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My Allotments on 15th July 2015

Its been some time since I last photographed my allotments or indeed write a blog about it so here goes:

I think the main reason I haven't written anything is that I am getting a bit disallusioned with my allotments, could this be an aging thing?

Then again it might be partly down to some of the changes that are happening in the name of so called progress and the 'grow your own' campaign.

For example: there is the legislation changes that are taking place e.g. the removal of certain products, things like Peat, certain fertilisers and chemicals, yet the commercial gardeners can get / use them.

Now I am not one for using chemicals as such, but the way I look at them is, they are 'plant medicines'.

I find it strange how people under the pretence of being 'organic' will not give their plants some 'medicine' when they need it, commercial growers will.

Then there are the people who have legislated and indeed demanded that these products be banned which to a point I can understand, but it would have been nice if they could have replaced them with a suitable alternative.

I was always taught during my gardening career that if you find a way to do something that works, carry on doing it this way until you find a better way!

But now I cannot always do it the way as I was taught simply because the means for doing this are not always there, meaning I have to find other ways, and sadly these are not always better ways!

I could say a lot more but that's enough moaning for now, so lets have a tour around my allotment!

 


The Site Plan

I thought I might start by showing you some panoramic views of my alloments then zoom in and show you more detail.

By the way for those people who are not aware I have two allotments and they are numbered Plot 19 & 20 on the site plan so I thought I would use these numbers when I discuss particular location on the site.

 

Plot 20

(click on all pictures to enlarge)


Plot 19 is a new plot I have taken since this plan was drawn.


Overview

In general terms I am quite happy with the progress on the plots considering the mixed bag of weather we have had since Spring.

April was quite warm and many plants were fooled into growth, only to be checked in May when it was quite cold and wet.

June was quite cold and very dry, resulting in plants needing more nursing than they would normally get.

The first week in July was in the 30°C around 90°F then the following week it was down to around a maximum of 18°C (64°F) which in plant terms is a terrific drop in temperature.

What I have noticed this year is the number of physiological problems some plants have suffered for example.

My Sweet Peppers are fruiting on plants that are half their normal size.

Tomatoes are suffering from leaf curl caused by rapid changes in temperature.


Strawberries though plentiful, were relatively small which I put down to the lack of moisture when they most needed it.

My first sowing of Peas are suffering from lack of moisture as are my Sweet Peas.

I planted some brassicas the last week in June just before we got the hot spell in early July so I had to water them.

This in itself was not a problem but I must have wetted the leaves, the hot sun boiled the droplets of water and cooked the leaves, which caused the leaves to warp.

Will they recover? ......I guess only time will tell!

 


The Tour

 

Various views of Plot 19

 



 

Various views of Plot 20

 

Now for a closer look starting with my 28ft long Greenhouse which I inherited when I took on the plot nearly thirty years ago.

Over the years I have had to make a few running repairs and it now has a plastic roof (a polytunnel skin) rather than a glazed one, simply because the original roof timbers could not support the weight of the glass.

The greenhouse has five beds approximately 7ft x 2'0" in use, the sixth bed is used for a storage area for my benches and drying bed.

The back end is laughingly called my 'potting shed' in other words it is where I place my tools and hoard stuff much of which is junk!

 

View from door

 

View from back end

 

Cobra French Beans

 

Cobra French Beans



 

Sweet Peppers

 

Sweet Peppers

 

Cucumber

 

Chillis


 

Sweet Peppers

 

Aubergines

 

Cobra French Beans

 

Garlic drying





I have been harvesting the French beans for about three weeks now.

I find them an excellent bean for quantity, quality, taste and freezing.

I find they are better grown under glass up here in the wild and wooly north some 900 ft above sea level

I grow two crops per year as a rule, in fact I pricked out the second batch yesterday and these will replace these ones once they have finished producing.

12 ft Greenhouse

This year it is filled with various varieties of tomatoes.

I consider myself quite lucky with greenhouse space what with having three greenhouses on the plot, it means I can practice a good 'rotation system' meaning I don't have to change the border soil every year.

Fruit Bed

Prior to being a fruit bed this was the area I grew my exhibition Chrysanthemum and Dahlias in, the tubular frame once carried a carport style UPVC roof to protect them.

Over the years I have turned this area into a productive fruit garden,with the inclusion of Rhubarb, Early and Late Strawberries, Gooseberries, Tayberries and three types of Apples in the form of two eating varieties and one cooking variety.

I have finished harvesting Rhubarb for the season having had two good flushes of growth, and the early strawberries are nearly at their end.

Apple Trees

Strawberry Bed

 

Rhubarb Bed

 

Tayberries



Last year I removed some Blackcurrant and Gooseberry bushes from this area and haven't really decided what I want to do with the space.

Rather than let this space go to waste I have stuck a few Gladioli and Peas in here this year until I decide what I am going to do with the space.

Coldframe, Compost Heap & Containers

These are also things that I inherited when I took over the plot, and apart from the lids on the coldframe which I have renewed, everything is pretty much like how it was when I took the plot over.

This year I am having a go at growing some Butternut squash in the coldframe, in previous years I have grown things such as carrots and outdoor tomatoes in it rather than leaving it empty after I have hardened off my plants in spring.

I use the compost heap for growing my Courgettes and Pumpkins on, in fact I only recall ever emptying this compost heap once since I took it over, so I guess there is a drop of good growing medium in there if I were ever to dig it out.

Luckily I do not have to use it as I have accesss to all the manure I need so there is no necessity to use this source.(see pic >>)

I tend to use the containers for growing long rooted plants such as carrots or parsnips, this year it is parsnips.

I attempted to grow my carrots in other containers at the foot of Plot 19 but sadly I have had a complete crop failure.

I am unsure if this is down to me or the quality of the seed, for example: I have four containers in which I sowed four varieties of carrot of which only one germinated (Autumn King) sadly I failed to shelter the seedlings from the blazing sun in the first week in July and frizzled the lot.

Courgettes

Pumpkins

 

Parsnips

 



8ft x 6ft Greenhouse

This is the greenhouse I moved from Plot 21 when I swapped Plot 21 for plot 19 in October 2014.

Plot 19 is classified as a half plot, (although I would say it is 75%) and its previous owner wanted a full plot, and as I wanted to cut down on plot space I did a swap.

This year I am growing Sweet Peppers in it which fits in well with my greenhouse rotation plan.

 


Plot 20

As we are on Plot 20 let's take a closer look at what I am growing in it.

 

Sweet Peas

 

French Beans-Blue Lake

 

Chrysanthemum Bed

 

Winter Greens



 

Purple Sprouting Broccoli

 

Onions

 

Mid season Peas

 

Swedes



Here is a little more information on the above;

My Sweet peas suffered from the outset!

When I was hardening them off some mice in my greenhouse ate the seeds and left the tops, resulting in me only having three plants to plant out and these have suffered with the dry weather in June.

My Climbing French Beans seem to be growing on quite nicely.

I prefer this type of bean to Runner Beans, simply because I like the taste of these better.

In fact I have always liked round pencil shaped beans to flat beans simply because they never grow stringy!

Chrysanthemums! I always have to find a spot for these on my plot as they are one of my favourite flowers.

I have bought one or two new varieties this year so I am looking forward to see what they come out like.

Winter Greens, this is the bed that my Garlic and Japanese onions were in which I have harvested and are drying in the Greenhouse as you can see in an earlier picture.

I have dug the bed over and manured it in preparation for my winter greens some of which I have all ready planted out (PSB)

Onions: Around ten years ago this bed had white rot in it and I have never used it since for that reason.

What I am finding is that the Red Baron setts are growing quite nicely, however I can't say the same for my Turbos.

The leaves on some of these are a bit twisted, corkscrewing if you like.

I am fairly certain this is not white rot. I have a feeling it might be the result of an Onion fly attack ( another of those dry weather problems)

I must remember to lift one next week and open up the leaves to see if I am correct.

Peas

I have made a second sowing of peas (Hursts Greenshaft) and these seem to be doing quite well in this bed as it is shaded slightly by a boundary hedge which is preventing the soil drying out as much as it does elsewhere on the plot.

Swedes:

I have made three sowings of these and each of them have been decimated by flea beetle (as you can see in the attached picture) so I don't think I will be eating any of these this year, which is sad really as these are a good crop for harvesting during the winter months when very little else is available.

 


Plot 19

This is my second season on this plot and I don't have the soil just as I would like it yet, but it is certainly better than it was.

Having worked the plot next door to it for nearly thirty years I am aware of how this plot has been treated in the past.

For most of the time it has never been deeply dug or manured as the lady who had it for most of this time was not able bodied enough to carry such a task.

The next man to come only lasted eighteen months most of which was spent forming beds with 6" wide timber which he filled with compost but never loosened the soil below.

The next people who came carried on in the same manner.

When I took over I threw out all the timber work, laid out my bed plan and started digging and 'mucking' over the winter months.

The biggest problem I came across was my beds often coincided where there were once paths, meaning digging these areas was like digging through concrete but I persevered.

This is how the plot looked by Spring 2014 >>

Here are a few things I have growing in it this year:

 

Dwarf French Beans

 

Broad Beans

 

Autumn Raspberries

 

Cherries



 

Calabrese & Cauliflower

 

Calabrese

 

Cauliflower

 

Late Calabrese



 

Leeks

 

Sweet Corn

 

Early Potatoes

 

2nd Early & Maincrop



 

 

Brussels Sprouts

 

Potato Onions

 



Here is a little more information on the above;

Dwarf French Beans These seem to be responding well to the conditions they are from seed that I saved from the variety Parker that I grew last year.

Broad Beans these seem to be doing quite well and like my French beans these are saved seed from Bunyards Exhibition and The Sutton I grew last year.

Autumn cropping Rasberries these are plants that I have inherited when I took over the plot.

I managed to pick some last year but I am hoping for better things this year, as in previous years these had been left to more or less grow wild.

Cherries I inherited this tree also.

Last year it cropped well but the squirrels got there before me so this year I have netted the tree so fingers crossed that I am going to get a few to eat.

Calabrese and Cauliflower: These are Chevalier Calabrese and Candid Charm cauliflower.

The Calabrese as you can see have cropped well, pity they have all come together.

The Candid Charm doesn't seem to be as big as it usually is perhaps those that have yet to come will be bigger.

The late ones seems to be a bit of a disaster quite possibly down to the time when I planted them out they seem to have been scorched by the very hot sun we had the first week in July.

Leeks: I have sown three varieties, Oarsman, Pot Leeks and Mussleburgh.

This is the first time I have grown the Pot leeks so I am looking forward to seeing how they perform, the other two varieties seem to be coming along quite nicely.

Sweet Corn I am growing two varieties here they are Sweet Nugget and Tasty Gold and both of these seem to be performing quite well.

Potatoes: I am growing four varieties this year.

My first earlies are Rocket, my 2nd earlies are Charlotte & Kestrel and my maincrop is Pink Fir Apple.

Looking at the haulms (tops) they all seem to be performing well.

I dug up a couple of roots of the Rocket and was quite happy with the size and numbers but when I got them home I found they were riddled with wireworm, I hope this is not a sign of things to come.

Normally I have found the other three varieties are rarely, if ever, affected in this way, so fingers crossed.

Brussels Sprouts this year I am only growing one variety and that is Maximus as it has never let me down in the past and as I have said earlier in this blog I don't make changes until I find something better.

Looking at these plants I think I have got it right again.

Potato Onions I have been growing these for the past two or three years.

I am growing them in place of shallots as the shallots I normally grow from setts have been pretty poor in recent years, and these make a good substitute.

With these you get a good crop, they are easy to grow and you just save a few bulbs for next years crop so I guess this is a very good alternative to Shallots.

.....and that is pretty much it, you now have had a tour around my plots it only remains for me to show you what it is all about.

I harvested these after I took the photos you have just seen. >>>>>

 


When I got home and as I had my camera out I took a few photos of my garden, so I thought, rather than complete another blog I would just tag them on to this one in the form of a slideshow.

So click here to engage it.

.....and that concludes my gardening year so far!


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