Allotment Journal: Weekly update

This week we caught the tail end of Tropical storm Bertha. Not only did she deliver a LOT of rain, she also brought exceptionally strong winds. These winds wreaked havoc, especially with the clearly structurally unsound, heavily laden legume wig-wams!

The borlotti’s keeled over…



And one of the French bean wig-wams collapsed into a heap


Thinking those beautiful twisted willow poles maybe more style than substance! They certainly snap fairly easily.

I’ve had to prop them all up… aesthetically, it’s not pleasing. Such a sad sight, the Borlotti’s have a bit of a lean…. I’m being kind when I say a BIT.


And the French beans are just about hanging in there with the help of a few bamboo canes


The other problem we’ve encountered is the emergence of many, many slugs and snails …. they love the rain. I made a lovely platter for the chickens from the ones I found in and around the borlotti beans…. although even the chickens turn their beaks up at the hideously large slimey Spanish slugs, they get hurled over the fence on to a country foot path…that’s the slugs not the chickens, naturally!


On the plus side, the rain has sunk deep into the ground. The plants are flourishing and the ground has softened up tremendously, we can dig once more.

The slugs and snails brutally attacked the Red Russian kale!


I also found them in with the parsnips and they started to nibble the tops of the parsnip root…. that’s a NO…so I removed a lot of the foliage that was either turning yellow or draping across the ground. This has allowed light and air in and it will hopefully discourage those slimey pests from visiting.


I check the parsnips daily to remove any unwanted pests and whilst rummaging through the foliage I saw this incredible moth resting by a parsnip.


It’s a Garden Tiger moth. It’s rare and a protected species. Numbers in the UK have declined dramatically over the past 30 years, down 89%. They are incredibly striking and reasonably large.

I stole the photo below from so I can show you what it looks like with its wings expanded. No two moths are exactly the same, all the patterns are all slightly different. I have to say seeing something so rare and beautiful certainly made my day. Nature never ceases to amaze me.


The caterpillar is extraordinarily hairy… also known as a  ‘wooly bear’. I’m hoping to see many of these little fellas in years to come. (photo from


We harvested our first sweetcorn cob. This variety is a hybrid called Swift F1. I’m rather pleased with the outcome.


Pollination looks good, we have plenty of kernels on this cob. It’s incredibly tender, so tender that it’s possible to eat it raw. BUT I love hot sweetcorn served with lashings of butter. I boil it for a minute and a half. The taste is sweet and rich. Smiles with contentment!


On the orchard plot it was time to prune the plum tree.  It seems the fruit trees have been neglected for a number of years. Last year we failed to harvest a single plum, this year we had about a dozen and they were delicious . Yellow gages.. Yum. We have to bring this tree back to its full glory.


Apart from a lack of fruit the tree appears healthy, there’s lots of green foliage and new growth.

We pruned out any branches that were

  • diseased or dead
  • those that were growing in towards the centre of the tree
  • any that crossed over
  • and finally we pruned the new growth by half, cutting at an outward facing bud

We then gave the tree a jolly good feed of organic seaweed fertiliser.

Post prune the tree is thinned out, allowing more light to get in and much better air circulation.  We have maintained the traditional goblet shape.. albeit slightly lopsided!


The Wathham butternut squash has turned from green to a more traditional yellowish colour.


It’s not as massive, only about 7 inches long, but that may be due to the quality of the soil, it’s not great. Squashes are heavy feeders and I’ve not really paid them much attention. We planted these squashes more for ground cover around the fruit trees than to produce crops.

The ‘Barry Leeks’ leeks are growing rather well and I’ve managed to dig in some of that hideous trench. Although it’s still looking rather unsightly.


The courgette plants have slowed up and aren’t producing many courgettes. We harvested just 5 courgettes this week. I think they may be coming to end of their season sadly.

The strawberry plants have started to flower again! We may be fortunate enough to get a second crop but I doubt they will be that sweet. Jam!


But we still have raspberries


These are from the Malling Jewel AGM plant. The flavour is incredible. I plan to buy more plants next year so we will eventually get a decent crop of the most amazing tasting raspberries.

This pear has been severely damaged by scab.


But the pears on the smaller Comice du Doyenne tree are looking great.


And finally


Posted in Allotment Journal

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August 2014
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