This week's harvest had been sparser than recent weeks partly as we haven't been to the plot much. We have been busy with non-gardening related activities and also were away for a couple of days.
(Early warning of some bird photos for Wednesday. We spent one day at a falconry centre where Martyn and I took about 1600 photos and video between us. I promise not to post them all. Back to harvesting).
As you can see the beans are still producing and we are still harvesting some fruit.
I don't always wait for the blueberries to be fully ripe before picking. As we don't visit the plot every day this isn't practical and the berries ripen as well off the bush. We have four bushes that produce fruit at slightly different times and interestingly the leaves of each bush are turning red in the same order as they fruit.
Last week was the time for calling it a day on the garden greenhouse tomatoes. As Martyn posted in the week all the tomatoes were removed and the plants disposed of.
Hopefully the green tomatoes will continue to ripen and be joined by a few more when the plot greenhouse gets the same treatment. We grew quite a few cherry sized tomatoes this year but we didn't turn our back on the big boys such as this Ananas (Pineapple tomato!) The plant didn't grow as well as the other varieties but still managed to produce this.
It's our biggest this year but is a lone way off our record breaking monster video here, which was almost twice as big. We don't have perennials taking space this winter and so we are trying to decide what we can grow in an unheated greenhouse over winter. Any suggestions?
No I'm not trying to rewrite British history, I'm referring to plums. After a bumper harvest of Victoria plums we are now picking the variety Marjorie's seedling. There are still some Victoria plums left in the tree but most are out of reach and so will be left to the wasps and whatever else fancies a nibble.
Marjorie's seedling isn't as prolific but tasty nonetheless and to be honest we couldn't cope with a repeat of the Victoria bounty.
Martyn has been digging up potatoes. All of the ones above were planted in holes through weed control membrane and then just left to get on with growing with no further support from us. Martyn posted about them here. This at best has proved to us that there is no detrimental effects from growing potatoes in this way, in fact maybe in such a dry season the fabric has helped maintain some moisture. We don't water potatoes so they have to survive on whatever nature sends them. The annual flower bed is still looking lovely and has provided a few flowers for the house.
These were supplemented with some crocosmia, daisies and verbena from another bed on the plot. I've stopped dead heading now so no doubt the flowers will soon go over.
Last week I planted out some wallflowers, sweet rocket and sweet Williams which should hopefully provide some earlier colour next year.
The tomatoes are now ripening well.
We are now harvesting sweetcorn which is certainly earning its name. The kernels are so sweet that any stripped cobs soon attract a wasp's attention and it will browse on any remnants for hours. It was enjoying its meal so much that it was oblivious to Martyn taking its photo.
Once upon a time there was a Green Lane Allotments
Association which I chaired and Martyn was treasurer for.
The main aim of the association was to raise funding in
order to carry out improvements to the site. In fact this blog and my website were originally set up in order to
drive fund raising and support grant applications. In fact much of the funding
was raised by gardening companies kindly donating in return for an advert and as commission for sales
they generated. As we acquired sufficient funding various projects were
completed such as the replacement of the entrance fence and gate.
The next project that our sights were fixed on was to
replace the fence at the top end of the site and fund raising for this was well
Then for reasons that I won’t go into, the association was
disbanded six years ago and the bank made the account dormant.
In a conversation with one of the allotment officers I asked
whether there was any way that the money sitting in this account could be used by the council to maybe
match fund and replace the top section of fencing. As a result I was put in contact
with Claire Smith an engagement's officer with the council.
Claire made various enquiries and it became apparent that no
match funding was forthcoming but that we could afford to replace the top
fencing with a cheaper type of fencing than originally planned.
Whilst Claire worked on getting the work organised, Martyn
and I approached the bank to claim the money from the dormant account. Five
months later, after completing forms - twice, hours of telephone calls, stupid
bank errors and frustrating meetings with the bank culminating with a visit
where we made it clear that we were going nowhere until something was sorted
out, we received a cheque which was passed to the council.
We only had enough money to fund a new piece of fencing but
not enough to replace the gate so Claire explored other funding routes and
grants but with no success.
We then decided to try appealing for support from our ward
councillors and received a very positive response.
Now an ex-councillor, Rory Bickerton was successful in an
application for funding from the Neighbourhood Improvement Fund which would pay
for the gate.
The first stage of the work involved the clearing the area
of brambles etc. This proved to be more problematic than expected and so an
arborist was called in before fence installation could proceed.
Claire requested new padlocks which the council agreed to
provide and so finally after various glitches along the way his phase of our original plan has been completed.
As can be seen in the photos below the removal of the old fence revealed years' worth of litter that Claire is hoping to arrange to have cleared up.
Many thanks to Claire for her efforts and support, our local councillors for obtaining the additional funding for the gate and to Jan for adapting the gate so that the lock is accessible from both sides. Our original long term plan was to go on to replace the
fencing behind the allotments alongside the main entrance and repair gaps in
the hedge down the long boundary.
Obviously neither of these projects will be completed unless
someone else takes them on and as for the new piece of fencing it’s better very, very late than never.
Queen Elizabeth II may have ousted Victoria as the monarch to be on the British throne for the most number of years but on our plot it is Victoria that reigns supreme this week, Victoria plum that is.
I don't know whether the later flowering period this year played a part but this is our best Victoria plum harvest ever. We have given away nearly as many plums as we have kept.
Climbing French and runner beans are still going strong and we are now harvesting small but sweet sweetcorn cobs as well as the occasional cauliflower.
We picked our first raspberries on 1 July and have picked some on just about every plot visit since with the varieties - summer Glen Ample and Tulameen and autumn Joan J and All Gold blending seamlessly.
The larger tomatoes are now ripening. We have been pleased with the tomatoes this year after two disappointing years that we are blaming on rubbishy compost.
The mini cucumbers and salad leaves have provided a constant supply for lunch time sandwiches.
The aubergines are fruiting steadily. Until we started to grow the variety Jackpot we had little success with them.
The onions and shallots had already been dug and laid on the surface to dry and last week I managed to clean off and bring in half of them before the rain on Saturday spoiled things and the second lot gathered on Sunday needed laying out to dry again.
The onions are a variety of sizes being planted to encourage this. Some sets were planted closer together or in clusters. The harvest was good but as usual there was quite a few onions that needed throwing away. Onions seem to be the target of innumerable pests and diseases.
Some bulbs had been hollowed out maybe by mice and one was being eaten by a spotted snake millipede. Some had what could be white rot and others were infested with what looked like onion fly larvae.
Some had run to seed - we used to plant heat treated sets to avoid this bit this meant we had to plant later.
All this and the fact that there are other onion pests and diseases that affect other parts of the country are inevitably creeping our way means that if we hadn't plenty of space I doubt we would grow summer onions. Added to this is the fact that flavourwise I don't really think home grown are particularly superior to commercially produced ones.
Shallots seem much `easier` and winter onions seems to avoid some of the problems that seem to plague their summer cousins.
Maybe you totally disagree and couldn't be without home grown - is there something else that would be the first to be crossed off your growing list?
There is one plant in our garden and on the plot that merrily self seeds and gets on with the act of growing quietly until one day it just can't resist shouting "Look at me!"
Both Martyn and I have mentioned how clumps of cyclamen hederifolium keep defying the odds and popping up in some of the most inhospitable parts of the plot.
Can you spot them? Here's a closer view of what is obviously more than one plant.
In the garden too they make a surprise appearance in unlikely areas. This clump is alongside a step up to the summerhouse that was only built last year. It is more surprising considering that to grow into the size it has will have taken a few years in a postion that has been a building site for some of that time.
A favourite position appears to be being tucked in a corner where it can get on with the job of growing undisturbed.
Often plants appear in inconvenient places but I can't bring myself to dispose of them and so many have ended up in these troughs.
I think though the plants have given me a hint as to where some may be relocated.
Under the magnolia tree is planted for late winter/early spring interest. Usually the display is kicked off with snowdrops but not this year.
The clumps will bulk up and put on better displays each year and maybe some will find their way out of a trough to join them.