Its been about a month since I last posted and in that time the allotment has been doing its wonderful thing of producing fruit and vegetables.
The weather this year has been “unhelpful” (to put it mildly). A dry May followed by a wet June (and early July) with some spectacular downpours. None of this has improved the allotment much (except perhaps for the number of slugs) and I’ve had to replace a number of plats and sowings as the slugs have done their worst. The strawberries have been particularly badly hit with about 50% of the crop either slugged or hit by mould. So the crop this year was significantly down on previous years. The only good thing is that the weather seems to have encouraged a lot of growth so, hopefully, we’ll get a bigger crop next year.
Its been something similar with the redcurrants, the bush has put on a lot of growth but overall we’ve had a much smaller crop this year. On the other hand, the rhubarb has done well and, looking at the gooseberries, I have a feeling we will get an adequate (though not spectacular) crop with lots of growth needing to be cut back.
The summer raspberries are beginning to crop and the autumn fruited variety (Polka) has put on masses of growth and will perhaps make up for any shortfalls in the other fruit.
With Blackcurrants, Blackberries and apples of various sorts to come later, overall my feeling is that the fruit harvest will be down on previous years but plenty to keep us going.
The vegetables, however, are more of a mixed bag. I made the decision not to grow Garlic, Onions and Leeks because of a combination of Whiterot and Leek Moth and that doesn’t appear to have been a wrong decision as it gave more space to other things.
The potatoes are difficult to decide about yet. I dug up the first roots the other day and had a small handful of largish potatoes from the Red Duke of York so my concern is that (for whatever reason) the crop will not be large this year.
Similarly the beans at the allotment are struggling to get started, the cold and wet is certainly not helping. However, the dwarf french beans in the polytunnel are growing strongly and cropping well, giving us more than enough beans and there may be a need to make some bean chutney (which I really like). The peas on the other hand are doing well with enough extra to need to be frozen (although fresh peas are by far the best way to eat them). This year I dedicated a whole bed to peas and sowed/planted four 10ft rows. The first and second lots are doing well with the second just starting to take over but the third and fourth are not doing anything like as well. I think this shows that I’ve got to make sure the peas are in early.
The courgettes and squashes have behaved peculiarly. I’ve battled with slugs and had to replant a number of plants but now the courgettes are doing well. However, the squashes are struggling to get going and seem to have been attacked by far more slugs – maybe they are coming out from the less well cultivated plot to the west of me and have filled up before they reach the courgettes. The one plant in the polytunnel is also doing well and producing a couple of courgettes every other day. It looks like we’ll be on courgette soup before much longer.
So that’s it. My impression is that overall it will be a poor year (glad that the supermarket isn’t far away) but my plan of working full and half beds only certainly seems to be reducing the amount of work needed to keep the weeds at bay.