Over the last couple of weeks, it seems that summer has really arrived.
The allotment is now “full” with Courgettes, Winter Squash, Sweetcorn, Carrots, Beetroot, Parsnips, Swiss Chard, Onions, Potatoes, Peas, French Beans, Brassicas, Broad Beans, Lettuce, Kohl Rabi, Garlic, and probably some other things I can’t remember whether I’ve planted them or not.
By “Full” what I mean is that until the spring cabbage, garlic and the first of the broad beans are harvested all I can do is dot things about in the gaps.
For the first time this year I’ve been “good” and planted stuff far enough apart to be able to hoe between the rows. Normally I plant everything in rows about 4 inches apart which means that its impossible to get the hoe up between the rows and everything has to be weeded by hand. This year, the rows are six inches apart and the hoe fits nicely between the rows of carrots and things and as a result weeding is much reduced.
I think that everybody is experiencing a late harvest this year, we’ve yet to have our first strawberries from the allotment, by this time last year we were well into the glut and they were nearly finished. However, they are growing strongly and it looks like we will have a good harvest. We have had some alpine strawberries from the tubs at home but these are the ones that overwintered in the polytunnel.
The raspberries are also looking strong as are the blackberries but the gooseberries have been had by sawfly and we’re not going to get much of a harvest.
We’ve been picking swiss chard (overwintered), lettuce, radishes and wet garlic and we’ve also had the first of the spring cabbage (a bit late but they were really hammered by the snow in winter.
The polytunnel is all planted as you can see, never one to sit still and do the same thing every year, this year we’ve planted our tomatoes direct into the soil with strings put up for them to grow up, rather than canes. The problem with canes in a polytunnel is getting them all the way up to the roof so you end up with a couple of feet of unsupported plant (well we did last year). The big pots are our bush tomatoes which will go outside when the weather is warmer and/or when there isn’t room for them in the tunnel. The small pots are peppers (chilli and sweet) which will probably move to the edge of the border as the tomatoes grow.
As ever, we’re growing lots of tomatoes (beefsteak, cherry and standard, with all the variety of colours we can manage) but we’re dependent upon the weather being good to allow them to ripen. Last year we had a poor harvest with an average of only 10 tomatoes per plant (although some of those weighed over 1lb so we had a reasonable quantity for the freezer) I’m hoping that this year will be better.
Behind you (as the picture goes) are two cucumbers in pots which are at the cooler end of the tunnel and a “pallet table” which allows us to continue to get seedlings germinated while the tunnel is full of tomatoes. One thing were going to try and do this year is to put some of the pots up in the air. Last year we grew some standard sized, determinate tomatoes (Heinz-9129) and whilst they did quite well, the tomatoes were on the ground and some go eaten by slugs so by putting them on the table we’ll hope to keep them clear of the ground.
If you want to see more about our tomatoes go to our website (www.pelicanplants.co.uk/tomatoes-a-z).