The last of the leeks were harvested this week and the beds dug over in time for the potatoes to go in on the Easter weekend. The harvest weighed 1.25kg.
For those of you who follow this blog you may remember that when I planted these leeks, a third of them were planted with black drain pipe around them to ‘blanche’ the stems and produce longer whiter shanks. Well this was definitely a success!
The leeks with pipe around them grew taller but generally were thinner than their non-pipe counterparts as you can see in the picture below. Although the leeks were thinner, more of the leek was usuable so it is something that we will definitely do again!
I hope your allotments/gardens are still bearing fruit and you not in the hungry gap like me!
We lifted two thirds of the remaining leeks this week. We have to make way for the potatoes which will go in the ground Easter weekend so we have three weekends to lift the rest of the leeks, dig over the ground and enrich the soil in time for the spuds! Weather permitting of course!
So we harvested 3.25kg of leeks this week. Two thirds have been chopped up and frozen whilst a third have been distributed to fellow colleagues!
Another week, another post about harvesting rhubarb and leeks! It is literally all I have in the allotment (I apologise if I bore you – its the best way for me to keep track of what I am harvesting)!
So I harvested 1.25kg of leeks this week, all to go in the freezer to use of the summer, and 1.27kg of forced rhubarb, which will also be stewed and frozen into two batches for crumble or pie another time!
That is it for the forced rhubarb now as will let the crown rest for the remainder of the year. My other (non-forced) rhubarb crowns are growing quite well and I will soon be inundated with rhubarb and not enough ideas with what to do with it!
I am also acutely aware that other than the leeks, which will be cleared this coming weekend, I don’t have anything else to harvest in the allotment! Now is the time to plan so that this time next year my allotment will still be producing plenty!
This week I have harvested all my remaining parsnips so I could get the bed ready for the next lot of seeds. All in all there was 3.2kg of parsnips to be had. We also harvested a leek for Sam to have in his dinner whilst I was away this week!
Brussels sprouts (yield: 246g) for our Sunday Roast, a leek (yield: 98g) for dinner tonight (Chicken, leek and ham pasta – yummy!) and Kale (yield 444g). We harvested all the usable kale (much of it had been eaten by slugs – little blighters!) at once because I needed the bed to plant strawberry runners. Now I just need to figure out what to do with it!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!!
This month will all be about forward planning and preparing for the winter and the season to come!
1. Water butts!
We have a make-shift water butt on plot 1 which is essentially just a barrel with broken guttering directing rain water to it. Firstly, this doesn’t make full use of the rain available for collecting and secondly, by using a barrel that never gets fully drained (there is no tap at the bottom) and is open-topped we have allowed for very dirty, algae infested water to accumulate (with bird poop mixed in for good measure) which could be the cause of the foot rot we have seen this year on the squash plants. This is my fault for not having cleaned out the barrel regularly but is a hard learnt lesson!
So, this coming weekend my Dad is kindly coming up to install new guttering on the sheds on plot 1 and 3 along with nice new (proper) water butts – to make the most of the falling rain and develop the sustainability of my plots!
It was my aim to have a polytunnel erected at the end of the plot before the autumn/winter sets in. However, currently, where the polytunnel will go is a large mound of weeds, grass and other vegetation we have removed from elsewhere on the plot (not suitable for the compost bin) and a separate pile of rubbish that need to be taken to the tip.
So, one job will be to clear all the non-vegetation rubbish to the tip to tidy up the plot in general. The second job will be to deal with the ever growing mound! We initially thought we could gradually burn it but the weather prevents us from doing this. I have considered covering it and letting it compost down but there is too much bindweed and knotweed in it to warrant using it as compost. This will be something to mull over. Any suggestions would be extremely helpful!
3. Fruit tree pruning
Towards the end of July I will be pruning our fruit trees. Plum and cherry trees require pruning in summer rather than autumn to prevent the risk of diseases developing in the tree. The apples and pears will be pruned to maintain shape and encourage fruiting shoots.The apples also need to have fruitlets thinned out so that we get bigger apples and not lots of small ones!
4. Transplant leeks to final growing positions
The leeks have grown extremely well in the seed bed and they are now slightly thicker than a pencil and ready to be transplanted. They will be moved to their final positions and have pipe placed over them to encourage blanching of the stems and protect the plant from dirt getting in amongst the leaves
5. Fill the carrot bed
I swear I will get this done one day! Last chance to sow carrots so really need to do it this month!
6. Maintain the plots
Whilst doing the above jobs, I will need to carry on weeding and mowing and harvesting and sowing and watering and….., generally keep the plots in a good tidy order!