Monday, 10 August 2015

MID SUMMER ON THE PLOT



MID SUMMER ON THE PLOT

This is the healthy season as we enjoy the fresh soft fruit in the middle of the raspberry (Glen Fyne) and strawberry picking season, as well as gooseberries and some massive Ben Conan blackcurrants. Then a few days later the saskatoons will be ready. All the while the garden salads are being gathered, as well as turnip, cabbage, cauliflower and peas. Beetroot are big enough to allow a thinning by taking out the smaller baby beet, and the first of my courgettes is ready. Once they start they just keep coming right through summer. The cool wet summer has been beneficial for those plants needing to put on growth like the cabbages, cauliflowers, brussels sprouts, all root crops and salads, but fruit crops are suffering as they need sunshine and warmth to sweeten up the berries.
Sweet corn and broad beans are only half the height they were this time last year, and early pickings of broad beans are disappointing. The pods are not full and the beans not as big as normal. Similarly peas are down in size, but we are ever hopeful that summer is just delayed and not totally absent.
A decent late summer and autumn could make a huge difference, especially for my grape vines, pumpkins, apples, pears and autumn raspberries.

Onions and leeks are putting on terrific growth and promise heavy crops, but onions will need a warm dry period for ripening towards the end of August.
Swedes, turnips, parsnips, carrots, beetroot and radish have never looked better and these root crops are so good that it is hard to use them all, though many of them will be fine in the ground into winter and some will get frozen.
Similarly the cabbages and cauliflower are all maturing together, but I have sown them in small numbers in short rows several weeks apart to extend cropping, but a lot of the caulis will get frozen for future use.
Potatoes are another very healthy crop with Sarpo Mira and International Kidney showing no signs of blight, unlike Lady Christl which has suffered some fungus so it has been lifted ahead of the others. Blight however has not reduced cropping with numbers and size of tubers very impressive.
Dwarf French beans started off with excellent germination sowing outdoors into soil I though was too cold, but it was time for sowing by the calendar. They had to have some serious thinning, but now I have two rows of very sturdy plants giving me my first taste of beans.
I always grow some flowers on the plot to make it more attractive as well as giving some cut flowers for the house. Gladioli are late but strong, chrysanthemums are early but small and sweet peas have the vigour but lack flowers. One allotment plot with a pond has some terrific pure white water lilies complete with the resident frogs.

City Road Allotments Open Day
This year our Open Day is on Sunday 9th August when we open the gates and welcome everyone in to see our gardens. We are open from 11am to 3pm. People are welcome to visit, wander around the plots, enjoy refreshments in our café on site with home baking and purchase freshly harvested fruit and vegetables as well as home made jams, tablet and chutney. There will also be many garden plants for sale from geraniums, grape vines and heucheras to saskatoons and roses.


Wee jobs to do this week
Climbing roses that have had their first flush of flowers can be pruned to remove old flower heads and hopefully put on some fresh growth before giving us a second show of flowers in late summer.
Blackberries can suffer attacks from the raspberry beetle maggots, so give the fruit a spray with pyrethrum as soon as they begin to turn colour, then repeat ten days later.
Check tomato plants leaves for botrytis and remove as soon as any appears. This can be a problem during cold damp weather, so keep the ventilators open to reduce any condensation.

END

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