Most of us agree that it’s been a strange growing season so far. It’s either been too cold or too wet. In the last week or so we’ve been complaining that it’s too hot. Despite our weather related grumbles, July and August are the months when we realise that all the hard work has been worthwhile. It’s very satisfying to walk over the bridge empty handed and to come back again with a bag of veg we’ve grown. Beans, courgettes, raspberries and blackcurrants are all cropping well.
We’re digging up potatoes too. Our ‘Charlotte’ 2nd early potatoes have been as productive as ever this year, but there’s a problem. I didn’t have time to earth them up properly as they grew. As a result, all the potatoes that have grown close to the surface of the soil are green. What a waste! It’s not a mistake I’ve ever made before and I certainly won’t make it again.
After all the potatoes have been dug, they’ll be replaced with the young leeks that are waiting patiently in an otherwise empty bed. It should be bursting with carrots by now but four separate sowings have failed to germinate. Perversely, the carrot seeds I helped my tiny granddaughter to sow in my garden last week all germinated within days.
It’s been a joy to hunt for potatoes in the now very dry soil with her. Picking and then eating peas straight from the pod has been fun too. They’re such simple pleasures but they seem to stick in our memories. My brothers and I still remember playing on our parents’ allotment as children.
The warm weather has deterred the slugs. The badly nibbled nasturtiums are growing at last and the marigolds are adding a splash of colour to the plot. Even the runner beans have started to grow with a little more vigour. I’m keeping a close eye on them as hot, dry conditions can make their flowers drop. I haven’t needed to water them at Greencroft yet but it will be a different story for those with plots at Waterman’s where the soil is far more free draining.
Tips from the allotment
- Use the space left by potatoes to plant on young leeks.
- Prune summer raspberries when the crop is over. Cut out the old canes and leave four to five new canes per plant for next year’s crop.
- Also prune blackcurrants after the crop is over. Remove a third of the stems from as low down as possible.
- Net cabbages and purple sprouting broccoli to protect them from pigeons.
- Harvest crops regularly, especially courgettes and beans to keep them cropping.
- Dig up shallots and dry them off ready for storing.
- Keep hoeing the weeds