Wednesday, August 16

A peek into the garden

Monday, August 14

Time to dig the potatoes and pick the beans.

At the beginning of last week I lifted all our onions and shallots. We always struggle to find somewhere to dry them. This year we constructed some makeshift drying tables using wire mesh and boxes which were positioned under our greengage trees. Of course it then decided to rain but at least the bulbs won't be sitting on damp soil and the trees will have afforded some protection.

Our rhubarb struggled in the prolonged, dry conditions so we gave it a good soak which revived it and its now on its second wind. 
7 August 
The thornless blackberry - Loch Ness is producing large juicy berries. I'm really happy that this replaced a previous thorny variety which fought back with venom when I tried to pick the fruits.
The blueberries are keeping up a steady supply. The fruit on our third bush is now ripening. The berries are plentiful and a good size so it is a pity that I don't know the variety.
12 August
All three varieties of runner beans - Celebration, Lady Di and Firestorm are producing well. Two of the climbing French beans - Cobra and Cosse Violette are also providing a harvest. The yellow Coronna d' Oro is so far beanless although it is flowering. Cosse Violette is just starting to come into production but Cobra was the first of our beans to 'fruit' and is still going strong. We had a freezing session after picking a box full of beans.
I am continuing to pick peas on every visit to the plot. Our second and third sown rows are now in production. So far none of the pods have harboured any unwelcome guests.
Some fruits have harvested themselves. Shortly after photographing the fig below, it fell from the tree and shortly after that it was on our plates. We shared it of course.
A couple of peaches fell off the tree in the greenhouse. Fortunately they didn't spoil so we enjoyed them too. The taste  indicated that we should maybe start harvesting from the tree.
The tomatoes in our garden greenhouse have started to ripen. Last week we picked some Gardeners' Delight ...
... and Sungold.
The Sungold fruits tend to split but it doesn't stop us enjoying the taste.

We picked the first of the apples from our apple hedge. We think that the variety is Discovery and the ones peeping from behind are likely to be Golden Delicious.
A few berries were added to our fruit salads - the first few all Gold raspberries and probably the last of the Malwina strawberries with a few alpine strawberries thrown in to the mix

Martyn has started digging up the potatoes. The ones shown below are Casablanca. We haven't watered any of our potatoes all season so they have had to cope with very dry conditions. Despite this Casablanca produced a good crop of damage free potatoes.
In the photo below the top box of potatoes are Amour which also produced a damage free crop. The lower box Orla did have some nibbling slug damage but still produced a reasonable crop of usable potatoes
           13 August
We have moved on from the Oullins Gage plums and are now harvesting Victoria. So far no wasp activity - could my waspinators be working?
Next to the plums in the photo, taken on 13 August, is a punnet of Mannings greengages. Greengage's colouring belie their true nature. We usually associate green fruit with sharpness or a sour taste but greengages are  very sweet and delicious. 

The sweet peas are now in mass production mode. The batch below was just the flowers picked on Saturday. I am pleased that the stems are still very long as I've found that normally the stems shorten after the first few pickings.
The perennial and annual flower beds are also providing a plentiful supply of cut flowers. It's like being a kid in a sweet shop.
To complete our Harvest Monday roundup, Martyn put together a video showing the digging of the Casablance potatoes. Excuse the heavy breathing, he isn't worn out, the microphone was just rather keen.

The video is about 7 minutes long.

As usual I am linking to harvest Monday hosted on Dave's blog Our Happy Acres

Friday, August 11

Plot perennial border

This year has been a year for much needed renovation work on the allotment. One such project was the renovation of a large flower bed at one edge of our plot.

Regular readers may be able to cast their minds back to the beginning of the year when the bed looked like this.
It was swamped with couch grass, bindweed and all manner of other weeds. 

This was the allotment so we didn't want to spend a fortune, rather it needed a cheap and cheerful look. With this in mind we spotted an offer of 172 perennial plug plants at a very reasonable price. It was a pot luck collection which meant that we couldn't choose the plants to be included.

These arrived at the beginning of April. They were tiny plug plants and so they were potted up with three or more plugs to a pot.
By the 4 May we had removed as many weeds as possible. The black elders and roses had been severely 'pruned'.
4 May
Couch grass and bindweed are persistent and so I kept going over the bed to remove any pieces that were reappearing.
11 May

Plants that we wanted to keep were dug up, tidied and replanted.
14 May
These included centaurea montana - perennial cornflowers, some penstemon and some bearded irises.
We then planted out the potted perennials which although they had put on quite a lot of growth still didn't make much of an impression. We guessed that this year the bed would look sparse.
14 May
30 May

3 June

The new perennials grew surprisingly quickly and in June lupins and poppies were flowering but the bindweed was also making an appearance sometimes courtesy of the tiniest fragment previously missed.
10 June
I grew some achillea, gaillardia and ageratum from seed which were added to fill some gaps.
13 June
We bought some dahlia tubers and moved some overwintered chrysanthemums and a dahlia from the greenhouse. Soon rather surprisingly the bed was filling out.
7 August
7 August
7 August
I still keep spotting bits of bindweed but I am determined to stay on top of it - wish me luck.

If you have about 20 minutes to spare you may like to watch the video that I made showing this and other flower areas on our allotment. I recommend viewing in full screen. There is a commentary so turn your sound on.

Copyright: Original post from Our Plot at Green Lane Allotments
author S Garrett

Wednesday, August 9


Monday, August 7

Not what I call small

The Oullins Gage plums are at the delicious stage and we are picking lots on each plot visit. A couple of punnets have gone to plot neighbours. This year we have only had a couple of unwanted occupants in the form of plum moth larvae. We always cut plums in half before eating just to make sure.

I don't know whether the waspinators, which incidentally have survived the rain showers, have been responsible but so far the plum trees have been a wasp free area. Long may this continue. No doubt at some point the wasps will realise that they have been duped.

We are now pulling the second sowing of peas. The pods are in much better condition than the first lot that we harvested.  I'm making sure that both the peas and the sweet peas are well watered.
31 July
Two rows of Kestrel potatoes have been lifted. They produced a modest bucketful of tubers. As was the case last year not one of the potatoes had any pest damage. They are also very tasty. Two reasons why they will stay on our potato list for next season.
I'm picking peas on every plot visit as we want to enjoy them at their best rather than harvesting cannonball sized peas.
1 August
The Robin Hood broad beans are now ready. These are the first broad beans that we have sown direct rather than in pots. Despite our misgivings they are now producing lots of diminutive pods. The beans are miniature sized too but very tasty with no outer shell.
Robin Hood
Last week we picked our first ripe tomatoes. No prizes for guessing that the first to ripen was Sungold.  The ones pictured below alongside the watercress were our second picking. Both were fresh from the garden and enjoyed for lunch along with the cucumber in the first photograph.
 Sweet peas are still being picked by the bucketload
3 August
The ones above went to my sister as we already had vases of them all over the house.
Malwina is still producing a few strawberries. It's just about time now for us to remove the nets and carry out a general tidy up of the beds. Unless there are gaps to fill, all the runners will be removed too.

The Cobra Climbing French beans are giving a steady supply but so far the other French Climbing beans are still to start giving. Likewise Celebration is the only productive runner bean so far.
5 August
I am now picking from the second and third cropping blueberry bush. The third has lots of impressive sized berries.

I'm being selective when picking the blackberries as the dry conditions seem to be preventing all the berries from swelling and some are black but rather solid.

Did you notice the sprinkling of All Gold autumn raspberries?
Our Kalibro cabbages have produced what I would call large heads. We picked one which we brought home wearing, Martyn's helmet
The seed catalogue describes Kalibro as quoted here 'Produces small heads 2-2.25kg in weight'. This cabbage weighed in at 2.3kg (about 5lb) slightly overweight according to this description but another seed company states that the heads could weigh as much as 3kg (over ). I don't really call that small do you? I wonder how long the heads will keep before splitting.
As well as as cutting sweet peas I am also cutting flowers from our newly planted perennial bed and the annual flower bed. More on that in a later post.
This year we have been pleased with the number of fruits that have been produced by the peach and nectarine trees growing in the garden greenhouse. The fruits are fairly small probably due to our extreme reluctance to thin them. The problem is that we are convinced that if we did thin them the ones remaining on the tree would fall off!

We decided to try a couple of fruits to see whether they were ready. The verdict was that they are not quite there although there was a hint of the flavour to come. Now which will come first fully ripe fruits picked from the tree or the tree giving up and shedding under-ripe specimen?

Martyn posted a video of the picking ceremony on his blog yesterday,

As usual I am linking to harvest Monday hosted on Dave's blog Our Happy Acres