END OF A BRILLIANT SUMMER
Nothing lasts forever, so I guess our long summer heat wave had to end sometime, so when the rain eventually did come it was very welcome.
Flowers have been glorious this year, with roses now into the second flush, though recent wet weather has brought back some blackspot. Wall climbers had their main flush then got summer pruned to remove any rose hips and encourage new growth for late summer blooms.
Bedding begonias and geraniums have never stopped flowering all summer. Geranium flowers produced a lot of seed heads, but these were removed so they can continue to bloom.
Outdoor fuchsia shrub Mrs Popple grows four feet every year and is a mass of flowers. Although these will produce fruits, they are allowed to develop as I like to eat them when they ripen. They have a sweet peppery flavour.
Into the greenhouse
In the greenhouse the tomatoes are very heavy with huge trusses of fruit. As it is impossible to eat them all Anna makes some delicious tomato soup.
Jalapeno peppers are producing a very heavy crop from just two plants in one growbag, but are refusing to turn red. More patience needed, while Anna looks for more hot dishes to experiment with. Realising the enormous health benefits from peppers and chillis Anna is throwing caution to the wind and living life in the danger zone. She is now cooking with Scotch Bonnet peppers; better get some yoghurt ready to cool down if things get a bit hot.
Red seedless grape Flame is now being picked while Black Hamburg slowly ripens and turns black. This is a crucial moment while grapes swell, ripen and turn softer. They are very prone to fungal attacks so keep the glasshouse well ventilated and do not water at all. The roots should have grown very deep so surface dry soil should not be a problem. Watering at this stage could split the grapes and cause botrytis to form and spread to healthy grapes. Remove any split grapes as soon as they appear.
Early apple Oslin, the Arbroath Pippin has now finished cropping. It is a small golden coloured fruit with a distinct muscat flavour. It does not store well, so has to be eaten within a couple of weeks. However my other early apple Discovery is now ready and has a longer storage life, though I still leave the fruit on the tree for as long as possible.
Plum Victoria has a huge crop this year, so the problem will be, how can we use them all. The freezers are full of summer fruits and I am running out of demijohns.
Autumn Bliss raspberries continue to produce large sweet berries and my perpetual strawberry Flamenco gives us a steady picking of very flavoursome fruit though the plants are very slow to grow and produce runners.
As crops such as onions, French and broad beans, peas, salads, beetroot, cabbage, cauliflower and sweet corn finish cropping and the ground gets cleared, there is still time for successional sowing.
Lettuce, radish, spring onions are the obvious ones for a late sowing, but I am now also into trying autumn salad leaf vegetables. So I have now sown a few rows of Oriental mustard mix, rocket, land cress, polycress, corn salad, and how about pak choi, tatsoi, mizuna, choy sum gunsho and komatsuna. If they all grow and I present Anna with these culinary delights for the kitchen she will have her work cut out finding out how to use them. Life on the allotment never stays the same but can an old dog learn new tricks. I could have a few stories to tell in a couple of months time.
Plant of the week
Fig Brown Turkey has also enjoyed the summer this year. We have been eating figs almost every day since the end of August. The fig starts to bend over when it ripens as the stem goes soft, so it is easy to tell when to pick them. Always check low down under the canopy for fruit as many are hidden by the large exotic leaves. My bush is about six years old, six foot tall and pruned to try and keep it close to the wall supporting it. Roots are restricted as the planting bed was lined with paving slabs to discourage excessive growth.
Painting of the month
Climbing rose Mme Alfred Carrier was a mass of dazzling white scented flowers when some art students on my painting workshop in July went out to paint them. They needed some guidance so I gave a one hour painting demonstration on site then finished it off in the studio. It is an acrylic painting on a small board. We had a day painting on the allotments, then another at Rait village, (always a favourite place for a Scottish village painting) then a day around the garden.