July 2016!

This month was off to a great start with some lovely sunny days and warm temperatures. Everything on the allotment is growing well and we are really starting to harvest things now.

We have been harvesting lettuce and cucumbers all month long and it has been really nice to enjoy a salad that I have grown myself for lunch everyday (my waistline thanks me for it too!). The broad beans have been coming thick and fast, so fast that I have been freezing some away for the winter. The strawberries continued to produce massive yields and again these have also been frozen away as I couldn’t eat them fast enough. Other fruit we have harvested include raspberries, blackcurrants and redcurrants. The blackcurrant yield is the best we have had so far although it is still quite small. I am hoping that over the next few years the yields will grow! We have also had masses of Tenderstem broccoli and calabrese, again some frozen away for the winter, but have decided not to do the Tenderstem again as it quickly flowers in this weather!

 have also harvested a few potatoes, pulling the plants up as and when we need them. All the first earlies have come up and we have dug up half of our second earlies. We have also enjoyed some nice chantenay carrots. Onions have been dug up and are drying in the shed – 157 in total!

Other than harvesting we have been getting on with my list of jobs too. The first weekend of July, my dad came up and installed some nice new water butts on plot 1 and 3. There is currently only one butt per plot but I hope to add to this over the next few months so that we can make the most of the winter rains!

We have been slowly taken most of the non-combustible rubbish to the local tip. We have done this over several trips but have now mostly cleared this rubbish (just a couple more trips to go!). We have also made a small dent on the combustible pile, burning the bindweed and other nasty weeds. Hopefully by the time September come the plies of rubbish will be completely gone and we can concentrate on the polytunnel.

In the second weekend of July, we transplanted the leeks to their final growing positions. Unfortunately there was quite a bit of leek rust on the seedlings so I am not sure how they will fair but I did pick the biggest and least rust covered seedlings to ‘puddle in’. We now have 74 leeks growing on plot 2 with the rest of them being burnt so as to not further spread the rust spores and on 25 of the plants we have placed black pipe around them to get longer blanched stems. It will be interesting to see if they turn out better than the ones without pipe.

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Finally after probably two years, we have  a functional carrot bed. Those of you who regularly read this blog will know that we finally erected the carrot bed a few months ago, well now we have filled it with a mixture of sand, seed compost and multipurpose compost. It is about 1/3 full which is enough to grow some decent carrots in for now but we will fill it up some more next season. I have sown four varieties of carrots, which I know is a little late, but seedlings are poking their heads through so hopefully we shall get some carrots to enjoy over the winter!

We have continued work on the herb garden as well, adding some nice new herbs and plants, a bench, and archway and a clematis to grow up said archway. We have also been pulling up the wild strawberries as they have gotten a little out of control It will take a while for the perennial herbs to really get established so I will be filling the gaps with some annual flowers to attract the bees and butterflies. Last weekend we also installed a bird feeding station to attract wild birds to the plots!

The cherry and plum tree both got a nice haircut and am hoping will be a little more re-invigorated for it!

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The strawberries have come to an end in the last week and so the job of clearing and trimming has begun in the strawberry bed. I have dug up a considerable number of runners that have been allowed to set down roots and they have been potted on in troughs ready for setting up a new strawberry bed. About four ‘Elsanta’ plants died – I think from the lack of rain – so they have been replaced with some ‘Cambridge favourite’ runners. Half the bed is done – just need to get on with the other half!

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One side of the bed is done – now onto the other half!

Other than these jobs, it has been a constant stream of weeding, mowing and tending to plants, with breaks to sit by the pond and look at all the life that has inhabited our pond. A rather large frog has taken up residence in the pond and we have also spied several little frogs too! Exciting times! We also have two resident pond snails, water boatmen and thousand of tiny little creatures swimming around – don’t know what they are!  Bees are in abundance and I can tell that we are still being visited by Peter Rabbit as the barley straw is regularly being dug up!

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Can you see the frog? We counted at least ten frogs in our allotment over the last weekend!
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Water level is quite low and a lot of the pond liner is visible!

Unfortunately, with little rain over the last couple of weeks, the pond level had gotten quite low. I thought it would be a good idea to do some rain dances to get the water flowing (my neighbours where looking at me rather strangely!)…and it worked! The last few days have been nice and wet, watering my plants and topping up the pond!!

'Well, when I've tried everything and it still hasn't rained, I wash the car.'

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