Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Allotment photographs for July 2017 third post.

Still more photographs of the allotment.
Sweet Peas 

I have left the sweet peas to grow where they will now that they have reached the top of the canes.  I could have kept taking out side shoots and tendrils but I did not have time to do this properly.  They are from seeds I kept from last year.  I think that I will buy some new seed and plant varieties in rows next year.  The plants grew much better this year.  I sowed them much later than I usually do - in March and planted them out late to miss the flea beetle damage.  Although the soil is quite fertile, I don't think that the right Rhizobium bacteria has colonised the ground. The plants are not as good as those on my old allotment.  I reconsidered the effort I was putting in to produce four and five flower stems and it was not really worth it for cutting for the house.  I don't exhibit so it is not quite so important.  I have shown to myself that I can grow really good outdoor sweet peas and that is all I wanted to do.

They are a break crop, flowers for the house and a green manure; all of which are of great use for the allotment.

However, I might put in a little more effort next year.  I will trench the rows, use compost and woody chippings as a mulch and possibly use some hoof and horn to fertilize them.  The hoof and horn is very slow acting nitrogen fertilizer.  This will provide a little nitrogen but also allow Rhizobium to colonize the roots of the sweet peas without being inhibited.

I have started to collect some dahlia plants 
One of the plants I liked to grow to exhibition standard when I was younger was the dahlia.  I have started a new collection with the five planted here.  One of them was eaten back by slugs but it seems to have recovered.  I am not sure whether it will flower though.  I got some seed from a strikingly red Canterbury bells I found on  the waste ground at Shrugborough Hall when I was gardening there. I am hoping that the seedlings will be as good as the parent.  They are planted around the dahlias.  Lots of borage here which has self seeded.  It has been very good for the bees and other pollinators.

Leeks under the enviromesh.
There are few people still bothering to cover their leeks on the allotment site.  It would seem that Phytomyza gymnostoma  is not as prevalent pest as it has been.  I have leeks that are obviously infected but most are very healthy and so are other people's unprotected ones throughout the site.

I will continue to cover the leeks until I am sure that it is not going to cause the leeks problems.  I took the covers off during the summer last year and did not put them back on soon enough to prevent the fly from laying eggs so this year the covers will stay on.  The flies emerge at the end of summer and lay eggs through September and October and these are the ones that cause the damage in leeks.
A weedy patch of leeks.

This shows what would happen to the allotment if I did not weed and mulch the ground.  There are lots of weeds under the scaffold netting because I have not taken it off to remove them.  I need to do it fairly quickly so that they are not infected by leek miner fly.  As I spend little time on weeding the allotment because I have strategies to suppress their germination, people think that I do not have a weed problem.  I am not daft enough to think that there are few weed seeds on the allotment.  There are lots but I try to suppress them with mulches and getting the vegetables to form a shade producing canopy.  However, the weed seeds are there just waiting to germinate as this photograph shows.

I got an email from someone whose new allotment had been reinfected with couch grass after having to leave it for four weeks.
Well, you can't leave the allotment for four weeks and expect to come back to a pristine allotment. Weeds grow, get over it.  Gardening consists of 99% weeding and is hard boring work.  That is why we try lots of strategies to reduce the amount of weeding we have to do.  The paths alongside the leek beds are covered in a thick layer of woody shreddings.  This helps but is not the final remedy.  I find that it is a very long way along the track though.

These leeks are quite large and could be used now but I have so many other vegetables that it would be a waste to use them now.  They will just get bigger during the summer and will resist the frost so I might as well leave them well alone, except for weeding them, until I need to use them during the autumn and winter when there is little else.
Onions under the scaffold netting.
All the onions are falling over now indicating that they are ready for drying and stringing up.  There is no longer any use for the net and this can be taken off now.  When the garlic and shallots have dried and been stored away, I will have room on the shed roof to dry these off even more.  The drier they are the longer they will store.
Clary sage, lemon balm, rosemary, mint etc alongside
the path.  The apple is Winter Density.  
The giant Victoria rhubarb has not recovered from the move during last autumn.  However, they are beginning to show their true colours and producing two to three foot petioles.
Giant Victoria Rhubarb
The potatoes have gone over the most where the top of the plum and pear tree were buried in a Hugelkultur.  It is similar to what happened on the bed on the other side of the path.  The potatoes are fine if a little smaller than last years.  They have not liked the really hot weather, particularly as I have not watered them at all.  I am hoping that the Hugelkultur will mature a little more during the summer and winter, rotting down and making a water sponge.  When the potatoes have been taken out, dried and stored in the large paper bags, I will cover this bed with rows of clover for the winter.
Kestrel potatoes
This redcurrant and the white currant beside it have been fan trained and this pruning procedure still produces an abundance of currants.  They are later than the other currants on the allotment and this means that I have no room to store these in the freezer.  I will just have to start to make jam or jelly.  This has shown me just how successful fan and espalier training can be.
Red currants
I counted five immature black birds trying to get to the currants.  Netting them has shown me just how many they take each year - I don't usually net them.

Fan trained redcurrant.

The white currant next to the red currant.
The sorrel is ready to make some soup with and that is what I am going to do for the weekend.  I have not thinned the parsnips because I don't like the really big roots.  These will come in for vegetables during the winter.
Sorrel and parsnips
I am not sure that the construction over the carrots has been particularly successful.  It is falling apart and there are lots of holes in it.
Carrot protection 
There are carrots in the frame and they are growing well.  These frames were given to me at the beginning of the year so I used them more as an experiment than anything else.  The wood has really rotted away in places so I will ether add it to the compost heap or bury it in a Hugelkultur.  The ripped scaffold netting will have to be taken to the tip.  
Beetroot and chard
I have just started to harvest the beetroot and having them in salads.  I have been using the leaves of both the beetroot and chard in salads but they are getting a little  large for that now.  Not really bothered about having chard when it is this big so I will take it out and resow for the autumn.  I have left the chard because I was going to see if I could keep the seed but this is a bad idea and I should wait until the plants flower next year before taking seed.  I do not want to select for chard that bolts in the first year.
Second sowing of rocket and spinach
Has lots of rocket and spinach for salads.  I have sown some more but they really needed to be watered regularly.  The germination of spinach is very erratic.  The florence fennel is growing well and I should have some soon.
Some radish and lupins
Radish and mizuna growing together.  Not sure that I am going to get much of either.  I am growing the lupins as perennial nitrogen fixers.  And they look quite good too.  

So that is the allotment in July.  Everything has grown well this year despite the very hot weather and me not watering.  


  1. Hello Anthony, It's your fan, Barbee, from Terrell, Texas.
    Please forgive me for getting personal but how is your brother in Houston? Is there anything that we can do to help? Thanks.
    (E-Mail me if there is.)

  2. Hi Barbee sorry I haven't got back to you. As far as I know, my brother is fine. I am not sure whether he is in Huston at the moment. His wife has said she is fine at the moment.