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Erratic Rains and Re-using.

My Leeks went in where the Broad Beans had been at the start of July and I got the timing just right, because we had a few nice days of rain immediately afterwards. It doesn’t matter how much watering you do – nothing beats Nature and its life-giving rain. The seeds of the Radish Mooli came up nicely after the showers as well and being fairly deep rooted, once started, they should grow away without anymore attention.
However, the erratic weather did cause many of my lovely looking Turnips to go to seed. When this happens you get a very woody layer forming on the outside around a soft and edible centre. It can be so tough that it is very difficult to cut into the vegetable at all. Fortunately my Beetroot didn’t bolt because the variety was called “Boltardy,” and true to their name, they are resistant to bolting. The showers did come nicely though for my early, or Summer Raspberries and they cropped very well with the juiciest ever fruit and the largest quantity since they were planted a few years ago. Admittedly, the “Canes,” did take a while to get established, but even so, dry weather in earlier Summers, on previous years, always reduced the crop. About the same time as the Raspberries were ready, I picked my Logan Berries, but as usual I was not very impressed with the quantity which was a bit disappointing as in the winter, along with all my other fruit, I had spent quite a bit of time on pruning out dead and untidy growth, and tying them up properly.
My first planting of Chard went to seed with the earlier dry weather, but here again the more frequent rains of late has meant that my later planting has been doing very well with regular pickings of lovely, large, luscious, green leaves and sturdy, strong, bright white stalks.
The Garlic was not very good, because quite surprisingly it needs water to develop well and the dry start to the season did it no favours. I didn’t plant any of the over wintering, early Onions which are normally ready at the start of July, a good month before the Spring plantings, but my others are coming on nicely with the occasional showers.

The tops on my Early Potatoes were not very good after being burned by the late frosts in May, but when I actually dug a few Haulms up, the Potatoes underneath weren’t too bad at all. There weren’t that many, but there were some nice sized ones amongst them. The Pink Fir Apple variety were supposed to be a Main Crop, although I put them in early and they flowered early, as if they were ready, but when I dug them up they were very small. New Potato size would best describe them, and as they are normally smaller than most other Potato varieties, I could not complain. And anyway, both lots of Potatoes were grown from Tubers that I saved through the Winter, from last year, so they didn’t owe me anything.

The Showers have been encouraging everything else to put on lots of new growth and my Bay Tree Hedges were no exception. They looked very untidy, both with some dead leaves still clinging on after being burned by the Winter frosts, and with odd, erratic shoots, growing, and sticking up here and there, with bunches of bright, new leaves on. A few minutes with some clean and sharp garden shears soon took care of them though and produced an abundance of Leaves just right to pass around the Allotments for those that wanted them for cooking purposes. Several Plot Holders asked me about drying them and I suggested spreading them out on an oven proof tray and putting them in the oven for a few hours while it is still warm after it has been turned out. Alternatively you could just hang small branches of leaves up for a few weeks in a warm and dry room.

Apart from tidying up my Bay Trees on my allotment I have been doing a bit of tidying up at home, in my Garden. I have removed my early flowering Fox Gloves that had gone over and the Calendulas are starting to set seed so have been trimmed, although they should carry on flowering for a while yet. On my Allotment the Angelica has also produced some lovely seed heads that if left will scatter seed far and wide. Early flowering Shrubs at home such as my Phlomis, must have their old flowers cut off soon after flowering as well, because it then gives them time to prepare for flowering the next year. If you trim them too late in the season you will get no flowers at all the following season.
On the subject of early flowering plants, it is often true that you can put in their seeds, as soon as their old flower heads have dried, to germinate, before the Autumn. Some of these seedlings will over-winter outside, but some plants will need a little protection from Winter frosts, either in a Cold Frame, or Cold Greenhouse. Fox Gloves, Calendulas and Angelica are all seeds that are good to sow now. Strictly speaking, Calendulas are tender perennials and Fox Gloves are Biennials, but Angelica is really Monocarpic like Bananas. That is the name given to a plant that sets seed and then dies regardless of how old it is. It can live for several years shooting again after each Winter like an Herbaceous Perennial until it finally flowers and then dies.

My Alstromoerias have been producing a lovely display of flowers from the clumps of 3, or 4 different varieties that I have on my Allotment. I have been cutting plenty of bunches as they make good cut flowers, but they do have a tendency to drop their petals all the time so do need a bit of daily tidying up. In the Garden at Home my Hardy Chrysanthemums are already flowering, but the more tender, common varieties on my Allotment have yet to flower.
The Gladiola that I always plant, by saving them from one year to the nest, are starting to produce flowers as well that are nice for cutting. It is a bit of trouble to dig out the Corms every Autumn, so that they can be stored in a frost free environment over Winter, but well worth it I think. Bulbs are expensive to keep buying and although Seeds are only a couple of pounds a packet, re-using and re-cycling is what Allotments are all about.

 

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