A glorious session at the allotment today harvesting, weeding and clearing spent crops. These cosmos in my wildflower patch are at eye height and were buzzing with all kinds of bees today.
Beautiful Dahlia Onesta waiting to be picked.
We had the first leeks this week. Sliced thinly and gently softened in butter and stirred into pasta with hot salmon flakes, a squeeze of lemon and plenty of black pepper and we have another of my simple, tasty and very quick pasta dishes.
Sweetcorn has been slow to ripen this year. I usually know when it’s ready when the local wildlife becomes interested. The borlotti beans too are only just starting to change colour. The new runner beans were sown direct to replace virus affected French beans. I think the variety is White Painted Lady and I noticed plenty of flowers today so I’m hoping for an autumn picking.
This photo is for Chloris and Cathy and shows my famous Anemone coronaria Sylphide in its fourth consecutive month of flowering!
Autumn Bliss raspberries. There’s been a lively discussion on Caro’s blog, An Urban Veg Patch, about autumn fruiting raspberries and the jury is definitely out on Autumn Bliss. I think so much depends on your soil, the weather and aspect and how you cultivate the crop. My allotment soil is free-draining and my plot is very open and sunny. I cut down the canes in January, keep the ground well-weeded and mulch with a thick layer of leaf mould in April. I usually start harvesting at the end of July, much later this year because of the drought, and continue picking until the first air frost. I never feed or water my raspberries but every five years or so I re-plant a dozen canes into fresh soil so the crop is renewed and I limit their spread. Autumn raspberries and asparagus are the two crops I would not be without. I call them my bankers as neither has ever failed and they are both so delicious and impossible I think to replicate commercially.
We’re already eating Lord Lambourne. It is very good but comes second in taste and keeping to my favourite Fiesta.
You know it’s a good year for fruit when even the pear tree, Fondante d’automne, is cropping well. However, the squashes in the background are not doing so well. My four butternut squash plants have only one mature fruit and about a dozen pear-sized fruits between them and the four Blue Kuri have managed to produce one squash each. I suspect the drought is to blame as I’ve not watered this bed after the initial planting out. I’m not too disappointed to have a squash-light year. One year I think I used about 36 squashes in various incarnations. Oh my poor children. They have been so well brought up they have never refused to eat anything I have cooked!
Rosa Fragrant Cloud is blooming again. A happy rose thanks to plenty of watering with comfrey tea.
Ever bearing strawberries. I’ve taken masses of runners from this bed and must take more as everyone wants to plant these for next year. My shady bed of 24 plants has been producing a good bowlful every other day since the end of July. I did keep them well-watered during the drought and have fed them two or three times with comfrey tea, but even so I am very impressed.
On the whole it has been a middling year at the allotment. The tomatoes although not affected by blight are tasteless, the basil never really got going and my one chilli plant has yet to set a fruit. All the root crops have been good although the carrots are very small. The broad beans were disappointing. I lost an early crop to black fly and the second Red Epicure sowing was sparse. I had a couple of dozen plums and the pigeons had all my red gooseberries. Strawberries and garlic have been good and I’ve been picking (and watering) salad leaves every time I visit. Courgettes and cucumbers have been fine with no gluts thank goodness.
Next year I hope to produce more flowers. I have Sweet William, a blood red wallflower and Sweet Rocket all growing very happily. I also have seed for a new white Nigella and corms for a new wine-coloured anemone ready to go in. I will try again with a dark dahlia such as Karma Choc and not give up with Orlaya, which germinated this year but flaked out in the heat. I also want to experiment more with sweet peas and try and extend their season, mice permitting.
How was your year? I have found it good to look back while the successes and failures are still fresh in my mind and hopefully it will mean next year will be even better. Or that’s what I keep telling myself.