Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Allotment photographs for June/July 2012

This is a working allotment and it has to provide as many vegetables as possible.  It is not an exhibition allotment and I would not suggest that it is something that necessarily should be emulated.  It is the way I do things not a way that things should be done.  I do a lot of things that are not recommended by the Royal Horticultural Society.

It has been a particularly difficult year due to the unprecedented amount of rain.  While this would not be a disaster, the restriction in light levels due to thick clouds has just added to the slow growth of all the plants.

This blog is also a reminder to show me what happened when I experimented or grew something new.  It  shows me what and where and when I planted things.  A reminder that seems more necessary the older I get.

The tomatoes and cucumbers in the greenhouse are growing well, although not as good as last year.  I have wound the tomatoes around strings because I cannot be doing with tying them up to canes all the time.  It also saves on buying canes.  One end of the string is buried under the tomato in the growing medium the other end is tied to a wire. 
Strings tied to a wire stretching across the
greenhouse June 2012
I have a load of Begonia rex and Saintpaulia ionantha cuttings coming along well.  The Cyclamen persicum are drying out and will be repotted during August.  I have left the pot on its side and pointed the cyclamen tubers south so that they get all the Sun's warmth that they can.  They like to get roasted by the sun during the summer.  Fat chance this year.  The Schlumbergera bridgesii is covering them a little so I will have to move it.

July 2012 - shows you how quickly the
tomatoes grow.  
The cucumbers are being supported by the wire mesh shelves, which they are growing through.  I don't think that I will give them any other support at the moment. The cucumbers are planted in an old terracotta pot that I had left over from the patio.  They are in a general purpose growing medium not unlike the tomatoes.
Two compost heaps.
Rather than waste the space and the potatoes, I decided to plant  in the compost heap on the left.  There are also some pumpkins on the heap but they are getting a little swamped by the potatoes.  The right hand compost heap has all the weeds and thinnings from the carrots on it.  As you can see I  put paper and cardboard onto the heap to add to the compost.  Inside the bag is pigeon manure.  The nettles in the foreground will be harvested and put into the comfrey bin to add to the "tea".  All this will be dismantled and taken to the new allotment.  I think that I only need two compost heaps really.  I am not too sure where to put the compost heaps on the new allotment.  When I empty the potato compost heap, I will turn the other one into it.  The pigeon muck that I added seems to have affected the peach tree quite badly, which shows you just how careful you have to be with pigeon muck.
Worm bin by the compost heap
I have been extracting quite a lot of liquid from the tap at the bottom of the worm bin.  I do put comfrey and nettles into the bin as well to add variety. The liquid gets mixed in with the comfrey and sweet cicely liquid manure.  Despite the rain, I have been watering the comfrey liquid on virtually all the vegetable plants.
Green comfrey bins in the background
I have just cropped the comfrey and put it into the green bins. With all the rain that we have been having both the nettles and the comfrey have grown very quickly.  I may crop them again this week.  As you will see below, I have also cropped the sweet cicely and put it into the bins to add to the mixture.
Comfrey patch
The comfrey is growing back after being cropped.  This is about a week and a half's growth.  There are no fruit on the little pear tree but there are some apples on the apple tree.
Small apple tree in comfrey bed
In the compost heap behind the tree, I have got a private stash of pigeon muck.  I intend to move this to the new allotment slowly but surely.  It is stored away well here and will be kept away from plants that it might affect.  It does not seem to have any effect on the potatoes.
Potato bed
It would seem that the pigeon muck and horse manure sieved into this soil during the winter has produced some good potato tops.  I don't know whether this will convert into some good potato tubers but it looks good.  For some reason this ground seems to grow really good potatoes. I doubt that it has any relationship with my gardening skills.

Potato bed 2
The potatoes are looking after themselves at the moment.  When they form this dense canopy, no weeds can grow underneath it.  Most of the potatoes have flowered now and they will be forming tubers.  The earlies are at the front near to the apple mint.  I did scrape some soil away to see if they were forming tubers and there were none that I could find.  I will leave them in at least for another week before looking again.  With the warm wet weather that we have been having there is a genuine threat of potato blight Pythopthora infestans. The symptoms are brown patches on the leaves but it does not take very long for the plant to turn yellow and wilt away.   I could really do with another few weeks before that happens though.  If the potatoes do get blight then I will just take off all of the tops as quickly as I can.  This will stop the fungus from growing into the tubers.  
Rheum rhaponticum 
The rhubarb seems to like the very wet weather we have been having.  I put a lot of cow muck onto it in the Spring and this seems to have perked it up a bit too.  I am still cropping the rhubarb and we are having it stewed, pied and crumbled.  Loverly juberly.
East side of the Raspberries.
The raspberries have started to fruit.  I ate all of these ones at the allotment.  There is nothing like eating raspberries straight from the canes.  There is lots of flowers on them and the bumble bees ( mostly Bombus lucorum and  Bombus terrestris) are having a field day pollinating them.
West side of the Raspberries
There are just as many raspberries on this side of the plants too.  The old, fruiting canes are the ones with the yellowish leaves.  The new canes, which I will have to tie in soon, have much more green leaves.  These canes will fruit next year.  This year's fruiting canes will be cut out at soil level when they have finished fruiting.
Latah tomatoes 
These Latah tomatoes were planted in garden soil in a ring culture pot.  They were put onto a cow manure hot bed and given comfrey liquid every week.  They have been protected with fleece and generally molly coddled, however with the very cold, wet, dark weather this is all the growth they have put on.  They do have quite a few tomatoes on them but I seriously doubt that they will go red.  Not a good year for outdoor tomatoes.  Latah is a bush tomato and will cheerfully grow in these pots with little or no maintenance except for a liberal dose of liquid manure every week.  I will not be taking out side shoots or tying them up.
More Latah tomatoes.
It is not just the tomatoes that are suffering from lack of light and heat, all the other exotics are growing poorly this year.
Latah tomatoes but will the go red in this
cold weather?
I will continue to persevere with these tomatoes but they are very poor compared to the greenhouse tomatoes.
Sweet corn
Everyone says that I have planted this far too close together.  It might be true but they seem to be doing very well this far apart.  In any case I do not have anywhere else to plant them and I don't want to throw any away.  If they were yellowy, drawn, weak plants then I might agree they are too close together but look at them - they look fine to me.
Not as big as the ones in the greenhouse but still good.  These cucumbers were planted in general purpose potting medium in a ring culture pot.  They are on a cow muck hot bed.  I am hoping that they will climb the wire supports I have put into the cold frame.

The pumpkins have just decided to grow.  They have tripled their size in just a few days.  
Lemon balm and spear mint.
The mints seem to like the wet weather as well.  
Four courgettes will be more than enough.  
The courgettes have got flowers on again but still no fruit.
Poor old squashes.  
The squashes have begun to recover from all the rain.  They were tiny until a few days ago when they started to really grow.  You can see how much rain we have had because I hoed this area last Saturday.  The rain water  has flowed off in riverlets washing the soil onto the path.  I think that the plants will survive but whether they produce any fruit this year is anyone's guess.
They may be late and affected by Phytomyza gymnostoma but these are some of the best onions I have had for a long time.  With any luck they will bulk up now and I will have some to harvest in a months time.  The shallots are going over now and they will have to be taken out and dried off.  The garlic has already been harvested and is drying in the shed.  The leeks in the background are doubling their size every week now.  Some have been affected by the leek miner fly but the majority haven't.  So that I can get a harvest of leeks, I will cover them with enviromesh at the beginning of September.
Onions from the other end of the rows.

There are about three or four different types of leeks here but the best ones are the Musselburgh.  They all seem to like the wet weather.  The ones that are looking poorly are the ones affected by Phytomyza gymnostoma.   
Sweet pea and bean bed.
The cold wet weather has done no favors for the sweet peas.  They need a lot more light and warmth to flower.  The beans are struggling too.  The stream has stopped flowing down the trackway at the moment but it only takes a little rain to cause it to flow again.  With so much water near to the roots of the beans, it means that they are not growing as fast as they usually do.
Runner beans next to the running water
These are Scarlet Emperor  - mostly.  I kept the seed from last year and planted them with these result.  I think that it is quite good for no cost at all.  On the other side of the row are Painted Lady runner beans.

Painted Lady Runner Beans.

They are planted a little closer together than I usually plant them.  This is partly an experiment and partly because I ran out of room.  
Cobra French Climbing Beans
The Cobra were grown from saved seed as well.  Last year they did not do very well because they were devastated by slugs and snails.  This year I have been careful to keep slugs and snails off them and they have rewarded me by growing very well.
Nora Holman Sweet Peas
The sweet peas have grown big but they have lost a great many flowers due to bud drop.  Cold, wet weather is not good for sweet pea flowers.  
Anniversary Sweet Peas
I have planted too many pink sweet peas this year.  However, they still look fine to me.
Gwendoline Sweet Peas
Gwendoline sweet peas are one of the very best.  The only downside is that it only has a little scent. 
Jilly is a beautiful cream.
Oban Bay
Oban Bay is an ice blue but maybe not as good as Bristol Sweet Pea.
Lizbeth Sweet Pea
Told you I have planted too many pink sweet peas.However, Lizbeth has a very strong scent and is well worth growing.
Angela Ann Sweet Pea
When you have quite a few of one colour, when you do get a contrast it really stands out.
Eclipse Sweet Pea
I did not like the Restormel red last year but it is growing on me a little more this year.
Restormel Sweet Pea
I would like it to be a little redder than this though.
White Supreme Sweet Pea
It would be good if I could get these photographs in focus.
Honeymoon Sweet Pea
As you can see they have been battered by the rain and wind but they are still trying to give a good display.

The brassicas have been attacked by cabbage root fly this year so are not a good as they usually are.  I have hoed up soil around the base of the plants to encourage them to form new roots to counter the fly.
Brussel Sprouts
They don't look like they have been affected by cabbage root fly but I can assure you they were.  
Winter Cauliflower
Hopefully the winter cauliflowers that are affected by cabbage root fly will survive and produce some cauliflowers next April.  
Calabrese and summer cauliflowers
One of the things that I cannot stand is green caterpillars in the cauliflower heads.  To counter this and keep the cabbage white butterflies away from the cauliflowers and the calabrese, I have covered them with a 1 cm mesh net.  The other cauliflowers are under the enviromesh.
Cauliflowers and cabbages under the mesh.  
To be fair, I have not seen very many cabbage white butterflies this year.  In fact, I have not seen many butterflies at all this year.  But I am still not taking off the enviromesh.
Swede and kohlrabi
Both the swede and the kohlrabi have been attacked by slugs, snails and cabbage root fly.  Getting them to grow this big has been a chore.  I think that I will continue to sow them in modules and plant them out as I do with the cabbage, brussels and cauliflowers.
Kohlrabi is starting to swell up now.
The swedes and the kohlrabi are getting regular feeds of comfrey liquid fertilizer.  This is helping them to bulk up a little more.
The blackberry had a spectacular display of blossom this year but I am not sure whether the fruit will rot in this wet weather.  I think the answer is to pick them as soon as they are ripe.
The blackcurrants are starting to go black now so they will have to be harvested soon.  The weight of the currants and the rain are making some of the branches fall onto the soil.  A few judicious stakes here and there does wonders to prevent this.
I can honestly say that I could not eat another strawberry if you paid me - and they are still fruiting.  Slugs have had some, woodlice have had some, even the birds have had some; but there are still copious amounts of berries ready for picking.
Broad Bean
I don't really like broad beans.  I can eat them in curries and stews but I don't like them on their own.  That is why I have not grown very many of them.  I will use these plants to produce seeds that I can use next year.  I will use the plants as green manure.
Oskar peas
Now I thought that Oskar was a small pea plant that would not overshadow other plants.  Well no one told my Oskar plants.  They are about 3 feet 6 inches tall now.  What can I say?  Early - yes, large pointy pods with lots of peas in them - yes, high yield - yes, very short - I don't think so.
Early Onward peas
I put these in in April and they have come through the cold wet weather very well.  They have just started to flower now.  I do like Early Onward peas.
Early Onward peas second sowing.
So I planted some more in May.  These are the plants from the second sowing.  But I did not stop there.
Hurst Green Shaft peas
The Hurst Green Shaft always cropped really well for me until a few years ago.  Now it is very reluctant to grow into decent sized plants.  I only grew it to give me a better succession.
You can get a succession of peas in several ways.  Firstly from sowing them at different times during the year.  Secondly you can use early and main crop varieties that mature at different times.  You can use a protective environment like a tunnel cloche and fleece and finally you can use the aspect of the ground.  If the ground is sloping towards the north the peas will grow slower than those on a south facing slope.  The problem is that no one tells the peas.
Oskar peas first sowing.
These are the January sown Oskar peas - or that was what they were named on the packet.  However these are the Douce Provence February sown seeds.
Douce Provence Peas
Which are fruiting profusely at the same time as the Oskar.  Don't these peas realize they are not supposed to fruit until after the Oskar has finished?  What can I say.  I don't care when you plant peas they will do their level best to fruit at exactly the same time as each other.

Trail of Tears bean
This year I have tried my first heritage seed.  These are the  Cherokee  "Trail of Tears" climbing French bean.  It has got clobbered by the slugs and snails and does not like the cold wet weather we have been having but it is now beginning to climb up the supports.  They are growing on a Hugelkultur hot bed so they should be doing better than this.  I think that they would have done much better in a warmer year.

The enviromesh is still over the carrots to act as a barrier against carrot root fly.  I have taken the environmesh off in September and still got carrot root fly damage.  I am very reluctant to take the mesh off during the summer.  I weed very carefully never taking the whole mesh off the carrots.  I have thinned out the first line but I still need to do the other three lines.  
Parsnips and lettuce
I was saying to myself that I have not got enough parsnips this year.  I only planted one line.  However, there are about 19 plants in this row.  If I eat two a week that means that I have to eat parsnips for at least 8 weeks.  That is enough parsnip eating time for anyone.  
Beetroot and Florence Fennel
I had a terrible time trying to germinate beetroot this year.  This is the second sowing.  The fennel on the other hand germinated with no problem and is growing on really well.

More beetroot
You can't have enough beetroot.  There is also salsify, hamburg parsley and salad burnet in this bed.  
The tansy is flanked on both sides with lettuce.  I am trying to get a succession of lettuce too but not too successfully.
I am looking forward to my first cup of chamomile flower tea.  I have run out of gas for my stove so I will have to go and get some more before I can boil the water.  That is my next job.
Webb's Wonderful Lettuce.
I like these cabbage lettuce especially the blanched bit on the inside.
Florence Fennel
The fennel is growing well which is more than can be said for the lettuce.
Poor lettuce and Asparagus pea
The lettuce has been decimated by slugs and snails.  The asparagus pea has germinated well and is growing on now.
Finally, the celeriac is growing without damage from slugs and snails at the moment.

So this is what the allotment is like at the moment.  The rain needs to stop so that I can tidy it up a little.  Apart from that I will continue to harvest what I can.  
All the very best.

1 comment:

  1. That's a nice plot you have there, it's my first year growing this year, just some chillies and tomatoes in a cheap argos flower house. I've spent a bundle on compost and perlite and other stuff tho. You are a dedicated man, them hugelkultur trenches seem like hard work, i had to put in 18 new concrete fence posts in last month and i was in bits. Keep up the good work mate.