Allotment Journal: Weekly update

It’s been another beautifully sunny week, and still no rain to speak of. The temperatures here on the south coast have reached the mid twenties, making it way too hot to work during the day. We’ve taken to going to the allotment either  early in the morning or late afternoon when the temperatures are much cooler. It’s especially pleasing when we get those refreshing coastal breezes. Bliss!

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The number of butterflies visiting the allotment is increasing. This is great news as these insects help pollinate the many crops we currently have on the go. We planted flower borders on all of our plots especially to attract pollinating insects such as butterflies and bees. Above is a Large Skipper butterfly, it’s actually quite small. This one is feeding on the Munstead lavender that we planted on plot two The Skippers seem to LOVE lavender.

This week we planted some cosmos, grown by Sal,  in the orchard plots flower border. Again this plant should help attract pollen loving insects whilst adding a cheery splash of vibrant colour. I love cosmos, it has tall delicate fern like foliage and large pretty flowers.

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And the poppy experiment is gong well, so far. We planted 15 small poppy plants, a few on each plot. I grew these plants at home in modules from the seeds I saved last year, these seeds came from our one and only poppy! My theory is the poppy seeds are germinating naturally in situ but the snails and slugs are devouring the tender leaves as they emerge in late spring, leaving us ‘poppiless’!

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To protect these seedlings against snail and slug attack we scattered organic, pet friendly, slug pellets around them. So far this seems to be working, the plants are growing well and have almost doubled in size within a week and a bit.  We’re not sure if they will actually flower as it’s fairly late in the season for poppies, but you never know. I’ll keep you posted.

This week I planted some of my Amposta, a sweet red onion, seedlings.  About 30 of them. Some on plot one and some on the orchard plot. It will be interesting to see how they do. I may be a little late with them. The red baron onion seeds I sowed earlier in the year are now beginning to form a decent sized bulb. I think we may end up with the equivalent of spring onions from the Amposta crop. They won’t over winter well, so will need to be picked sometime in the autumn.

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I planted some dill. I grew these plants from seed. They are fairly vigorous.

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I initially filled a space on plot one, in the bed where the angelica is growing, they looked marvellous, only to discover they are NOT great companions. Everything I read said DO NOT PLANT with angelica. They are both from the same family, apiaceae, and they cross pollinate easily. This cross pollination will compromise the flavour of both plants, apparently. So I moved them the very next day, to the orchard plot, some next to the rhubarb ( next to the upright Glaskins Perpetual) and some in an onion bed. After reading about aphids we also decided to plant some dill next to the Borlotti beans on plot two.

I have grown quite a few kale plants this year. I always like to grow a few more than required, just in case! In the past we have lost a number of seedlings to cabbage white butterfly caterpillars and snails and slugs. We planted 12 plants, a mixture of Sutherland Kale, Jagallo Nero, Red Russian and Cavolo Nero, in the brassica bed on plot one. But I had more of each variety.

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I came up with a cunning plan…. we have space in the middle of the legume wig-wams. I’ve probably broken all the crop rotation rules but hey! We’ve managed to plant another 8 kale plants…. we’re probably going to be sick of the stuff!

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These structures will protect the kale from the birds, pigeons do love a brassica!, but obviously they are not protected from cabbage white butterflies laying their eggs. This shouldn’t be a problem, I shall keep and eye on that, butterfly eggs and caterpillars are easy enough to sort out. I doubt very much we will over winter these kale plants.

The beetroot module experiment also seems to be going well……. we have a lot of foliage.

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These are all a variety called Boltardy, Sal’s favourite beetroot. Whilst we have a lot of healthy foliage growth, I’m a little concerned that the roots are not forming properly. This could be due to damage caused during transplantation. We will let them grow for another couple of weeks and see what happens.

I have sowed more beetroot in modules…. a majority being the Albino White beetroot. Ha! I plan to plant these out when the seedlings are about an inch tall and see if this makes any difference to the root formation. It may just be that beetroot has to be grown in situ. To avoid disappointment, I sowed masses of Boltardy on plot one. Hopefully, between the module experiment and this latest sowing on plot one, we’ll get something.

I planted some Mikado oriental spinach plants that I grew at home. All the seeds we have sown in situ have been a disaster. The seeds germinate and we see young seedlings emerge only for them to be eaten by slugs and snails. We’ve managed to grow only one plant successfully in situ!

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Mikado is an excellent plant. It has delicious tasting, tender leaves and it’s less likely to bolt in hot temperatures, unlike spinach which is such a temperamental plant! I’ve only managed to grow ONE spinach plant, a variety called Renegade. It’s on plot two with the courgettes. I’m waiting for it to bolt!

The weekly feeding of the sweet corn with organic seaweed fertiliser certainly seems to be helping the plants development. The plants have become a much darker green, and they are starting to produce a second, and in a few cases, a third stem.

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And finally, the raspberries are ripening and they are delicious. What a treat.

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Posted in Allotment Journal
2 comments on “Allotment Journal: Weekly update
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