Well, the Jubilee weekend was a bit of a wash out for some, but we managed two days on the allotment, and have made great progress, so no complaints from us. We also managed to fit in lots of shopping, cooking, film watching, dog walking, pub frequenting, and quite a lot of washing-up as ever. Thankfully, back to sitting at our computers for a rest now.
So, all the tender vegetables have been planted out now. Butternut squashes are in the foreground, the sweetcorn is just off to the left, 2 rows of tomatoes in the middle, and then the beans at the top.
I dug a couple of trenches for the beans, and lined them with some old ripped up paperwork (it’s one way to safely dispose of bank statements) with grass clipping thrown over the top. I scattered over some organic fertiliser before backfilling the trenches. All of this just gives an extra bit of organic material for the beans to get their roots into. The deeper and more you can fill the trenches the better.
I then constructed an A frame of bamboo canes, using some new handy little plastic clips for holding the canes together. And then finally the planting. The beans have been grown in these root trainers. For years I used old toilet roll cardboard tubes, which were fine, but had a tendency to disintegrate when they got too wet and so I invested in some of these last year. I have to say they are brilliant and well worth the money. Firstly, they have ridges which encourage the roots to go down, rather than wrapping around in circles, and then when it comes to planting time, they easily pop open allowing you to tip the plants out with a minimum of disturbance. After two years use they are showing no sign of deterioration and I hope will last me a few more years yet.
After planting and gently tying in (two plants per pole), I placed a bottomless plastic bottle in front of each pole for watering into. This ensures the water gets down to the roots and not across the surface of the soil where it evaporates quickly.
And then the tomatoes have been planted with little wigwams of canes for support when they need it. I pinched this idea from a fellow allotment holder. One of the great benefits of growing on an allotment is that you get ideas and inspiration from all around you. Last year I didn’t support my toms at all, and they were a bit of a mess quite frankly. They were fine until the fruits started to swell, and then gravity took hold and most of the tomatoes ended up on the ground, attacked by slugs. You could just place a single cane next to each plant, but these structures should be a bit more sturdy, so I’ll see how they get on. It’s all still a big experimental learning curve, and probably always will be!