Wow, it’s been nearly a month since I last posted. How time flies when you’re having fun on the allotment. Or should I say, when you work full time, and then decide to open a shop on Etsy, right at the busiest time of year for allotment gardening. Thank heavens for the extra hours of daylight. I have so much to update you on, so bear with me.
Firstly my over-wintered onions developed a downy mildew on their leaves (you can probably spot it on some of those in the foreground) and so the whole lot had to be lifted. An article on the RHS website tells you to remove and dispose of affected plants. But I’m not having that. Two whole beds of onions I have planted, grown, weeded and tended since autumn to be ‘disposed of’? Oh no! The actual onions haven’t been infected, only the leaves, so I decided to cut the leaves off, allow the onions to dry out and hope for the best. I know they won’t keep for long, but I find the over wintered ones don’t anyway. So we’ve been eating lots of onion dishes (caramelised in tarts, a dopiaza curry, French onion soup) and we haven’t died yet.
But it does mean I should avoid growing any alliums in the same beds for the next few years, which is a pain, as the allium family are our staple. I need to mark each bed with a red cross or something similar, as no doubt I’ll forget where they were.
The mange-tout peas (var. Shiraz) have been a success this year. I’ve failed to grow them well enough in previous years, due to dry spring weather, so I only planted a few in deep scepticism that I’d get a harvest, but now I’m wishing I’d grown a whole row. I have started some more from seed, but these aren’t looking as good, so I might have missed my chance, but we’re enjoying those we have.
The sweetpeas have also started flowering and I seem to have a purple theme going on. Not intended.
We also harvested garlic scapes from the hardneck garlic a few weeks back. A touch of rust had crept in, but mostly they were fine and made a delicious pesto.
The garlic has now all been harvested. The rust was pretty bad as usual, but the bulbs are mostly a good size and once they’ve dried out I’ll trim and discard the rusted leaves. The very small ones are being used as wet garlic, which just means they haven’t been allowed to dry and develop papery skins. They are much easier to use like this, they just pop out of their waxy skins, or some of them can be chopped whole like a small onion. They’re not quite as strong in flavour, but give a nice garlic hint, and they’re also great for roasting whole to make a garlic purée.
The spinach is growing well (thankfully the slugs and snails aren’t keen) and the sweetcorn is too. Nasturtiums have suddenly popped up throughout the squash bed, but I’m quite happy with that. And the courgettes are growing well although two of the plants have already developed mildew, so I’ll have to spray them with something. I think a watery milk solution is supposed to help.
The grass and the weeds have been growing like crazy. The area around the shed is in need of a trim, as much as my dog is in need of a biscuit.
And finally (phew) our first harvest of potatoes. They’re not earlies, they’re technically volunteer potatoes, i.e. those that got left behind in the ground after last years harvest and have regrown. We must have been a bit hopeless at digging one particular row, as about 2/3rds of a row came up, very neat and orderly, in spring. I decided they’re weren’t in the way of anything else, we have room to spare this year, so left them alone. However, they haven’t grown particularly well compared to the potatoes we planted this year, and I could now do with the space for some late leeks, so out they came. They’re an odd mix of yellow and red, but pretty healthy and a welcome crop for very little work.
So everything has now been planted out, except for the later sowing of leeks and some green manure to go in the garlic bed. It’s now simply a case of weeding, weeding, harvesting and weeding. All good fun.
PS: Please have a look at my Etsy shop if you haven’t already. There are some new ‘pea’ prints and cards, and a couple of new flower prints should be listed by the end of the week.