June and July: the allotment update

There seems to be a bit of a pattern emerging here doesn’t there.  That is, not keeping up with the posts.  And it’s not just the posts I’ve fallen behind with – some parts of the allotment have been lacking attention too.

But never mind, as ever, there’s still next year (and the one after that).  I do have plans for the future, and now I have time to put the plans into action.

2016-06-28 17.27.47

So, back to the present.  As ever, June is the month where everything starts producing for real, and in July it really takes off.

I harvested the onions and garlic – a good crop of onions again, marred only by the beginnings of neck rot in some of them when the weather was relentlessly wet and I hadn’t yet brought them in; my best-ever crop of garlic – heads that look like other people’s garlic, rather than my usual teeny tiny misfits.  And tasty too.

We began eating the new potatoes as always early in July.  Absolutely wonderful, as they always are.  We usually cook enough for two meals at a time, and eat them plain boiled the first night and then as a salad or crisped or fried over second time around.

At the end of July, the main crop potatoes are ready for harvest, but they will have to wait until I have time.  I’m just hoping I won’t lose too many in the meantime to blight and slugs.

Courgettes have been producing in abundance since mid June, and the cucumbers have now joined them.  Unlike some people, I can never have too many of either of these crops, and will happily eat them every day.  Plus I give some of them away to family and friends.  Which is lucky.

2016-06-28 17.27.26

After a slow start, the rhubarb has gone bonkers and is growing like mad.  I’ve given lots away, and have some in the freezer to use during the winter.  I love it, Malcolm hates it, so I don’t bother with pies crumbles or the rest, just plain lightly stewed with root ginger and some sugar – perfect with plain yogurt.

The strawberries have been fantastic this year and truly delicious, but unfortunately we went away just when they were at their peak and came back when they were over.    No strawberry jam for us this year, despite the abundance.  Lesson learnt.

Another great success story has been broad beans.  Despite me getting the autumn sown ones both sowed and planted out late they have done us proud, and for the first time ever was able to pick and enjoy early broad beans, and I’ve now picked the last of them.  Definitely one to repeat.

2016-06-28 17.55.27

This year I got the tomatoes planted out slightly earlier than usual and this too has paid off.  We’re not getting so many we can’t keep up, but a steady flow of a few ripe tomatoes each day is more than welcome.  I do still need to find some tastier varieties though – I’m finding these a little bland.

That row of autumn-fruiting raspberries I began planting last year and finished this spring has done brilliantly, and is already producing fruit.  Again, they need to be picked regularly several times a week, and being away hasn’t aided that.  More thought needed for next year and beyond I think.

My very late sowing of climbing french beans seems to have succeeded in evading the slugs and snails, so far at least, and I have high hopes of having enough beans to keep us happy for a while.  These were planted from seed I saved last year.  I’d like to do more seed saving and swapping in future.

2016-08-01 10.46.40

The hens are doing very well, and producing plenty of eggs for us and our children whenever we see them.  I have several friends and neighbours very happy to look after them when we’re away, which involves little more than visiting them once a day to top up their water, make sure they’re well, and collecting the eggs.  This month I bought a large hopper feeder, which means I can leave them a month’s food at a time.  I’ve made a covered space behind the hen house for this, which has also freed up some space inside the henhouse.   There are two current problems – one is some pecking (which I’m trying to treat / prevent using Stockholm Tar), and the other is the ever-present foxes – my neighbour lost all his hens a couple of weeks ago, so vigilance and sturdy fencing is definitely required.  Both of which I have, but it does need a careful eye on the integrity of the fencing.

2016-07-31 12.50.55

Still to come

I managed to sow and plant out a few leeks ready for the winter.  Not as many as I intended, but better than the none-at-all I managed last year.

I am hopeful that my globe artichoke (moved several times but hopefully now in its final position) will produce some flower buds later this year.  If not this, then I’m sure next.

Some but not all of the asparagus roots have taken – I hope enough for it to look more like an asparagus bed next year, and who knows, maybe for us to cut some the year after that.

The apple trees all have some fruit on them, though not nearly as much as last year.

And now the fails.

Several attempts at growing parsley have failed this year.  Likewise, rocket, carrots, coriander and spring onions.  Slugs and snails did for all of them.  I planted three squash plants, only two of which have survived.  Same problem I fear.

Peas and mangetout you already know about

I decided not to risk sweetcorn this year, as my badger baricades are not yet complete and I know I have no hope of success without them.

Fruit – I have neglected the soft fruit bushes a bit this year, but plan to do more on that part of my allotment during the autumn and winter, ready for a good season next year.  Having moved the gooseberry, blackcurrant and redcurrant bushes, late in the spring to their new long-term home, it’s not surprising that I haven’t had much from them.

Flowers – a few of the flowers I planted out succeeded (mainly the marigolds and nasturtiums) but most went the same sluggy way as the rest of the fails.

2016-08-01 10.47.23

Future plans

I have some more construction plans, including making the fencing more secure, more stable, and prettier.  I want to tidy up and plant the small area where I have my mini shed, including creating a small covered sitting space for when the rain comes down, and put up some guttering to fill the water butt there.  There’s nothing quite like being inside/outside when its raining, I just love it.  And I want to grow something over the shed.  I’m still considering a kiwi.

Beauty is a must as far as I’m concerned, and next year I want to create a flower cutting bed.  This requires me to completely clear the old raspberry bed, now overgrown with couch grass and docks.  Not a pretty sight at the moment, but it will be.  Just give me time.

The plans must also include fitting in keeping the allotment productive (and increasing the productivity still further) alongside going away for periods of time.  I want to work out how best to do this: to achieve a balance between enjoying being out there, and enjoying being away other places.  I think this mostly means me finding a rhythm that works for me and my growing, and for us as a couple with more time on our hands.  I don’t want to be constantly saying no to spontaneous trips so that I can catch up with myself, or stick to a self-imposed routine.


About deborah @ the magic jug

Now I've passed 60 I'm still doing all sorts of things I haven't done before, as well as carrying on with the things I already love. I live a happy life with my long term love Malcolm. In my blog I explore local and low tech ideas, food, growing, making, reading, thinking, walking, and lots of other words ending in 'ing'.
This entry was posted in Allotment, Food, Frugal, Gap year, Growing, Local, Local food, Retirement, Travels, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to June and July: the allotment update

  1. wendoxford says:

    Oooh it all looks very Sarah Raven…fabulous!


    • Ha ha! in real life it really doesn’t look ‘all Sarah Raven” Wendy!! I’ve picked the good bits, not the beds where there’s nothing to see, or the bed with the lettuces gone to seed, or the ….I could go on, but you get the picture. Still, I like to dream, and the whole plot looking this good one day, well that’s a dream to hold on to and follow.


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