Sunday, 16 July 2017

Allotment photographs for July 2017 first post.

July is the month for harvesting and reaping the benefits of all the hard work  done earlier in the year. I have already filled the freezer with soft fruit and I will be making most of this into jam. The only disappointment this year were the raspberries.  I still think that they are affected by the raspberry blight and will probably need to be replaced - but not in the same soil.  Either I will have to dig out the soil and replace it with new from somewhere else on the allotment or not to plant them in this bed again.
Brussel Sprout plants under the netting.

The Brussel sprouts are growing quite large now showing that the broad bean green manure that was chopped and dropped under them has done some good.  The broad bean plants have begun to regrow and are forming their own canopy under the Brussels.  There is a little brassica white fly on some of the leaves but this is not serious and I have seen ladybird beetles crawling over the plants.
Dwarf kale, winter cauliflower and red cabbage under the
Although I planted all the brassicas two feet apart both ways they have filled the space and formed a canopy which excludes the light from weed seeds under the plants and prevents them from germinating.  These plants, together with the Brussels, will be in the soil for some time so I will leave them alone except for putting some shredding mulch around them.  They had a feed of comfrey liquid in June and this should suffice them without any additional applications.
Summer cauliflowers that will flower later in July and
The net wooden frames were given to me earlier in the year and I decided to put them over the cauliflowers.  The net has a one inch mesh and this is obviously not small enough because I have seen several cabbage white butterflies flying inside the frames.  How they get in I don't know but they can obviously get out as well because I don't see any in the photograph and I didn't take them out.  I will have to check the plants for eggs and caterpillars because I have seen some characteristic leaf damage.  Getting the frames off the plants and stored safely so I can weed and check for cabbage white caterpillars is a pain in the neck.  I put one on top of the other but they are very heavy and awkward to maneuver.  I will have to reconsider how to use these next year remembering that weeding, mulching and checking for caterpillars will have to be done.
I took the net off the calabrese to weed and mulch and did not cover them very well when I put the net back.  However, the pigeons do not seem to have taken any notice.  Either they don't like the taste of calabrese or the net is more effective than I thought it was going to be.  The plants are a not two feet apart but I had this many transplants and only this amount of ground to put them into that I thought I would squeeze them in.  They will be throwing up flowers fairly soon so I will keep checking because calabrese goes over very quickly.
Lollo rosso lettuce in the wooden frame.
Even though I have been harvesting the lollo rosso lettuces frequently, I still have quite a few left.  The frame is on a bed of almost neat woody shreddings I used last year covered with compost.  They have been watered once with comfrey liquid and I have scattered a few chicken manure pellets around them last month.  All they have had this month is rain and tap water.  I have not been cutting them and leaving the roots  to come again.  I think that I will start to do this now because these will come in for using during August.  However the aluminium cold frame is full of lettuce too.

Rhubarb next to the cold frames.
I was going to pick some of the rhubarb last week but completely forgot about it even though it has grown very large and is something quite difficult to miss.  I was just going to stew it with a little ginger and lemon juice and have it with some yoghurt.  This is Champagne rhubarb and does taste quite good even at this time of the year.  I am not going to eat too much of it though because it does have a little more oxalic acid in the stems this time of the year and I don't want kidney stones.
Bay trees alongside the greenhouse.
I find striking cuttings from bay trees very easy.  They throw up suckers with roots on them too.  So  I have quite a few plants.  I am pruning them to standard ball headed trees and I am nearly there with some of them.  I find that the harder you cut them back the better they look so this is what I do.  It is a bit late for cutting back hard now because they will produce a lot of new sappy growth that will not be able to ripen completely before the winter.  This wood is very susceptible to frosty weather in the winter.  I will just trim back the longest shoots but I will not compost them.  I will put them in a pot with some gravelly potting compost and see if I can generate some more plants.  

I have used up all the rainwater stored in the blue bin earlier in the month and the little rain we have had has not collected more than about ten centimeters at the bottom.  This means that I have been forced to use tap water to water the greenhouse and the hanging baskets.  I have not watered any of the other vegetables even through the very hot weather.  It indicates that the water conservation scheme I have designed on the allotment seems to be working. This uses mini swales, planting fruit trees and bushes on the mounds, mulching carefully with both compost and woody shreddings and harvesting hard surface run off.  
Blackcurrants under the netting.
These are the blackcurrants that I coppiced last year, cutting them down to about two or three inches from the soil surface.  They have cropped quite well this year but I expect them to do even better next year.  I am going to thin them out a little because they are too close together.  I will take out every other one so they will be about a meter apart.  The gooseberries had some berries on them but they are getting covered by the rhubarb.  I will have to move these to give them more room.  The raspberries in the background have not done very well at all this year.  
The pear tree is not leaning any more.
The pear tree is one that I inherited with the allotment.  Due to growing under the hedge, which was about 15 feet tall and as wide, it had a distinct leaning tower of Pisa syndrome.  However, it threw up several vertical water shoots low on the trunk.  I selected the best one of them and cut the top of the tree off just above it with a bow saw.  The top of the tree was Hugelkultured with  other woody material earlier in the year.  The water shoot has certainly grown well this year and is throwing up a lot of wood.  This will probably fruit next year.  No fruit this year.  

There is another empty blue bin here, even though it is collecting water from the store shed.  I have taken up the spinach and good king Henry that had gone to seed and hung it up in the shed to dry.  When it is crispy, I will put the seeds into brown envelopes with the name of the seeds written on the outside.  I wrote the name of the seed on slips of paper and put them inside the envelopes with the seed.  I forgot I did it and, when I took the seeds out, lost the names somehow.  Why I did this, I don't know when it is so easy to write on the outside of the envelopes.  

I put all my cuttings under the clematis.  
The one thing I find about striking cuttings is to leave them well alone for at least a growing season. The only way I can do this without poking them about to see if they have produced any roots is to hide them away under the clematis.  Then I forget about them until all the plants have died back. Then I am surprised by how many have survived when I eventually find them.  

Sunflowers and cherry tree by the path
I doubt that the sunflowers will grow as big as they did last year and although they were good to show off  about, it was quite a chore to compost them after they had gone over.  I have taken the net off the cherry tree a little prematurely because the pigeons have started to eat the leaves again.
Cherry leaves eaten by the pigeons.
I am amazed by the things that pigeons will eat.

Loganberry at the back of the store shed.
Purple hazel next to the storeshed.
Espaliered pear and apple

I have done some summer pruning but still need to do a lot more.  I was keeping as much wood as possible to fill in vacant spots throughout the tree.  The pear and the apple have fruited this year and there are quite a few fruit on them.  

Egremont Russet espalier not summer pruned completely

Espaliered Doyenne du Comice

The espaliers are not perfect but they are good enough for me.
Flowering runner beans.  

I planted a range of different runner beans this year.  I am going to try to increase the diversity of varieties so that if one of them does not do very well then maybe the others will be alright.  No beans on the plants yet though.
Tall  peas - mostly Alderman.
The tall peas have gone over now and I have picked quite a few and put them into the freezer.  It looks a little untidy because I have taken the nets off to pick the peas.  The nets are not only for the peas to climb up but also to keep the pigeons from eating the plants.  There is a variety of tall peas here.  Champion of England, Telephone,  Rosakrone and Alderman plus are all growing here.  I will leave the plants until they go yellow and dry off then collect any seed that I have not frozen.  After the small peas have not cropped very well again this year, I think that I will only grow tall peas next year.  

Onward peas.
These peas were sown straight into the soil and the germination was relatively good.  They have not grown very tall probably because of the hot weather and the fact that I have not watered them except for putting some comfrey liquid on them in June.  They have cropped quite well though and they are my best small peas.  There are still some still to be picked on these plants.
Climbing French beans 
The climbing French beans have not fruited yet.  They have put out some good flowers now so I expect to see pods soon.  These are all transplants from seeds sown in sectioned trays in the greenhouse.  

I forget which of the modern small peas this is but it has
not fruited as well as the Onward

I probably planted these rows of peas too close together but they have not produced as many pods as the tall peas and the Onward.

More poor pea varieties.

However the broad beans have grown very tall.
As I have picked quite a few broad beans from the brassica bed, most of these seeds will be kept for sowing next year both for cropping and for green manure.  These plants will be dug into the soil when I have taken off all the pods.
Gooseberries alongside the car park path.
Although it is not really very clear, there are four big gooseberry plants under the comfrey and mint.  They were not netted in the spring and I have not got one gooseberry on the plants.  Just shows  you the importance of netting the soft fruit unless you like feeding the pigeons. I have cut back the comfrey to use on the compost heap but there is still  a  lot left. 
New windrow compost.
I don't think that allotmenteers have the luxury of being able to carefully select the ingredients of their compost heaps.  This was certainly true for my new windrow compost heap.  I went on the course run at At Old Lands, Dingestow Court, Monmouthshire with the land gardeners Henrietta Courtauld and Bridget Elworthy. An excellent course but I wish that I could use hay and animal manures to make compost.  

This compost was made with chopped up blackcurrant prunings, annual weeds from the allotment, loads of comfrey, clematis prunings, calendula plants that had gone over and about five barrow loads of strimmed weeds from an abandoned allotment.  I found a dead rat in the comfrey liquid bin so buried this in the middle of the heap.  Probably totally dangerous because of the germs associated with rats but I'm hoping that the heap will get hot enough to destroy anything that might cause a problem.  The heap was very well watered with diluted comfrey liquid and some of the old compost was added just for good luck.  The whole lot was covered with a horrible red tarpaulin that someone gave me and left for two days.  It got very hot and was steaming when I turned it two days later. Really the first time that I have got compost this hot.  I have turned it again after two days and I must admit it did not seem to be as hot.  However, it is obvious that the material in the heap is decomposing.  I will keep turning it whether it is hot or not every two days like I do with the Dalek bins.  After pruning the raspberries I will probably have enough to make another windrow.  I would like to empty the Dalek bins and store them away before I start a new windrow.  
Dalek bins.
The Dalek bins are full of fairly well made compost.  Some of it has been sieved and put onto the  allotment between the runner beans and tall peas.  Quite a lot of leachate has come out of the bins and the windrow but as the compost area is at the top of the allotment the leachate will soak into and flow down the slope and into the grow beds.
Sieved compost on the allotment.

I will continue to sieve the Dalek compost but put the sievings onto the new windrow rather than back into the Dalek.

Gooseberry fan trained onto the compost pallets.
Although this gooseberry was strictly pruned to a fan, it produced a lot of gooseberries.  It was carefully covered with a net earlier in the year and this kept the birds off it.  It has thrown up a lot of new wood most of which will be pruned out.  I will use some of it to replace old wood and make it a better shaped fan.  
Salix alba vitellina
I will take off these shoots from the Salix to add to my will sculpture hedge down the side of the carpark.  Quite a few of last years cuttings have taken and are growing well.  They will be transplanted later in the autumn.  I will try to pleach them as well but all my efforts to pleach have not been successful.  I have high hopes for the willow sculpture though.
More climbing and dwarf beans.
There are some of the heritage French and runner beans here but I cannot for the life of me remember which is which.  I know that some of them are "Trail of Tears" and I will have to look at the seed to find out which.  The Opal plum behind them has got some plumbs on it because I threw a net over the top of it.  Other plums on the allotment have been completely denuded of leaves and fruit because of the pigeons.
French beans and mange tout peas
I have harvested all the mange tout peas now and I have to admit they stretched to two meals.  I think that they were a little overshadowed by the broad beans.  Having said this the dwarf French beans have thrived.  The broad beans, mange tout and French beans are all on my home made compost.  Seems to agree with the broad beans - but also with the sweet corn.  
Perennial legumes planted along the track way.

Lupins and laburnum
The perennial legumes lupin and laburnum have been planted alongside the track way at the top of the allotment.  The exudates and turn over of fine roots will add nitrogen to the soil and this will be washed down the slope into the grow beds.  

The squash are growing over the lupins.
May queen apple graft which I thought I had

Difficult to show you how high the sweet corn
has grown.  
I have grown the sweet corn with squash and climbing French beans again and the sweet corn is about five feet tall now.  The Sorbus has got in the way a little bit.
This gives a bit better idea of how big they are.
Lots of people have said that the three sisters does not work but this must give the lie to that.  The sweet corn is bigger than this now and has flowered.  No squash fruit on the squashes but the French beans are up to the top of the sweet corn.  They will be flowering soon.  The bed had about five barrow loads of compost as a mulch and the sweet corn and squash transplants were planted into this.  The French bean seeds were added to the sweet corn holes.  The whole lot were mulched with a thin layer of woody shreddings.
I put the courgettes by the side of the squashes.
The three sisters have had no watering except when they were planted out.  I did water the carrots though.
Carrots under the enviromesh.
I sowed the carrots under the mesh to keep carrot root fly away.  All the edges of the mesh are covered with woody shreddings.  The carrots had quite a bit of the compost too but I have not put woody shreddings between them.  
Globe artichoke or is it a cardoon?
The potatoes have gone over mainly because of the very hot weather and me not watering them.  This is where I did the Hugelkultur trenches during the winter.  I don't think that I added enough green to the logs and brushwood.  It is good to know that maybe this should be added next time.  However, I did add lots of compost and top soil to this bed so I thought that I had it covered.  The crop of potatoes is good if smaller than I usually get and I am already eating them.

Potatoes have gone over due to drought.  
The allotment is far too big to water with watering cans so I don't do it.  These potatoes have only been rain fed, although I know that they would still be green if I had watered.  How many potatoes can I eat anyway?  Well this is about a third of the allotment and I will try to post all the other photographs in a new post tomorrow.  

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