My name is Anne and this is my allotment in the north-east of England. I love to be there.
So that I can keep track of what I am growing and where I am growing it, I am keeping a diary. Feel free to add a comment, I might reply..or I might not.
The temperature is dropping, it was 10C this morning at 9.30am. Time for the tomato plants to go...took off the last few fruits. I'll think of something to do with them, don't know what yet, no more chutney though, I know that much.
I took off some sideshoots of the marmande and poked them into a pot to overwinter on the kitchen widowsill.
It was worth doing this year, there were fruit on earlier than usual with the Marmande, and from the very bottom of the stems to the tops. Quite often the fruit trusses don't grow until the plant is quite tall so the bottom foot or two of stem is unproductive space.
I don't think I need to keep shoots of the Shirley or Garden Pearl as they both flowered early anyway.
I haven't taken the outside tomatoes down yet, it is a bit too cold and wet at the moment, but they won't be long.
There is no sign of the Jalapeno peppers turning red so I 'll keep them for a while. If I can find some space I will bring them into the house when it turns cold. It did well this year if a little leggy. Just wish I actually liked chillis.
The weather has turned autumnal all of a sudden, grey skies, spatters of rain and a bit breezy. That did not affect the annual allotment show, however, and we managed to raise a few pounds for the association plus a good burger for lunch.
The show went by without any contributions from me this year, sadly, I've just had too much on, my kitchen is being painted so I have nowhere to put anything at the moment. Space and time are needed to spread everything out to decide whether there is enough good quality stuff to put in the show.
Truth to tell, I just haven't done all that well this year, the harvest was okay but nothing to write home about. The early drought set back a lot of the early crops and when we did get some rain there was little sun and low temperatures.
My corn has cobs at last, but unless we get a couple of weeks of sun and warm they won't ripen.
I've never known my sweet peas to die mid season before, and two sowings of mange-tout and peas have both been non-starters
The broad beans weren't as prolific as usual, but it was a different variety than usual so it might not have been just the weather causing it.
The climbing beans are producing more than enough for home consumption, but that is mostly the runners (Czar), the french beans have been nowhere near as productive as last year...very tasty though (blue lake).
Unusually, the winter onions were affected by basal root mould, I suppose because the mild winter we had last year didn't kill off enough bugs.
The beetroot has been so slow to grow I haven't had any worth picking even now, although I might get some eventually.
There's been some good things though...
the blackberries have got loads of lovely big berries
the runner beans as I said earlier.
the potatoes in bags were nice, tasty and clean.
the tomatoes have done really well this year though, I've had loads. I've made soups, passata, pasta sauce and ratatouille and still had enough to give away to friends and family.
Dropping a shelf down in the greenhouse mean't each tomato plant (Shirley and Marmande) had room for another truss, and the Outdoor Girls did well in the blowaway outside even though the door has been rolled up since June. The Outdoor Girls are nicely flavoured and quite productive, but very straggly plants, I'm never quite sure how to deal with these bush varieties that fall about all over. If the branches are left on the ground, the slugs and snails get them but its hard to tie them up because of all the stems.
All in all not bad so far. Still to come (hopefully) sweetcorn, celeriac, beetroot, apples and pears, more potatoes, more beans (depodded) and maybe a teaspoon of saffron.
I haven't been able to upload photos for the last week or so since I had an update to windows 10. Don't know why. But now I have discovered how to upload direct from my camera, so I will be able to catch my readers up ...all three of them.
This strange caterpillar was spotted crossing the path at the allotment.
It is a hawk moth caterpillar with false eyes on its back, in the second pic, the real head is tucked under, presumably because I frightened it when I picked it up to get a better photo. This is only the second time I have seen one.
My biggest tomato. (Marmande)
It has been a good year so far for toms. Nothing much else mind.
I found, in the pantry, a bit of ginger root starting to sprout so I laid it on top of some damp compost and stuck it underneath a tomato plant in the greenhouse, and lo...!
Now what do I do with it!
The purple sweet corn is looking very healthy, thanks to all the rain lately, but no sign of any tassells. They are going to have to get moving as the season is ticking on....only a few more weeks of "summer" to go.
picking now: broad beans (just tailing off), runner beans (in full flow), french beans (just starting), blackberries (just starting), courgettes (steady)
There are a couple of cucumbers in the making and three crown prince pumpkins, lets hope they get a bit bigger than last time I tried them.
Picking runners and broad beans and the odd courgette.
Its unusual to be picking both types of beans at the same time, the broad beans seem late this year. I assume it was the dry spring slowing things down and there was also quite a bad attack of blackfly just at the time the plants were trying to set their first flowers. I thought the beans, both plant and pod, were particularly small this year, only about 3 or 4 beans per pod and only about 18 inches high, but they are all like that so it could be the variety. But I wouldn't know as Ihave been very naughty this year and not kept a record of what and where. I can't find a packet and I haven't written anything in my notebook since march! Tut tut!
This new kitchen I have been getting has a lot to answer for...
After a few days of dryness, its back to the rain again...all day non-stop...
Picked the gooseberries, the jostaberries and the blackcurrants. Not very many of any of them and the goosberries are small this year. Victims of the dry spring, I guess.
The blackcurrants aren't bad considering two thirds of the bush had to be surgically removed. There may be more jostaberries to come, I couldn't get near because of weeds but the fine weather has let me get at them.
The weather a bit better today so down tout suite to the plot to do some much needed weeding.
Cleared bed one of the remaining shallots, weeded and replanted with four slightly slug bitten cucumber plants bought from the plant scheme. (Burpless tasty green)
They look a bit lonely but they will be joined very soon by their best friends willow herb, buttercup and fat hen.
I should have cleared the onion bed next but my knees and back declared they had had enough crawling around. So instead I pulled the garlic which as usual has succumbed to rust. Some quite decent bulbs this year, certainly enough to see me through the winter.
Brought all the onions and shallots home in the pram, to dry in the garage.
Paddled again, boots and trousers soaked. All the long weeds which I should have kept on top of are sopping and drape around the legs as I push through. As soon as it dries a bit I will get the shears and strimmer at them.
Some things are looking good despite (or because of) the rain.
The remaining blackcurrant stems after my surgery on the bush, have super big berries, as if it is making up for the lack of stems.
The red and white currants were unaffected by whatever the blackcurrant had and are ripening nicely.
I didn't net the gooseberries this year and the pigeons have had nearly all the red ones.
The first baby courgette...
Some broad beans looking good..
other stems blackened, I think that might be black fly damage.
The sweet peas need picking but it is too wet to linger. Besides, the flowers never seem to last long when picked in the wet.
Paddled through long wet grass and weeds to my strawberries. Lots laid flat to the soil by the constant rain this past two, three days. Lots of strawberries there but soggy and slug-ridden. No strawberry jam this year.
Everything that needed water is looking perkier, everything that needed to be dry eg. strawberries, onions and shallots are looking dismal.
Hey ho! that's an english summer for you...its either too dry or too wet or too cold, there is always something to complain about.
I went to the plot for a punnet of strawberries...
...and picked over three kilos!
The downside of the dry weather is that although the fruit look good, the taste of them is quite variable. Some large, sweet and juicy, as an English strawberry should be, and some rather small, seedy with a strong, almost bitter flavour. They might work for jam.
The rain of a few days ago has doubled the size of the weeds!
The plants are doing okay too, if a little small because of the earlier lack of rain.
Plenty of strawberries though, some quite large, the watering I did has paid off. There is about a kilo there, some for my sister, some for the freezer and some for my tea.
Out of a 9 feet long row of seeds ...2 parsnips! I should be grateful, it could have been none.
Most of the sweetcorn are growing nicely. Although that one in the middle looks as if it is not long for this world.
The withering on the blackcurrant bush is spreading so I can rule out frost damage. I read that they need to be watered during dry spells, which I haven't much, so I wonder if that could be the cause. I can't see any mould or mildew or any obvious pests so I have cut the withered branches off in the hopes of stopping whatever it is from spreading any further. The only two stalks left are new wood, which doesn't seem to be affected like the rest (so far) which were all on old wood. The remaining leaves had a lot of aphids so I washed them down with a mild detergent solution.
Lots of flowers on the broad beans.
The first sweet pea, can't make a bunch yet ..
The winter onions that have survived the basal mould have decided its time..
The flowery bit it looking pretty.
In the greenhouse at home...
...the tomatoes are looking promising...except...
...the dreaded Blossom End Rot...just the one so far on the overwintered Marmande tomatoes.
The garden is still very dry. This seems to be the pattern for the last few years. There was a little rain here and there, but not enough to make very much difference.
So I got fed up waiting for rain to soften the ground and have planted out my courgettes and crown prince squash regardless.
The garlic has grown flower heads this year and I hear tell that the "scapes" are good to eat. So I have cut them off and will give them a go for my dinner tonight.
Not sure how to cook them but I can't go wrong if I sautee them in butter.
The leeks that I planted too late last year are reaching a decent size but because it is their second year they have all thrown up flower spikes, so I have started to use them even though they aren't very big.
So far quite a lot of them, when I have dug them up have had baby leeks attached at the root. They are about the size that leeks should be at this time so I have detached them as carefully as I can and replanted them. Nothing lost if they don't survive.
Summary of the planting so far:
shallots, almost ready to harvest
turnip, beetroot and florence fennel seeds sown yesterday
sweet corn planted out
runner and french climbing beans planted out
broad bean tied in and supported although they are still small
sweet peas and cleome planted out
winter onions either going mouldy or maturing nicely
strawberries looking plentiful but still green
leeks and garlic as above mentioned
brussells' sprouts growing well between the garlic.
celeriac growing in among the leeks, I put them in the shade of the hedge because they like to be damp.
asparagus finished, two plants didn't show this year, so far anyway.
currant bushes looking well except for one side of the blackcurrants.
apples and pears all have fruit but are needing water.