Back in July…
It’s been so long since I’ve posted and the allotment has changed a bit since my last post! All seemed to be going well, with the exception of the usual war against the weeds. Then Ashley and I spent a week travelling through Devon and up to Hereford in a friends camper van and, of course, upon our return we were met with overgrown weeds, a tangled mess of rogue tomato plants/lettuce/anything else that happened to be in that bed, salad and radishes that had bolted, our fruit cage and sunflowers that had been totally destroyed by the wind! To be honest, the state of the allotment got us down a bit and we felt it was a bit past saving/getting anything useful from it this year. However, 2 trips that were solely focused on getting the paths and weeds cleared have made it all seem a bit brighter. Our main problem seemed to be that the weeds would grow up the fencing that we had put in and we struggled to keep seeds from that spreading across the allotment. Also, as it was an unused field before we started using it, the dock and nettles were very persistent across the entire plot. So using some blue carpet that we had obtained, we spent a good number of hours cutting it to fit and covering all pathways and surrounding areas bordering our plot. We had to dig up the fencing (as we’d buried it to stop the rabbits getting in) and laid the carpet underneath that too. Now we’ve done that, everything else seems more manageable and even though we’re behind with planting it feels like we might get some produce this year.
We had planted a small bed of potatoes, but they have all been hit by blight so had to be dug up a bit early. The potatoes we did get look great, there’s just not very many and I had hoped to keep them in the ground until I needed them.
On the good side, our peas are coming on well and we’ve had a few picking from them with more to come, the rhubarb is ENORMOUS, the onions look like they’re coming on well and the runner and dwarf french beans have plenty of flowers on. I’ve had an endless supply of sweet pea flowers to pick for the house and there have been plenty of fruits on the raspberries – although of course the birds are getting them all since the fruit cage was destroyed by bad weather! I don’t mind sharing with the birds…this year!
Well, I haven’t done a very good job of updating this blog and an even worse job of looking after the allotment this year!
I was talked into going to go back to work full time at the beginning of August (I’ve worked part time for several years now) and that unfortunately left very little time for the allotment (or anything else really!). Full time soon turned into 60-80 hours a week at work and any time off left me completely unmotivated to do much. So by mid September I had made the decision to go back to my part time hours and at the beginning of October, I breathed a huge sigh of relief!
During July and the beginning of August, we were harvesting fairly reasonable amounts of peas and runner beans, rhubarb and were hopeful for many other crops. Unfortunately, disaster struck and on one of our sporadic visits to the allotment we were met with our runner bean supports all toppled over, squash plants (that we hadn’t planted – must have not rotten down properly in the compost!) smothering seedlings and other plants, garlic destroyed by rust and everything generally in a very sorry state. We decided there and then to harvest everything we could at that point (a reasonable amount of runner beans, a few small carrots, some beetroot and one lonely little fennel bulb that had survived the smothering by squash plant!) and mulch most of the beds with fresh horse manure then cover with some black plastic we had. We left the onions growing a little longer and a couple of kale plants that were doing well, plus a squash plant and what I thought was a courgette plant that hadn’t produced anything so far.
In September, we harvested the onions which were wonderful specimens! We intended to head back again soon to clear and mulch the remainder of the beds but, of course, that ended up being several weeks later! The weeds certainly took advantage of this and when we returned in October were faced with what seemed like a monumental task! Just 2 visits of a couple of hours each put the weeds in their place! We were able to harvest several squash that had done well left completely on their own and 3 superb pumpkins that had grown on what I thought was a courgette plant! We dug up all of the Jerusalem artichoke (later finding out that they are best stored in the ground – still, we wanted every bed as clear as possible) and cut back the raspberries and blackcurrants. We have left one bed ‘open’ with the kale growing and will hopefully plant some broad beans in it soon.
I’m hopeful that we will be more committed to the allotment over winter and next year – It’s totally our fault that things haven’t gone so well this year, allotments take a lot of time and work and we just haven’t been going regularly enough.