Allotment Journal: Weekly update

At the end of last week there was the most amazing storm. It had been a beautifully sunny day, it was around 8pm and I was outside on one of my balconies watering the seedling when suddenly the light levels started to drop. I looked out to sea and I was fortunate enough to witness a rare Tsunami cloud formation rolling in along the coast. After a period of eery stillness, the winds whipped up to gale force and then the heavens opened. We received the most almighty downpour.

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This much needed heavy rain certainly gave all the plants a boost. All three plots are flourishing. The rain soaked deep into the ground, we didn’t have to water for a few days despite temperatures soaring up towards 30 degrees.

With the ground softened by the rain, I decided to dig out the remaining weed mound on plot 2. We are desperate for more space to plant up the leeks seedlings.

It took a couple of days to work through the mound, removing  each couch weed root and every fragment of bindweed root, not to mention re-composting all the vegetation that still needs to rot down. Any excess soil was just simply added back onto the plot.

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Finally, we were mound free..

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and we created a new vegetable bed at the back of plot two.

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We planted three rows of Bleu De Solaise leeks, on the left,  and a row of the Bulgarian Giant leeks, my experimental leek of the year.

On plot one, the Tayberry plants had come to the end of their season. They looked horribly messy and it was time to remove the netting.

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Having not really thought this through properly, I didn’t bank on the Tayberries vigorous new growth actually growing through the netting. This made it extermely difficult to remove the netting. It was quite a lengthy process as I had to carefully cut the net directly surrounding each new stem as I didn’t want to damage any of the new growth. Tayberries are floricanes, meaning next years fruit is produced on this years new growth. Once free of the netting I pruned the old growth from the plant leaving just this years growth.

Note to self: create a different netting structure next year!

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Later in the season we will need to ‘train’ the new stems thus preventing this unruly plant from getting totally out of control! Good luck with that one!

On the orchard plot I managed to harvest some plums

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This is the first year we have enjoyed ripened fruit from our trees. As we inherited the plum tree we have no idea what the variety is. I was hoping it would be a greengage but it’s a type of yellow plum. Saying that, I’m not disappointed at all, the flavour is incredible, fresh and fragrant yet sweet. It may be Early Golden or Shiro. I will investigate.

The pears on the small pear tree are still doing well. I’m hoping that we will have some pears to try this year too. I know the variety of this tree is a Doyenne du Comice as there was still a label on the tree when we arrived at the plot.

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The poppy plants on the orchard plot are growing really well.

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The plants are now roughly a foot tall and the flower head is just beginning to unfurl… As you can see in the background I have ‘liberally’ scattered organic pet friendly slug bait pellets around the plants to protect them from snail and slug attack. You can’t be too careful!

The Blue Banana squash has one fruit and it’s growing at quite a pace. It should grow to about 45 cm long, so still a long way to go. We also have two Waltham Butternut squashes! You can see one in the background.

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I harvested the remaining red onions and shallots.

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And filled the space by planting some parsley; curly and flat leafed.

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The dill plants are flowering and this should produce some lovely seed that we can use for cooking.

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Back on plot two the sweet corn is now in pollination mode. This will last about 10 days and it’s a critical phase.

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The male tassels at the top of the plant have fanned out and the flowers have started to dangle down. These flowers are full of yellow pollen and it’s at this stage the pollen is released. As the wind blows through the tassels the pollen should be ‘carried’ on the wind current to the female silks below.

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There’s not been too much wind this week and you can see the pollen has dropped and collected on the plants leaf. Each strand of the ‘female’ silks needs a grain of pollen in order for each kernels to form properly on the cob.

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I have been manually pollinating some of the silks with this pollen. It looks rather odd but I’m hoping it will pay off.

We have encountered a few pollination obstacles this year, aphids and a lack of wind so only time will tell what the quality of our corn will be like this year.

But the good news is that cobs are beginning to form. Hopefully the lovely hot weather to continue, helping to ripen the cobs. The cobs should be ready to harvest towards the end of August into September. Better make some room in that freezer!

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We’ve also been harvesting many, many courgettes from our SEVEN plants. Each plant is producing 2 to 3 courgettes a week.

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The slugs are rather partial to the flowers! And it’s always the largest slimiest ones!

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We continue to harvest peas but they are beginning to come to the end of their season.

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I think I’m too late to sow more but I’ve discovered a new variety of pea on the Real Seed Catalogue website. It’s called Lord Leicester. Another very rare, tall variety and it produces peas over a much longer period. It starts flowering in March and is said to continue producing peas until the end of the season… I will definitely try this variety next year.

I’m currently saving seeds from the Champion of England plants. I will sow these seeds in situ next spring. You can never have too many pea plants!!!

The Borlotti beans are coming along nicely

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We plan to pick some fresh beans but also to allow others pods to dry out naturally on the plant. The dried beans will be stored and later used during the winter months in soups and stews.

And finally, I saw these caterpillars on an abandoned plot… eating Scarlett Pimpernel weeds would you believe!

They are Cinnabar Moth Caterpillars. The Cinnabar moth is the most beautiful black and red moth.

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I saw a Cinnabar moth briefly, fluttering around the allotment, it was impossible to photograph, so  yet again I have shamefully stolen an image, this time from southwestscotland-butterflies.org.uk website. Sorry and thank you people of South west scotland butterflies, I hope you don’t mind but I think this moth is a thing a beauty.

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Posted in Allotment Journal
6 comments on “Allotment Journal: Weekly update
  1. Good post. I definitely appreciate this site.
    Keep it up!

  2. Adele says:

    Great post. I am dealing with some of these issues as well..

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