Monday, August 21

The wrong sort of weather

Last week the weather was just what you don't want when there is almost ripe fruit hanging on the trees and onions are being 'dried' outdoors. It was wet and windy. Plot visits have more or less been confined to a quick harvest and watering in the greenhouse. During the week, Martyn did manage to strim the grass paths and I started a bit of tidying but any activity was interspersed with coffee breaks in the shed avoiding the showers.

Sunday we managed a full afternoon, I tidied the strawberry beds and Martyn lifted potatoes and did some tidying and of course we both harvested.
This year our overwintered onions have provided us with a crop up until the summer ones being lifted. The ones above are Radar.
15 August
The cabbage in the collection above weighed in at 2.7 kg (just a smidgeon under 6lb). It was another of the so called small cabbages. I prepared it and filled a large freezer bag to be kept in the fridge to use throughout the week. It keeps quite well this way.
We now have a steady supply of tomatoes from the garden greenhouse and from outside on the plot. Incredibly, those planted outdoors are ripening sooner than those in the plot greenhouse. So far we have harvested Sungold and Gardeners' Delight. The pace of ripening is steady, just enough to provide us with fresh fruits for lunch. 

We are still cropping watercress from our garden pond but it looks as though this will soon be ready to be cut back.
We are picking peaches and nectarines from the trees in the garden greenhouse and they are chin drippingly juicy.

We also have figs ripening in the garden. Just enough to add to our fruit salads.

I'm still picking peas, blackberries and blueberries on each visit to the plot. 
17 August
Martyn dug more potatoes - this time the variety is Vivaldi and Nadine. Again there was no pest although one potato did have the possible sign of blight. This may have been something else as it is strange that we haven't noticed a problem with the foliage, other than there being wilting due to a lack of rain. Also only one potato was affected. We have now sampled Casablanca, Orla, Amour and Vivaldi and all have produced very tasty tubers. Despite the lack of rain or any artificial watering, Vivaldi has produced some good sized potatoes.
We haven't grown summer squash before so the Yellow Scallop below is our first ever summer squash harvest,
We are being kept busy picking and preparing climbing French and runner beans. All our varieties are now cropping. So far this is the only crop that is giving us anything that could be called a glut. The courgettes seem surprisingly shy to produce this year.
I guess you could say that we have a glut of sweet peas but it's a glut that I can happily cope with.
19 August
The greengages are ripe and deliciously sweet in spite of the fact that they are not the prettiest looking fruit. All the fruit within reach from our two trees has been picked now.
We are also still picking Victoria plums and still the wasps have kept away. Coincidence or are the waspinators working. At the moment they have been weather battered and so have been given a makeover. This time to strengthen them I have used a double layer of paper bags.

We are picking apples to eat fresh from the plot and the garden. The ones  below are the variety that we think is Discovery.
The ones below is Peasgood Nonsuch picked from the garden. They were cooked and mixed with some blackberries.
We had been waiting to pick a fruit from one of our small apple trees. This has been the first year that Baya Marisa, or to give it, it's more easily remembered name Tickled Pink, has produced fruit. The flesh of the fruit is red almost to the core as can be seen in the photo below.
 I expected a sweet tasting apple but we found it to have a sharp, tart flavour.
The potatoes below are Nadine.
20 August
I thought that I would give you a break from photographs of sweet peas but I have to include a photos representing our flower harvest. The flowers below were picked from our perennial and annual beds.
Martyn has produced a video about our Vivaldi harvest. The video is just over 8 minutes long.

Wednesday, August 16

A peek into the garden

Monday, August 14

Time to dig the potatoes and pick the beans.

At the beginning of last week I lifted all our onions and shallots. We always struggle to find somewhere to dry them. This year we constructed some makeshift drying tables using wire mesh and boxes which were positioned under our greengage trees. Of course it then decided to rain but at least the bulbs won't be sitting on damp soil and the trees will have afforded some protection.

Our rhubarb struggled in the prolonged, dry conditions so we gave it a good soak which revived it and its now on its second wind. 
7 August 
The thornless blackberry - Loch Ness is producing large juicy berries. I'm really happy that this replaced a previous thorny variety which fought back with venom when I tried to pick the fruits.
The blueberries are keeping up a steady supply. The fruit on our third bush is now ripening. The berries are plentiful and a good size so it is a pity that I don't know the variety.
12 August
All three varieties of runner beans - Celebration, Lady Di and Firestorm are producing well. Two of the climbing French beans - Cobra and Cosse Violette are also providing a harvest. The yellow Coronna d' Oro is so far beanless although it is flowering. Cosse Violette is just starting to come into production but Cobra was the first of our beans to 'fruit' and is still going strong. We had a freezing session after picking a box full of beans.
I am continuing to pick peas on every visit to the plot. Our second and third sown rows are now in production. So far none of the pods have harboured any unwelcome guests.
Some fruits have harvested themselves. Shortly after photographing the fig below, it fell from the tree and shortly after that it was on our plates. We shared it of course.
A couple of peaches fell off the tree in the greenhouse. Fortunately they didn't spoil so we enjoyed them too. The taste  indicated that we should maybe start harvesting from the tree.
The tomatoes in our garden greenhouse have started to ripen. Last week we picked some Gardeners' Delight ...
... and Sungold.
The Sungold fruits tend to split but it doesn't stop us enjoying the taste.

We picked the first of the apples from our apple hedge. We think that the variety is Discovery and the ones peeping from behind are likely to be Golden Delicious.
A few berries were added to our fruit salads - the first few all Gold raspberries and probably the last of the Malwina strawberries with a few alpine strawberries thrown in to the mix

Martyn has started digging up the potatoes. The ones shown below are Casablanca. We haven't watered any of our potatoes all season so they have had to cope with very dry conditions. Despite this Casablanca produced a good crop of damage free potatoes.
In the photo below the top box of potatoes are Amour which also produced a damage free crop. The lower box Orla did have some nibbling slug damage but still produced a reasonable crop of usable potatoes
           13 August
We have moved on from the Oullins Gage plums and are now harvesting Victoria. So far no wasp activity - could my waspinators be working?
Next to the plums in the photo, taken on 13 August, is a punnet of Mannings greengages. Greengage's colouring belie their true nature. We usually associate green fruit with sharpness or a sour taste but greengages are  very sweet and delicious. 

The sweet peas are now in mass production mode. The batch below was just the flowers picked on Saturday. I am pleased that the stems are still very long as I've found that normally the stems shorten after the first few pickings.
The perennial and annual flower beds are also providing a plentiful supply of cut flowers. It's like being a kid in a sweet shop.
To complete our Harvest Monday roundup, Martyn put together a video showing the digging of the Casablance potatoes. Excuse the heavy breathing, he isn't worn out, the microphone was just rather keen.

The video is about 7 minutes long.

As usual I am linking to harvest Monday hosted on Dave's blog Our Happy Acres

Friday, August 11

Plot perennial border

This year has been a year for much needed renovation work on the allotment. One such project was the renovation of a large flower bed at one edge of our plot.

Regular readers may be able to cast their minds back to the beginning of the year when the bed looked like this.
It was swamped with couch grass, bindweed and all manner of other weeds. 

This was the allotment so we didn't want to spend a fortune, rather it needed a cheap and cheerful look. With this in mind we spotted an offer of 172 perennial plug plants at a very reasonable price. It was a pot luck collection which meant that we couldn't choose the plants to be included.

These arrived at the beginning of April. They were tiny plug plants and so they were potted up with three or more plugs to a pot.
By the 4 May we had removed as many weeds as possible. The black elders and roses had been severely 'pruned'.
4 May
Couch grass and bindweed are persistent and so I kept going over the bed to remove any pieces that were reappearing.
11 May

Plants that we wanted to keep were dug up, tidied and replanted.
14 May
These included centaurea montana - perennial cornflowers, some penstemon and some bearded irises.
We then planted out the potted perennials which although they had put on quite a lot of growth still didn't make much of an impression. We guessed that this year the bed would look sparse.
14 May
30 May

3 June

The new perennials grew surprisingly quickly and in June lupins and poppies were flowering but the bindweed was also making an appearance sometimes courtesy of the tiniest fragment previously missed.
10 June
I grew some achillea, gaillardia and ageratum from seed which were added to fill some gaps.
13 June
We bought some dahlia tubers and moved some overwintered chrysanthemums and a dahlia from the greenhouse. Soon rather surprisingly the bed was filling out.
7 August
7 August
7 August
I still keep spotting bits of bindweed but I am determined to stay on top of it - wish me luck.

If you have about 20 minutes to spare you may like to watch the video that I made showing this and other flower areas on our allotment. I recommend viewing in full screen. There is a commentary so turn your sound on.

Copyright: Original post from Our Plot at Green Lane Allotments
author S Garrett