This is a working allotment not an exhibition allotment and must provide family and friends with a good contribution to their diet. I do not grow to save money, although I undoubtedly do, but to provide a good, wholesome range of vegetables some of which would be hard to find in the shops. For example how often do you buy Florence fennel in the shops? I have two rows of twenty plants that will last for a number of months.
It has been a particularly foul year this year and lots of things have not grown very well. There has been a lot of water on the allotment. New springs have bubbled up all over the allotment - thankfully all of them on paths. The water logging held a lot of plants back and there seemed to be no growth during June at all.
Having an 'organic' allotment meant that slugs and snails have taken quite a toll of vegetables. They have ruined some of the cauliflowers, cabbages and lettuce. Having said this, I have grown far too many and could not have eaten them all anyway.
I am up against growers that are not particularly sympathetic to the organic ideal and use a variety of different artificial chemicals. However, I knew this when I entered the competition so I cannot complain. I do think that there should be a separate competition for truly organic growers.
I don't really mind if there is some for me and then some for wild life.
|Pea tops on the compost heap.|
The worm bin needs cleaning out and resetting. I think that the tap is clogged up and liquid is not coming out as fast as it used to. Not just me then.
|Rather untidy compost heap|
|Potatoes and pumpkin on compost heap|
|This is the quagmire alongside the allotment.|
I expect that everyone had a difficult time over the past three months with all the rain we have been having. This is the track way with running water flowing down it. The water comes out of the ground in several places on the allotment and this is why I have raised it up so high. Drainage pipes, soak aways and land drains were all overwhelmed by the amount of water.
The water has stopped flowing now because of the warmer weather but, if we have any more rain, it will start again. It is often very wet like this during the winter but I have never seen it like this in the summer.
The comfrey seems to like all this rain and keeps growing. I will have to harvest it again soon. I had brushed this path very carefully for the competition but it has gotten very dirty due to the water on the track way.
The comfrey, nettles and sweet cicely are put into the butts to rot down and form a rich black tea like liquid. You can see it dripping out of the right hand butt into the tub. I store the liquid in the left hand butt because it has a tap and it is easier to put comfrey liquid into a watering can.
I don't measure out how much I put into the watering can but I think that it should be used in the same proportions as tomato liquid fertiliser.
|Comfrey needs to be harvested again|
|Comfrey leaves rotting down in one of the butts.|
|Little apple tree|
Although you need to be very careful with applying this to the ground because it is very high in nitrogen, it is a very good manure. It must be treated like chicken manure but half the amount should be applied. Most people leave it in compost bins for a year before they use it and this is not a bad policy. The pigeon people bring it in these paper bags but the manure is so powerful that the bags begin to rot quite quickly. I just leave the manure in the bags and let it all decompose together.
|Too much pigeon manure and more came today.|
|Where the red Duke of York were|
I always work with at least one tub by my side for weeds, stones or other unwanted debris.
Are the brown patches on the potato leaves blight?
|Are they planted a little too close together?|
|Latah tomatoes have really suffered|
|Rhubarb suffering due to water logging.|
|Good crop of raspberries.|
|Cucumber climbing up the support|
|Good but they could have been better|
|Squashes and courgettes|
Tucked in between the squashes and courgettes is a marrow. The squashes did not grow at all during the cold wet weather but now they are romping away. It is amazing what a little warmth will do. No flowers on them at the moment but I always live in hopes. Several courgettes have already been harvested. Lots of flowers but no marrows as yet.
|The courgette plants are beginning to get quite large.|
I can still get past the courgettes to sit in my chair. I have run out of gas for my stove though so I cannot make any chamomile tea. I just make do with ordinary tea out of a flask.
|Shed is a little untidy at the moment.|
|The pumpkin is considering whether to take over the world |
The pumpkin has lots of flowers now and a few very small pumpkins. I will look forward to my pumpkin pie and pumpkin soup.
|Sweet pea 'Gwendoline' before layering|
|Sweet pea 'Anniversary' before layering.|
To say that the sweet peas have not had a good year would be an understatement. They have been a disaster. Poor old things are trying to give a good show but they are struggling. I have layered them all now and given them some comfrey liquid fertiliser. They should give me a few more flowers for cutting. They do look a lot better for being layered.
|Cobra French climbing beans?|
These French beans are from saved seed and are not all Cobra. As if I am bothered.
|Various runner beans|
Again saved seeds from several varieties have given me a variety of different coloured flowers. Lots of flowers but no beans.
I have been cropping the blackberries for about a week now. They have been lovely and more to come.
I have taken the netting off the brassicas now because the pigeons will not feed on them when they get this big. The nets were taken off so that I could get in and weed.
I am hoping that the winter cauliflowers will produce cauliflowers earlier next year. I had to wait until June this year before I could crop last years ones. They should really be cropped in April and May.
Cabbages have been eaten by the slugs and snails. I will have to clean these very carefully to get out all the molluscs. I had a really good crop of summer cauliflowers this year. I have harvested them all now and frozen them. They were growing on the Hugelkultur hot bed and this did not seem to have affected them adversely.
|Cauliflowers and swedes|
I have another row of cauliflowers but I am not expecting them to do very well. The swedes on the other hand are producing some big roots. I will probably plant grazing rye where I have taken out the cauliflowers.
The kohlrabi is starting to get big now. According to 'Real Seeds' these kohlrabi grow quite large and can be stored for a long time.
|Kohlrabi with swedes behind.|
|Blackcurrants have stopped cropping now.|
|Oskar peas and broad beans|
|Early Onward row one|
|Early Onward row two|
The second row of Early Onward will probably fruit during the middle of August with the Hurst Green Shaft coming at the end of August or the beginning of September.
|Hurst Green Shaft|
|Trail of Tears Climbing Bean|
|Some of the carrots are pushing against the|
The netting will not be taken off the carrots until the autumn. Last year I took the net off in September and the carrots were infected with carrot root fly larvae.
The leaves and herbs keep on coming. I cannot keep up with the chamomile. I have planted far too much lettuce again this year but I have a cunning plan for next year...
What can I say? It has been a lousy year weather wise but I have still got a good crop and wide variety of different vegetables and fruit.