A photographic plot update

I don’t seem to have shown many plot pictures lately, so I’m making up for that in this post. We had a very dry July in East Anglia and the plot was looking a bit sorry for itself a few weeks ago, but now that we’ve had some rain things have picked up a bit, which unfortunately includes the weeds, but after the drought we’ve had, even the weeds are a welcome sight. I never thought I’d say that!

I’ll take you round the plot alphabetically, first up blackberries. This is one plant of Oregon Thornless that was planted in November 2008, and has completely taken over the side and back of the shed. If you’re working anywhere near it, a branch will suddenly break loose and whiplash you like some triffid. It’s a good job it’s thornless. I was hoping to make blackberry jam last summer, but I didn’t quite have enough fruit . . .

. . . this year, however, that shouldn’t be a problem so long as I don’t get a very greedy bird visit me at the last minute.

The brassicas (calabrese, purple sprouting broccoli and cabbages) are all doing quite well. Some have been nibbled and some have a bit of white fly, but they’re growing strongly anyway. This is one of the calabrese plants that has been growing under a fleece tunnel.

This is one of the red cabbages growing under environfleece, it really is the best thing for keeping off the cabbage white butterflies.

My Chrysanthemums that were very successful last year, are just starting to flower. I’m looking forward to having vases full of flowers around the house again. I did loose a couple of plants over winter, but those that survived have bulked up well. To produce big flowers you should really reduce the number of stems so that all the plants energy goes into those few flowers,  but personally I go for masses of smaller flowers.

I have sown mustard seed over the bottom section of the plot where the onions were growing. I don’t have anything to plant here until next year, so rather than allowing the soil to be taken over with weeds, the idea is to plant a green manure that will quickly cover the ground. I sowed this less than a week ago. The mustard will hold onto nutrients in the soil that would otherwise be washed away by the rain, and then when you dig the manure back into the soil (a few weeks before needing the space for planting or sowing) the nutrients are released back into the soil as the plants break down. Some green manures also have flowers which are very attractive and valuable to insects, so it’s a great organic method that is really worth doing if you have spare ground.

The autumn fruiting raspberries are just starting to ripen, at least those at the sunny end of the row.

I’m growing lots more squashes this year, as they’re so easy to grow, the winter varieties store very well, they look fantastic and are delicious. This is a heritage variety called Chicago Warted Hubbard. Introduced in Chicago in 1894. Over time this will become more wrinkly and warted (such is life) but will be the most beautiful bright orange on the inside. I have placed a cushion of straw under each fruit so that they don’t sit on wet ground where they might rot. The straw will also give them a bit more warmth.

These are Turks Turbans. Very decorative fruit. They would look better than a pumpkin on Halloween. I’m also growing some butternut squashes, but they’re typically a bit late to develop.

My sweetcorn is doing very well. It seemed to thoroughly thrive in the dry heat of last month, though I’m sure is thankful for some rain. It’s now taller than me (I’m 5ft 5 thereabouts). Can’t wait for the first sweetcorn cobs.

Finally my tomatoes. I have sprayed them against blight to be on the safe side, as we’ve had a fair bit of rain lately which is the perfect condition for the spread of the disease. Last year I sprayed them at the first sign of blight which was too late, and I lost the lot to green tomato chutney. So I’ve probably been too hasty this year, but I had noticed a few brown patches on the bottom of some tomatoes and feared it was either the start of blight, or blossom end rot. I’m now convinced (after consultation with a more experienced allotmenteer) that it is blossom end rot, which is something that occurs through a lack of water. You can’t win! But luckily only a few are affected and the rest should be fine.

Not pictured but also growing well are the root crops, carrots, swedes and beets. Spring onions, lettuce and courgettes are being harvested and eaten. And my beans are doing okay, not brilliantly, but so so.

Next job on the agenda is to lift the potatoes. It never stops.

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