The July Allotment

Now we’ve finally had some heat the allotment is burgeoning. My allotment is very rural, situated well away from any roads or housing so it takes ages to warm up and frosts in June and again in September are not uncommon. Fourteen years ago I discovered these allotments in the next village on a cycle ride with my children. We fantasised about which one we would like as clearly there were many untended plots and together we chose Plot 11 with its central grass path and rickety gate. It lies about two miles by road from home but in the summer I usually cycle off-road through the woods. image

Overnight all the poppies have flowered. I sowed this wildflower patch in the spring using seed from Countryfile, a few saved poppiies from home and the remainder of a packet of Cornflower seeds.
Overnight all the poppies have flowered. I sowed a wildflower patch in the spring using free seed from the TV programme Countryfile, a few saved poppy seed heads from home and some cornflower and mixed cosmos seed. I’ve weeded a few times but this patch has had no added water.
The French beans (Cobra) and Borlotti beans are finally starting to climb. The seed was sown on May 17 and  the beans planted out the first week of June. Peering closely I can see flowers  forming. Behind the beans are four courgette plants, two yelllow and two green and four Butternut and four Blue Kuri squash. The latter keeps well in my cool well-ventilated garage until the following March. I also have sweetcorn and you can see at the end the asparagus bed. I stopped cropping the asparagus mid-June having startted nine weeks earlier and now all the fern is through  and after a thorough weeding yesterday and a useful amount of rain overnight I mulched this morning with a pile of very well-rotted horse manure.
The French beans (Cobra) and Borlotti beans are finally starting to climb. The seed was sown on May 17 and the beans planted out during the first week of June. Peering closely I can see flowers forming. Behind the beans are four courgette plants, two yellow (both now fruiting) and two green, and four Butternut and four Blue Kuri squash. The latter keeps well in my cool well-ventilated garage until the following spring. I also have sweetcorn growing and you can see at the end of the plot the asparagus bed, comprising about 25 crowns planted in 2003 and 2004.  I stopped cropping the asparagus mid-June having started nine weeks earlier. Now all the fern is through and after a thorough weeding yesterday and a useful amount of rain overnight I mulched this morning with a pile of very well-rotted horse manure.
The cutting patch has been such a success. I sowed a row of Cornflower, a mixed packet of seed for cutting from Sarah Raven, a row of Anemone Coronaria Sylphide and a row of white acidanthera. Elsewhere I have loads of self-seeded Nigella,and 'Cupani
The cutting patch is a success so far. I sowed a row of Cornflower, a packet of mixed flower seed for cutting from Sarah Raven, planted corms of Anemone coronaria ‘ Sylphide’ and a row of white Acidanthera. Elsewhere I have masses of self-seeded Nigella and ‘Cupani” sweet peas and one new hot-pink dahlia, whose name escapes me. I do know D. Karma Choc failed to make the grade. Cambridge Favourite strawberries are finished and once it cools down I will start propagating by pinning a runner into individual 9cm pots of compost. I will probably take about 24 runners from my three different varieties of strawberry and plant them out into prepared ground in September. You may just be able to see the basil plants and rows of cut and come again salad leaves.
Tomatoes are looking promising this year. I have only had one good tomato year at the allotment  and that was in 2006. Over the years I have made an awful lot of green tomato chutney, more salad, beetroot and rocket. My first sowing of rocket is now self-seeding under one of the apple trees.
Tomatoes (“Gardener’s Delight’) are looking promising this year. I have had only one really good tomato year in all my years at the allotment and that was in 2006. Over the years I have made an awful lot of green tomato chutney and experimented with many different varieties. More salad (I keep sowing a pinch at a time every few weeks), beetroot and rocket. My first sowing of rocket is now self-seeding under one of the apple trees. Rocket flowers are deliciously peppery if you’ve not tried them. I am getting ready to sow some more spinach by wetting the ground well. Also visible a late sowing of cornflower and direct sown white cosmos ‘Purity’.
Newly transplanted leeks. I have about 100 planted out here and another 100 to go. I don't  bother growing onions anymore as they are so cheap to buy and dificult to store, but if you've got leeks on the plot there is always food on the table. I net them in thier infancy against bird damage.
Newly transplanted leeks. I have about 100 planted here and another 100 waiting to go in from a March direct sowing. I don’t bother growing onions anymore as they are so cheap to buy and difficult to store, but I reckon if you’ve got leeks on the plot there is always food on the table. I net them in their infancy against bird damage. You can also see my  allotment neighbour’s brilliant up-cycling of an old frame tent as a fruit cage.
The summer raspberries, growing under the draped netting, have been fantastic this year.Like the strawberries and roses and elderflowers and roses I think they have benefited from the col spring and the warmth has come at just the right time. I'm picking and we're eating a punnet a day.
The summer raspberries, growing under the draped netting, have been fantastic this year. Like strawberries, roses and elderflowers I think they have benefited from the cool spring. I’m picking, and we’re eating, a punnet a day. In the foreground Hemerocallis ‘Hyperion’ growing under Victoria plum,  and you can just see a red gooseberry and ever-bearing strawberries which were weeded and doused with comfrey tea today. I have three apple trees, a pear tree and a plum tree so my allotment could be called an orchard. We are still drinking the garden co-operative cider made from the 2013 apple harvest.
And garlic, Thermidor and White Tuscany, drying in the sun under netting.
Garlic Tuscany Wight from the Isle of Wight garlic farm, drying in the sun under netting. I grow about 50 heads of garlic, planted out at the end of September. I start harvesting ‘wet’ garlic in May but the main crop is dug up around the longest day. The space vacated by the garlic is awaiting the purple sprouting broccoli but first I need to prepare the ground by lightly forking over and spreading a thin layer of manure.
Newly dug Nicola potatoes.
Newly dug Nicola potatoes, they are melt-in-the-mouth delicious.
Finally for this month, Red Epicure broad beans. Broad bean risotto with basil for dinner tonight followed by raspberries and cream.
Finally for this month, Red Epicure broad beans. Broad bean risotto with basil for dinner tonight followed by raspberries and cream. More salad, sweet peas and the direct sown leeks waiting for transplanting.

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And I couldn't resist sharing this. My lovely local greengrocer gave me a box of apricots which needed to be turned into jam pretty swiftly so guess what I was doing on the hottest evening of the year so far? Delicous jam though.
And I couldn’t resist sharing this. My lovely local greengrocer gave me a box of apricots so no need to guess what I was doing on the hottest evening of the year so far. Delicious  jam though.
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14 thoughts on “The July Allotment

  1. Wow, that looks so productive. And pretty too. I lost Dahlia Karma Choc over winter. A pity as it’s a gorgeous one. I shall buy another if I see it and lift it this time! Thought I could get away with it in Devon but clearly not.

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    1. Thanks Jessica. I think it’s sitting in winter wet clay that does it for my dahlias. Funny how the favourite ones never make it through. I was wondering if you got hold of any more sweetcorn, mine only went out as pot grown plants bought at my local garden centre a few weeks ago.

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  2. Thankyou for visiting my blog, and for your kind words 🙂 I am in awe of your allotment, I always fantasise about having an sllotment, but I’m far too lazy to put in the effort. Fabulous pictures, I look forward to visiting you again 🙂
    Jillxxx

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  3. Thanks Jill for your kind comments and welcome. It’s interesting to hear that you weren’t sure if a comment had posted. I often have the same problem posting on blogspot sites, but not with yours today funnily enough. As a new blogger I’m definitely still learning the ropes but I do think that sometimes blogspot and WordPress accounts aren’t very good at talking to one another. I wonder if any other bloggers have had similar experiences?

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  4. Really interesting post Sarah. It’s great to hear what you’re up to. Sounds hugely productive and it must be immensely satisfying to cook and eat what you’ve grown. We’re just beginning to enjoy that feeling now we have more space. I noticed earlier that we have our first raspberry ripening on the autumn-fruiting bushes we planted as sticks in April. Very exciting. That apricot jam looks fabulous. Not sure I’d have been conscientious enough to make it in the heat though! Well done.

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    1. Thanks Sam. Good to hear you’re growing autumn raspberries, their season lasts for months from round about now until the first frost. Watch out for them spreading, but they are easy to remove when they do. I cut mine to the ground every January, weed and mulch with leaf mould and that’s it, no more work apart from picking and jam-making! They open-freeze really well too and then I put them in bags and use them in muffins and crumbles and clafoutis through the winter.

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  5. The plot is looking fantastic! As I was reading and saw your bed with 100 leeks I thought wow, then read you are ready for another 100!! How will you use them all? I have planted about 8, you must be thinking “she better get some more in” lol…

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  6. Hi, I just came across your blog, your allotment looks fantastic. I’ve had a full plot since 2008 and have had about as much luck as you with growing tomatoes. A couple of great years, but I’ve also made a lot of green tomato chutney over the years! At least they don’t go to waste.

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    1. Hi Zoe, and I’m so glad you visited and left a comment. Your allotment journal looks wonderful. What a lovely way to record the growing year. I will enjoy scrolling back and reading earlier entries. Here’s hoping for a blight-free year! Sarah x

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  7. I enjoyed reading about your allotment Sarah. My plot is also about two miles away from home but in a very built up area. We’re growing quite a few crops in common though 🙂

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  8. Well done, what an amazingly productive allotment you have and how idyllic to cycle through the woods to get to it. I love allotments, I had one for a while but hoses were not allowed and I found trying to keep everything watered with a watering can so difficult in hot summers.
    How wonderful to be able to grow tomatoes outside, I have given them up because of the blight which always ruined them.

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  9. Thanks Chloris we are very lucky being allowed to use hoses and have sheds. Although interestingly in the Sissinghurst kitchen garden yesterday I was talking to the volunteer workers and they said they don’t irrigate. The beds are so built up with muck and green waste end product that the crops take their chance but everything looked pretty good to me. Dare I become a ‘no water’ as well as a ‘no dig’ allotmenteer? Oh the tomatoes, one good year in 15 and who could forget the horror that is making vats of green tomato chutney the day before we go on holiday! I always say ‘never again’ but I had some ‘Gardener’s Delight’ seed so we shall see.

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  10. This sounds and looks idyllic but I am sure is a lot of hard work too! What an amazing feeling it must be to grow and eat so much of your own fruit and veg. Marvellous X

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