Allotment talk in National Allotment Week

Friday, August 17, 2018

As part of National Allotment Week I thought I would talk a little about our patch. We've been tending it around six years now although time does tend to whizz by so I may be a year or two out either way. The plot and a half we occupy total 370m2 which is a large area (and I wouldn't mind expanding) with a fruit patch, flower beds, a shed, water butts and manure bays. It's missing two major pieces. The one we're working on is the sink so that we can wash the harvest before bringing it home. The second is somewhere to sit because I am desperate to just sit down for a bit sometimes and take a break. I really wanted to take out time this year to sit and take in the peace and quiet there but that will have to wait for a little while.

How has the heat and drought affected the allotment?

It's been interesting to hear from other people all around the country on this.

Here's how it's been for us. Not that bad. When you water, water properly. Not just a little splash, a proper soaking. Unfortunatley as I'm a person who plays by the rules it's meant we have been filling can from the dipping tank and watering by hand instead of using the hose so it's been hard work and has included many wet legs and aching wrists.

The vulnerably freshly planted seedlings and direct sown seeds obviously require more care but everything else has sufficed on once a week. The flowers haven't done too well and I blame myself for not taking more care when things started to look dry back in May/June as I feel sure that it would have made a difference.
That said, I've not watered any sunflowers since planting out, nor the wildflower patch and they have grown strongly and flowered prolifically so not everything withers without tlc.

It's been a great year for swede, tomatoes and cabbage. The pea season flew by as did asparagus and rhubarb. Courgettes have slowed down to almost nothing. Patty pan squashes and butternut squashes are getting there plus a few pumpkins too. The new onions are small but if they dry then storage should be ok, one the new batch almost none tried to bolt.

Beans are alright. I hate runner beans, the french beans grow too fast and the broad beans did not yield much at all. Carrots have been great and straight. there's not many beetroot as they were hidden by the swede leaves for too long.

The currants and gooseberries had a bumper year, raspberries petered out. The strawberry patch was encouraged to establish as opposed to fruiting but next year we'll be ready for them.

Still a way off the sweetcorn being ready (if ever) and at some point the artichokes will be dug up.
Potatoes have had mixed results. The earlies were lovely, the larger main crops have suffered with bad or hollow middles. Boo!

For the first time ever the fruit trees have mostly a huge crop of fruit which still needs to fill out and ripen but it's a miracle we have anything! Bring on the fruit. Update: the wasps may not be leaving us much after all.

There's stacks in for winter but most are looking good. Leeks, parsnips, more swede, brassicas...

 We've popped in a second crop of swede, beetroot and carrot. Taking no chances with the ruddy carrot fly.
One of the pumpkin is growing mutant weird fruit; they start as courgettes the inflate to balloony-marrows then turn orange like pumpkins. No idea what they are and what went wrong. I'll have to make a start on eating them.

By August the plot starts looking emptier and patches are cleared. I think May/June is the peak in terms of tidiness and order. Before the plants run riot and sprawl everywhere.

My favourite things to grow have to be flowers but in terms of edibles, well I like a little of everything. Asparagus, rhubarb and purple sprouting, tomatoes and broccoli top the list.

Life would be much quieter without our plot to tend but the produce is well worth it.

Take care,

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