A Summer Allotment Update

July 20, 2015

{Part of the cutting garden, different varieties of Cosmos}
{I apologise now to anyone who isn't into growing as this post will probably be incredibly boring to you, sorry! Bit of a longer post but I only do one per season so this is it}

I've been meaning to write another allotment post {after this before and after post from last year} for a while now but believe it or not I rarely take my phone/camera down there. I'm hardly ever without my phone glued to my hand but the allotment is one place where you really don't need it, and if I do take it it only lands up in the mud when I'm busy picking all the produce. 

While the garden is my baby, the allotment is definitely Ben's. I have a say in to what I'd like to grow and I pick most of the produce and come up with creative ways to cook with it all but Ben's the one who goes down for half an hour most mornings before work weeding or creating new projects out of pallet wood, digging the soil or planting. He loves it. This is our second year with it and while we haven't had to do any big work down there {last year we literally started from scratch creating all the beds etc}, this year has been harder in many ways because of the weather. Last year we got lucky with the weather and everything grew beautifully - it seemed so easy!, this year we had a colder wetter winter that went on for longer than last year meaning that a lot of things have taken a lot longer to get going than last year. When it finally did warm up, it got too hot all of a sudden for weeks on end, causing a few things to bolt or really dry out. But overall we've done OK with it all so far and spent many an evening wandering down after dinner and staying there until the sun goes down. The long light evenings have been perfect and already we've eaten a lot of salad, spinach, berries and courgettes. Really a lot of plants are only just getting going now so we have the rest of the summer ahead of us for being laden down with armfuls of produce. 

Despite the weather conditions changing year on year, a whole growing season into allotmenting and we're learning more and more all the time. We know what works and what doesn't, what's likely to get eaten by pests and how to overcome problems. Slugs are our biggest problem. We're lucky not to have rabbits or deer nearby but slugs can munch young plants before they've had a chance to grow. We're anti slug pellets too as we want everything to be 100% organic and natural so we're thinking of creative ways to beat the buggers, coffee grounds, copper strips etc. 

After last year we sat down and thought about exactly what we wanted to grow for this season, what had worked well last summer and what hadn't and also what is super cheap in the supermarket at a time when you're likely to have a glut of {sweetcorn for example which took up a lot of room on our plot last year and you can buy just as good in the shops in it's cobs still}. We're not bothering with beans this year, my parents, Ben's Mum and Grandma all have veg plots and we couldn't use them all last year. Likewise we haven't got any potatoes in this time round, they take up a fair amount of room and I don't eat them. But we are trying some new things - black kale, kohl rabi, unusual varities of tomatoes and beetroot, fiesta popcorn and cuca-melons for example. Things that are a bit different and harder to get in the shops which make growing them more interesting and beneficial. I like picking yellow courgettes and also the round ball shaped ones as they're a bit more novel.

I've also started a little cutting garden, which I talked about back here when I was sowing seeds in the Springtime, and love bringing big bunches of cut flowers home. The dahlia's are just getting going but I've had sweet peas for a few weeks now, ammi, cosmos and zinnias so far which I love filling little jars with. Not everything has done well - the larkspur are tiny for some reason but it's all trial and error.

We've rotated most of the crops this year, it's beneficial to their yields and reduces disease if you use a basic crop rotation so that the soil doesn't get exhausted. Ben plans everything on an excel spreadsheet and works out what to plant where, and when. 

It's also become an extension of our garden in many ways, if there's a plant we want but can't fit in the garden it goes to the allotment. Likewise with wood {and other junk} for Ben's projects gets stored down there and we've bought a few large galvanised tubs for growing things like carrots and salad in. As a result, the shed on the plot is still in progress, eventually it will be painted and be used as a greenhouse in the spring/summer and then boarded over in the Winter for storage. But for now we use the greenhouse on Ben's Mum's plot down there which serves us well for growing tomatoes and starting seeds off. We've got a little table and chairs to set up down there but because we live so close by we tend to come home if we want a break.

This year we're growing: Carrots, Beetroot {including some different coloured ones and candied stripe beets}, Celery, Courgettes, Pumpkins {trying out for the Atlantic Giant, one of the world record breaking varieties!}, Squashes, Gourds, Onions, Garlic, Curly Kale, Cavalo Nero {Italian black kale}, Raspberries, Strawberries, Spinach, Salad, Fiesta popcorn, Rhubarb,  Kohl Rabi, Tomatoes in a greenhouse, Cuca-melons, Melons... along with fruit on the fruit trees {apples, pears and plums} to name a few! I'm sure I've forgotten something? That equals a lot of produce, we end up giving away what we can't use or store much to our neighbours and friends delight! I really love popping down and picking everything fresh or just some salad leaves for lunch, it also forces me to cook new things to utilise what's growing that week.

Some photos from the last couple of weeks - 

{Ammi majus in the cutting flower patch}
{Strawberry planters out of pallet wood,stops the slugs!}
{Spot the red jewels - strawberry picking}

{Baby beets a few weeks back}

{Dahlia buds}

{First of the beets}

{Apples and Pears}

{Swiss Chard - Bright Lights}
{Fiesta Popcorn}
{Kale that should go on through the Winter until the end of next Spring}

{Onions drying}

{The start of our, hopefully, giant pumpkin. Watch this space come Halloween!}

{Flowering Mint}
{Mint growing out of an old wheelbarrow}
{Beets and Kohl Rabi - I love the colour of their leaves}

{We let a few leeks from Winter go to seed, they look pretty, add structure and the bumble bees love them}
{Raspberry picking daily}
{Cavalo Nero - Black Italian Kale}
{Part of the cutting garden, different varieties of Cosmos}

{Rambling pumpkins and squashes}

{Not ours - our allotment neighbour who was once a championship flower grower!}
{Shed still in progress, needs to be painted but we're getting there!}

I love using these posts as a way of documenting our progress and to look back on during the Winter.

R <3 xx 

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  1. Wow thank you for your allotment post. Love to read it and see all your photo's! A huge amount of work but very rewarding!! Who takes care of the allotment when your on vacation? Looking forward to seeing the shed!


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