This has been my most productive summer ever on the allotment – although the British weather still manages to cause problems – with extreme weather now apparently the norm rather than the exception. But periods of drought, heatwave, cold snaps and heavy rains aside, I am now producing masses and masses of home grown and delicious food and the soft fruits in particular have never been better. I have picked kilo after kilo of fresh strawberries from one small raised bed, and the raspberry canes are laden with fruit. It seems never ending, and with the high price of strawberries and raspberries – a great economic benefit too. Oh, and friends and relatives seem happy with tubs of fresh fruit too!
Along with the strawberries and raspberries I have an great supply of rhubarb and we have frozen quite a few pickings of gooseberries. I had four new red and black currant bushes this year, which I salvaged from a couple who were moving house, and those bushes are still settling in – but the birds had a nice time with that crop this year (must net next) – and around the edge of the allotment plots we have about fifteen small apple and pear trees, mostly traditional varieties, which should start to produce fruit in future years.
The other crops that are blossoming this year are squashes (I have endless courgettes and marrows) and a great harvest of broad beans – with runner beans just about to come. The potatoes are looking good (I have earlies, second earlies and main crop) and this year are looking very healthy with no blight. I should be able to harvest in succession and my second earlies are Kestrel and Maris Peer, and then I have Maris Piper as and early maincrop and I have planted a blight resistant maincrop (Sarpo Mira) and then a few Setanta as a late maincrop too (it’s a red, great for roasting, and is pretty disease resistant). The recent rain will have helped with the crop, and hopefully the spuds are fattening up down in the now warm soil.
Less productive was the Asparagus bed which didn’t seem to like the cold although even now there are still a few shoots coming up. And seed germination has been an issue too – I struggled to germinate enough pea and courgette seeds – many simply never came to life despite love and attention! But, a few did come through and next to the asparagus I have a small bed of peas to enjoy – alongside a small bed of red cabbages. These are netted now as they are always a magnet for cabbage white butterflies and whilst I love butterflies – I like my cabbages too!
So, despite the weather – a good year! Barrowload after barrowload of manure seems to have made improvements to the soil, and now we have a functioning water trough filled by gravity from the small beck beside the plots, so I have managed to water (in places of need) through the dry spells – although that is not needed now! We even managed to re-use a couple of tons of scrapings from a local road repair project to re surface our hardstanding area! So everything looks lovely in the allotment gardens …. today!