at the allotments today as the allotmenteers took advantage of the one warm day and rushed to weed, plant out (lots of that) tidy up and take stock before cooler air sweeps in tomorrow and more rain wanders into view.

It was a productive day. I managed to clear some corners of weeds and embarked on a touch of anticide regarding a couple of unwelcome hillocks in the beds. The garlics were weeded – they look tall and strong though they are not yet ready – and I cleared under the cabbage net. This year I have made it taller so I can get underneath more easily. I am also determined to leave a me sized hole in the planting so I can get in there and weed when the plants are bigger.

The strawberries are producing fruit, though only one or two are ripe, and the apple and pear trees are full. Well, one apple is, the other has only a handful, though it was covered with blossom. It is a tree with three different apples grafted onto it, but only one variety seems to be reliable.

The plum tree had a lot of small fruit forming, but most of them have vanished. They are not on the ground, so I assume the birds have had them.

Generally, it is beginning to look a little bushier, but I would have liked a little more activity at this point.

The green houses are doing okay, but are needing more sunlight now to get warmth to some of the more stubborn seedlings.

I really don’t know what success I am going to have this year – it is looking a little fragile and the flea beetles and snails are taking their toll. We will see.