Monday, 20 August 2018

SUMMER HARVEST CONTINUES


SUMMER HARVEST CONTINUES

Crop harvesting has started early this year, brought on by the fantastic hot dry summer. Provided plants got irrigated growth was excellent and many crops are now well ahead and ready for picking. It was the salads, lettuce and spring onion that were first to crop in early May, quickly followed by the strawberries. However both had a short season
Bringing in the gooseberries
and I was out of strawberries in mid July, though hoping my autumn cropping Flamenco, (young runners planted last autumn,) will continue with a few berries into autumn once it has established
Cauliflower Clapton
some growth. Salads needed several sowings a few months apart to give a succession, and now I am sowing those hardy varieties to last into winter.
First early potato Casablanca was ready for lifting in late May and now I have lifted second early Charlotte as all the foliage had withered, even although I had tried to keep them irrigated. No sign of any damage by slugs or blight which can be a real problem in a rainy season, but not this year. Both early varieties are salad potatoes so no huge spuds, but the crop was clean with good sizes and an excellent weight per shaw. Maincrop potato Setanta is still in foliage, but beginning to go over.
Onions ripened very early in July and needed lifting and laid out in the sun to ripen off. They do not like being irrigated as this can bring on white rot, but with the dry weather irrigation was necessary.
Successional sowings about six weeks apart, kept us supplied with Golden Ball turnips and beetroot,
Huge fresh produce from garden in August
though good growth let us have plenty baby beet as we thinned out the plants to four inches apart. The later beetroot sowing will keep us supplied into winter. I usually leave these outdoors, but will lift them for storage indoors if cold weather threatens.
Courgettes required continuous watering but with the heat they have been bountiful. Anna got a fantastic recipe for courgette soup, to use up the excess crop.
Cauliflower, cabbage and calabrese have all given great crops of huge vegetables, and unfortunately all the cauliflower ripen at the same time so it has been necessary to plant up several smaller rows a couple of months apart.
Peas were sown in two rows with Kelvedon Wonder and Onward cropped a few weeks apart so harvesting, shelling and preparing for the freezer were tasks well spread out. My granddaughter Sophie arrived for a few days on her school holidays just in time to help out. She just loved it!!!
The broad bean harvest however is a huge work load. Beans were picked in between rain showers, but then the old plants have to be dug out and chopped up for the compost heap. Once back home the sun came out so we could shell them outdoors
Workforce relaxes between harvesting  
on the patio with help from Sophie. Later that evening we gathered round the table to remove the beans from their skins before weighing and bagging up for the freezer.
Then just before Sophie got too relaxed she needed to help out to pick the gooseberries, bring them home and top and tail about thirty pounds of fruit. However that was not the end as she helped me to crush ten pounds of fruit with a potato masher for wine brewing in buckets. The white gooseberry Invicta makes a brilliant wine but I give it three years to mature in demijohns before bottling. Surplus gooseberries were again mashed by Sophie to extract the juice for some gooseberry and mint jelly, then Anna and Sophie cooked up a jelly pan of tablet in time for the allotment open day.
Saskatoons ripened on schedule at the end of July with picking over two weeks so most of the crop has been frozen or brewed for wine. The final picking was done just as Sophie’s Dundee holidays came to an end and she could get back to a normal life with friends.
Siegerrebe grapes pruned and ready to pick
Raspberry Glen Fyne and Glen Dee both gave great crops and autumn fruiting Polka and Autumn Bliss have also both started to crop from early August.

Wee jobs to do this week

Remove all sideshoots on grape vines both in greenhouses and outdoors. Also remove some leaves to let the sun shine on the swelling bunches to help ripen them up. This year of the big heatwave should ensure a bumper year for outdoor grapes in Scotland, provided autumn is warm, dry and sunny. Fingers crossed!!!
END

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