Friday, 28 June 2013

June allotment photographs

During June most plants have begrudgingly begun to grow.  The very cold  spring is behind us now but everything in the allotment is at least two weeks behind last year.  However, this is an improvement from last month when everything was about six weeks behind. It wasn't worth taking any pictures because everything would have looked exactly the same as in early May.   It is amazing how quickly plants grow and catch up when the weather eventually warms up.

The new allotment is south facing and has a large protective hedge around it which means that plants were not quite so badly set back by the cold weather.  I have used this allotment to plant things that I had over from the old allotment. This means that they were planted later than those on the old allotment, yet they have caught up and sometimes surpassed the plants on the old allotment.  The first set of photographs are of the new allotment which was double dug during the winter.  It is a little untidy because I have not worked out the plats yet and I am trying to discover whether I have any disease in the soil such as clubroot.

Scarlet Emperor at the front and Moonlight runner
bean  at the back

The runner beans have grown particularly well.  There is a little bindweed creeping in from the trackway but this is controllable.  I have planted the runner beans on the north side of the allotment to give a little more protection to the allotment when they eventually grow up the canes.  I am more interested in the crop of Moonlight runner beans than the Scarlet Emperor.  I have not grown Moonlight before.

Some Scarlet Emperor and Painted Lady runner beans 
The Painted Lady runner beans did not germinate very well because of the cold weather.  This meant that I only had about five plants.  I made these cane tripods for them and the remains of the Scarlet Emperors to grow up.  They are growing on what used to be the path between the two halves of the allotment.  I am not bothered about having a path here so I have dug it over and used it for planting. I have covered the other half of the allotment with the carpets that I found on the allotment earlier in the year.  I will be digging this over in the late summer and autumn so that I can plant it up next year.

Kestrel second early potatoes.  
I didn't really have enough space on the old allotment to grow the second early potatoes so I have planted them all on the new allotment.  They seem to be growing as well here as they did on the old allotment.  The ground was triple dug and sieved with pigeon and horse manure being mixed in.  A cover green manure crop of tares and rye were sown to cover it during the winter and this was dug in about two weeks before the seed potatoes were planted.  Most of this growth has occurred during June.

There is very little evidence of the hedge bindweed
that was prevalent in this area before it was dug.
Another reason for getting the new allotment was to be able to grow more winter brassicas.  I wanted to grow kale, broccoli and winter cabbages but had no room in the old allotment.
Various winter brassicas.  
 I also had some Ragged Jack heritage kale seed and wanted to see how they would fare in the allotment.  As you can see all the brassicas planted have done particularly well.  

There is a flock of pigeons on the allotment so all
brassicas have to be carefully netted to prevent pigeons
devastating them.   
This ground was triple dug and sieved.  A little pigeon manure was added but nothing else, yet the brassicas seem to be growing very well despite the lack of added nutrients.  The ground was very overgrown with native wildflowers and had not been used for several years and this might have contributed to the success of the brassicas.  Part of this area was covered by the shed and its lean to shelter.  I moved the shed into a corner of the allotment and demolished the lean to.  This gave me much more area for planting.

A mixture of carrots with Ragged Jack kale.
I had sown four rows of carrots on the old allotment and still had quite a few left over.  I put all the seeds into one packet, shook them up and planted them in one row on the new allotment.  While the carrots on the old allotment failed completely to germinate, they all germinated here - as you can see.  I have replanted three times to get some carrots on the old allotment.

The carrots are carefully covered in enviromesh to prevent attack from carrot root fly.  These seedlings are endangered because they are so close to the hedge where carrot root fly can be protected and rest.   I have not thinned out the carrots because I am going to let them grow on until I can use the thinnings for salad carrots.  

Onions affected by Phytomyza gymnostoma 
Some of the onions are more susceptible to Phytomyza gymnostoma than others.  I think that these will  recover.  Phytomyza has not been so prevalent this year probably because of the cold spring, however it is still affecting some of my onions.

The great plans of mice and men can come to nothing if there is a flock of pigeons intent on destroying every living pea within the allotment site.  

Using concrete reinforcement wire to support
the peas.
I have used concrete reinforcement wire to support the peas because it had approximately 5 cm holes and would prevent the pigeons reaching the peas.  Well, I have learnt that I need smaller holes  to prevent the birds from reaching the pea seedlings.  I am not really bothered the pigeons have eaten them because these peas are ones left over from planting on the old allotment. I have seven good rows of peas on the old allotment.   This reinforcing wire was rolled up on the new allotment so I thought I would put it to good use, however  possibly not for the peas next year.
Left over dwarf French beans
These French beans have done much better than the row I put in on the old allotment.  The cold easterly wind and slugs had severely set back the old allotment French beans.  Here on the new allotment they were more sheltered and less affected by slugs.
These alliums are not so affected by
Phytomyza gymnostoma.
 I sowed several different types of onion and they all came.  I planted as many as I could on the old allotment but still had quite a few over so I planted them here.  I did not label them and I can't remember what varieties they are.  However, they are doing very well.  So are the parsnips.
 Under the netting are some left over cabbages
from the old allotment 
Under the hedge at the back of the allotment were several piles of fairly good soil.  It was probably compost but it was hard to determine under all the weeds.  These mounds of soil were sieved and raked over this area of the allotment.  It seems to have encouraged the plants to grow very well.
Cynara cardunculus but I doubt whether
I will ever eat any.  
I was given the artichoke and I am going to grow it on just to see how it develops.  I have never grown Cynara cardunculus before so it will be good to see how well it does.
I am very proud of my first successful
graft of Ribston Pippin on an M9 rootstock

I have planted my grafted Ribston Pippin on the new allotment.  You can see where the graft was made because the grafting tape is still in place.  This is a Ribston Pippin from an Attingham Park tree.  This is a heritage apple raised from seed planted in 1707 at Ribston Hall in Yorkshire.  It is said to be one of the parents of Cox's Orange Pippin.

I think that if I were to do it again - and I will, I would make the graft a little lower on the M9 stem.  I have kept the two grafted M9 rootstocks where the graft failed and will use them again next year.   I have also been given another M9 rootstock so I will be able to do three grafts next year if they survive.  
M9 rootstock planted in the new allotment.  
Salix alba vitellina grown from a cutting
The Salix will grow into a 40ft tree if I let it.  I will not let it.  I will cut it back and use the prunings to make willow sculptures.I have some Pyracantha rogersiana  seedlings to plant in this area to grow on.  These were grown from collected seed and stratified over the winter. I will use these to make a hedge to divide up the plats of the allotment.
Sorbus vilmorinii grown from seed.  
I will grow these Sorbus on and then pot them up before planting one in my daughter's garden and the rest elsewhere.
Some of the St Julien rootstock with the
unsuccessful apricot grafts.  
I will attempt to make some more grafts using the St. Julien rootstock next year using the Victoria Plum on the allotment as sion.  
Victoria plum

Summer raspberries with more dwarf French
beans in the background.

The allotment hedge on the south side of the allotment.
I have cut the hedge back very hard this year because it was overshadowing a lot of the allotment.  The hedge was making the apple tree and pear tree lean quite severely. When I took over the allotment they were completely shaded by the Crataegus monogyna hedge and covered in bindweed.   
My leaning little apple tree.  
I will probably have to support this apple tree because it is covered in fruit.  The area behind the tree is the late summer and autumn digging project. 
Pear tree by the shed.
This tree is not leaning so badly but you can see how far out the hedge grew.  I have gained a great deal of growing area just by cutting the hedge back.  

So this is the new allotment and it is coming along quite well.  I am using this allotment as an experimental space as well as an overflow from the old allotment.  I will use it to grow on seeds collected from wherever, cuttings and graftings.   

The old allotment is not doing so badly; now everything is starting to grow. I am hoping that the old allotment will do well in the Wolverhampton allotment competition this year.    I am attempting to grow everything to a very high standard but being thwarted at every turn.  At the moment I am having a war with the fox and her two cubs.  They seem to like to lie on the barrier netting.

Shallots and garlic
The shallots and garlic are going over now.  I will leave them in the ground until they have died right back and the bulbs have had time to ripen.  They have done fairly well but I would have liked to have larger ordinary garlic.  I used my own garlic from last year and buying in new garlic bulbs would have been better.
The elephant garlic was given to me by Mick and Ed and this has done particularly well. All of these alliums had a enviromesh netting cover over them from planting to the middle of June to protect them from Phytomyza gymnostoma.  

At first I thought that the shallots were infected with
Phytomyza gymnostoma but they were just going over
This is the replacement soil from a farmer's field and, although I have added a great deal of organic matter, it still looks very stony.  It has a lot of clay in it and this makes it very heavy to work.  It is growing things quite well though so I cannot complain.
I have used the plastic bottles to keep the onion leaves upright - or that was the theory.  It has worked to some extent but the sharp edges of the bottles have damaged some of the leaves.  These onions are way behind where they should be at this time of the year even though they were planted around January/ February time.  They were covered with an enviromesh barrier against Phytomyza gymnostoma  when they were planted out and the net has only just been taken off.  There are one or two onions that are affected by this insect but the majority are growing away well. All these alliums will have been taken out and stored well before the next generation of Phytomyza gymnostoma are laying eggs.  
Onions in plastic bottles
I am going to leave the bottles on the onions for a while longer.  Hopefully I will get some larger onions this year.  
Leeks under the netting barrier to prevent
infection by Phytomyza gymnostoma.
It comes to something when you have to cover your leeks to prevent them being infected by insects.  They were the vegetable that I could plant and leave on its own to get on with growing.  Now I have to molly coddle it.  The leeks are growing quite well under the netting but it is a bind having to remove it to weed every so often.  The fox and her cubs are trying to help by digging it up every night.  I am going to leave the netting on until the leeks are harvested.  

Bush tomatoes Totem and Latah
I have planted the outdoor tomatoes in ring culture pots to keep the fruit off the ground.  Although the plants are very small, they are producing tomatoes.
Oca and ridge cucumber in the cold frame
This is the best oca I have grown.  I hope that there are plenty of tubers because I am going to keep them for next year's plants. The cucumbers are doing well and beginning to climb up the wire mesh supports. They were being eaten by slugs until I watered Nemaslug nematodes around this area.

Ridge cucumbers
I have not made these mesh supports but scavenged them from a skip.  The wood is very rotten but they still do their job 
Squashes, courgette and marrow.
Sweet corn  at the back.
Second sowing of curbits because I lost the last ones during the cold March we had.  They are way behind where they should be.  This area has had two applications of Nemaslug nematodes to combat the slugs.  There has been no slug damage on the curbits at all up to now.  
Mammoth onions
Mac gave me these Mammoth onions to grow on.  I am hoping to get them quite big in the next few months. 
Untidy comfrey bed
I have cut most of the comfrey and put it into the butts to rot down.  It always looks untidy when I have cropped the comfrey.  I haven't taken a photograph of the pumpkins and sweet corn next to the alliums but they are doing well.
 I am definitely going to train the grape to a cordon style this year.  You can just see it climbing up the cucumber supports.  I need to put some wires up and  I will have to do this for the grape on the new allotment too.  I thought that I had killed the grape at the new allotment because I had transplanted it from this allotment in an old bucket with no drainage holes.  It stayed in there for the whole winter and got very water logged.  Yet it has sprouted, grown and sent out big branches.

The new summer raspberries.  
If you replant raspberries in the same soil in which previous raspberries have grown they can suffer from replant disease or soil sickness in a similar way to roses.  I wanted to replace my summer fruiting raspberries so I removed a two foot trench of soil, two spits deep and replaced it with fresh soil from elsewhere on the allotment.  I planted the new raspberries putting mychorrhizal fungi in the planting holes and watering them in with dilute comfrey liquid.  There is no evidence of replant disease and these new plants seem to be doing exceedingly well.  Lovely bright green foliage and lots of fruit on the branches.  I will take a crop off them this year because they are so healthy.

Old summer raspberries.
The old summer raspberries are covered in fruit and lots of bumblebees.  Mainly Bombus terrestris with its brown thorax and white tip to its abdomen.  No honey bees though.  

File:Bumblebee October 2007-3a.jpg
Bombus terrestris from Wikipedia
 The Cobra climbing French beans have been severely affected by the cold easterly wind in April and together with a lot of slug damage remained stubbornly hunched in a semi dormant huddle until the beginning of June.  Now they are half way up the canes.  It is amazing how much growth they can put on in only a week.   The broad beans are on the left of this picture and are growing quite large.  They are threatening to overshadow the French beans.  The broad beans are an exhibition variety that I have not planted before so I don't know how high they grow.
Cobra French beans with Anniversary
sweet peas 

After a pitiful start at the beginning of the year the sweet peas have woken and shooting up the canes.  With a little sunshine they can put on 10 cm. of growth in one day.  These plants have had their tendrils and side shoots removed.  They are tied to the canes using wire hoops.
Jilly sweet peas producing cream flowers

Millenium sweet peas just starting to produce
their reddish flowers.  
I have ten rows of sweet peas.
I think that there are about 15 varieties of sweet pea planted.  Most of them have started to flower now but there are only two flowers to the stem on many of them.  I like to see at least four flowers to each stem.  I am giving them dilute comfrey liquid once a week to encourage flowering.

Scarlet Emperor runner beans on the right
and Aintree on the left
Aintree runner beans on the right and
Scarlet  Emperor on the left
The runner beans are nearly to the top of the canes now and beginning to flower.  I put some fleece and open weave fabric around the canes to protect the plants from the cold easterly wind we had during March and April.  It has given them some protection and prevented them from being scorched by the wind.  I have used Nemaslug nematodes along the row to protect them from slug damage.  The runner beans are getting a weekly dose of dilute comfrey liquid.
Cabbages and cauliflowers under the
debris netting
These brassicas are getting a little squashed
so I will probably take the netting off.  

These are the large Brunswick cabbages
The All The Year Round Cauliflowers
I have used the debris netting to protect the brassicas from pigeons and cabbage white butterflies (Pieris brassicae).  As you can see it has helped to produce some very healthy plants.  I am loath to take the nets off because having little green caterpillars in cauliflower heads means that they cannot be used.

Swedes, kohlrabi and turnip
I have left the swedes, kohlrabi and turnips for too long before thinning them out.  I have thinned them now and they look a lot less overcrowded.  

Romanesco cauliflowers, red cabbage,
ordinary cauliflower and calabrese under the
Calabrese and curly kale

Netting over the kale and Brussel sprouts

Brussel sprouts

Aalsmeer winter cauliflowers
 All the brassicas are netted against the pigeons.  I have found that they do not eat the brassicas when they get larger but this year the birds seem to be intent on eating brassicas regardless of size.  I had some heritage winter cauliflowers planted next to the path but they were eaten by slugs.  The replacements are Aalsmeer. The other winter brassicas have been planted at the new allotment because I have run out of space at the old allotment.

Alderman peas - with some heritage ones
towards the back.

Douce provence peas 

Early Onward first sowing

Early Onward second sowing

Early Onward third sowing

Lincoln peas

Progress No.9 peas

Pea plants

I am hoping to get the Alderman peas to over 6 feet tall.  They are about five feet at the moment.  I expect the other rows of peas to get to about three foot six or more.  The Douce Provence peas are just coming into fruiting.  Last year I had cropped most of them by now.  The peas are surrounded by the chicken wire and I pick by going in over the top of the wire.

The strawberries have not ripened yet probably because they are shaded during the afternoon by a big hedge.  It is Wimbledon week and I am usually cropping quite a few by now.  Hopefully they will ripen next week.  Lots on them.
Although there is a lot of growth, the blackcurrants
have not fruited very well.

I am hoping these black berry flowers
will turn into berries.  
Not a good fruiting year for my blackcurrants.  Two plants are heavily laden with fruit but the others do not have many at all.  The ones that have fruited are Ben Sarek. 

Chard and perpetual spinach on the 'leafs' bed.
The 'leafs' bed is producing crops now.  I am cropping the chard, perpetual spinach, annual spinach, lettuce and bulb fennel.  I have taken out the annual spinach because it was going to seed and resown with nasturtiums.  I will sow  spinach with rocket, lambs lettuce, turnip and kohlrabi when I take out the early Swift potatoes.

The beetroot  are a little crowded but they always seem to produce good roots so I think that I will leave them.  I will thin out the Hamburg parsley because thinning gave me much bigger roots last year.  They were almost the size of an average parsnip.   The third sowing of carrots has actually germinated and is growing quite well.  However the fox thinks that this is a good place to lounge about and seems to like to lay on the netting. I have had to reconstruct the netting several times.

Early Potatoes
The potato plat will be sown with a green manure cover crop after the potatoes have been harvested.  They are already flowering so they will be forming large tubers soon.

The allotments are looking healthy and native wildflower free so they just need a little hoeing and hand weeding until the vegetables make a canopy and shade out the weeds.

It is amusing to listen to other allotmenteers complaining that they had weeded and cleared a patch of their allotment but, when they returned, it was covered with weeds again.  Getting frustrated with weeds growing is like getting upset that your beard keeps growing or your finger nails.  Most people accept that their hair will grow and a visit to the barber or hairdresser will have to be made fairly often.  All biological systems are the same.  Growth is one of the characteristics of life.  Weeds are going to grow and we just have to accept and plan for it.  Weeding is a major part of gardening that removes competition from the edible crops and  habitats for pests and diseases.  If you don't like weeding then you don't like gardening.  

I remove as many weeds as I can during April, May and June, which are the months when most weed seeds germinate.  This means that there are few weeds during the rest of the year.  Ephemerals, like chickweed (Stellaria media)   have several generations during a year which need to be watched out for and removed. 

This is the allotment in June... Roll on July.