It’s nearly the end of July 2013 and we’ve had a very good summer so far in London. It’s been hot and sunny for a good number of weeks and this means that things are growing in the allotment at the rate of knots! I’ve been taking photos over the last couple of weeks and i’ve been meaning to put them together in a post so here it is. It’s all a bit of mish mash but basically here’s a tour of the allotment this year:
An overview shot (compare this to early shots when making the new beds). From left to right: Brassica bed, followed by roots with the raspberries at the back, then the cold frame (with lid up) the tops of the beans just behind the tomatoes and then the salad bed with lettuce, spring onions, rocket, land cress and lots of french marigolds.
I’ve not really bothered with the paths which are only compacted soil, only to pull up the weeds from the edges when they look threatening. Not sure what I could do with them that’s easy and attractive?
The salad bed looking fine! I’ve really enjoyed the lettuce from here this year (didn’t get any lettuce last year) A couple of things to learn are that I packed it all in too closely which gave slugs and snails more hiding places than I would like to have, and they competed too much with each other. I need to be better at thinning things out! I’ve also made the classic mistake of not sowing successively so i’m about to run out salad for a few weeks, doh.
This is the view of my “Tomato bed”. Going from left to right it’s got: tomatillos, sunflowers, a squash (just in the front there, behind the bolting lettuce) 5 or 6 varieties of tomato (I can’t remember the final number), french marigolds, coriander and basil in-between the toms and sweet peas on the right.
It’s turned out pretty much exactly how I imagined so I’d call this a success! However, if doing agin next year I’d not have so many tomato plants as I fear that it will take a while for them to ripen as it’s hard for the sun to penetrate through the thick foliage!
A close up of one of the tomato plants with the coriander visible at the foot of it. None have turned red (or yellow) yet but i’m waiting excitedly for the first fresh tomato salad of the year! I’ve had to do a lot of nipping out the side shoots of these plants and i’m always making sure they are twisted around their string to the maximum height.
I need to remember to do a taste comparison of all the different varieties so that I can know which ones to plant again next year.
Sweet Peas are pretty much my favourite flower. I didn’t manage to grow any last year so i’m delighted to have plenty in the allotment right now, and some in my kitchen! They smell fantastic and have a gorgeous blue / purple colour.
Our 2 courgette plants just in front of the broad beans. The beans are over now but gave us a decent crop. I did have to spend more time than I like to admit trying to rid them of the dreaded black fly but this did give us more beans so was probably worth it. Next year I need more any black fly systems in place.
The beginnings of this year’s courgettes. We’ve only planted a yellow variety this year. It’s a bit muddy from the thunderstorm that gave the garden a good soaking the night before.
A view of the central two beds from the back of the allotment. This shot gives a clear view of how the rhubarb has completely gone to seed (I’m considering digging it up as I don’t really have space and it doesn’t seem to be that happy anyways). The climbing beans can be clearly seen clearing the top of their 6ft poles which is fun and the past it peas just in there with their woodland collected pea sticks.
Beans in the sky! These plants are looks good apart from the odd spot of black fly. I’ve only had a handful of beans to date (and I over cooked them which is annoying) but i’m looking forward to a bumper harvest for tomorrow’s BBQ.
I’ve got some more beans on the go. These are a dwarf variety that I picked up at Hampton Court Flower show with dad. It’s amazing the difference a dry summer has made, last year I didn’t get any beans past seedling stage because there were just too many slugs! But this year has been much better, which I am very thankful for!
The garlic was planted at the end of last year. The stems slowly turned yellow and wilted over which the books say means they are cooked. As you can see, this bed suffers a bit from bind weed, but i’ve managed to keep it at bay enough to get the garlic to grow.
My first garlic. I planted some bulbs called ‘Elephant Garlic’ back in november, and although i’m happy they’ve done something, I am a little disappointed they aren’t as massive as their name suggests!
Bug house no. 1 featuring bamboo pole and leaves for extra privacy!
Bug house no.2 has just the bamboo poles. These are my rather late attempt to attract more lady birds into the allotment to help sort out my black fly issues. At least they are ready for next year if nothing else.
This beetroot was a bit of a surprise as I only went in to pull up what as a bolted plant, assuming that it hadn’t managed to put on growth before the heat caused it to run to seed but I was wrong! I ate this particular beet grated raw with some grated carrots (not my own) some sesame and poppy seeds with a squeeze of lemon, yum.
This fella, which I wouldn’t normally leave to get this big, is waiting to be pulled tomorrow for a BBQ at my parents place. Not sure how we’re going to cook it yet. I think this one might be the pink and white stripy variety which i think tastes better raw.
There’s a big bed of beetroot with a few different varieties in there. We like beetroot so it makes sense to grow it!
The leeks ready for planting out. It’s interesting to see the subtle colour difference between the two varieties in that tray at the front. I’ve got 3 varieties in total and lots of plants. I main worry with the leeks is that the fox comes and tramples all over them (which i think he did las year) so I need to make sure my anti fox protectors are in place again.
The leeks are now in place to start fattening up for winter. We really like leeks in this house so i’ve planted lots in the hope that I can keep us in leeks if nothing else!
I planted some carrots, I think they are called ‘Nantes’. I wouldn’t normally have given space over to this root veg but I got some seeds for free from one of the gardening magazines I read so I thought one row wouldn’t harm. I not sure they are that happy as not much has happened yet.
I’ve got 4 brussel sprout plants, well only 3 now as the other day I visited to find some sort of animal (i’m still not quite sure what it was) had been having a good time in the brassica bed and had nibbled or knocked over the top of one of the sprouts. I’ve planted these mainly for christmas but also I do know a good recipe for a raw sprout and apple salad which is pretty good (it’s Hugh F-W book about veg).
The sign for my savoy cabbage is being hidden here by some massive leaves! So far they are looking good but I am nervous that they will be struck down by some pest or other. Fingers crossed as I do love savoy cabbage lightly steamed with lots of butter.
The brassica bed is looking good but too full. I think this is a lesson in why thinning out the plants at seedling stage is important, because I’m going to struggle to get access in order to do some necessary thinning. I had hoped to pull up the plants as a whole and give them to friends / family but I fear that just cutting them for eating will be the easiest way to thin them out. There’s a mixture of cabbages, sprouting broccoli and kales in here.
Planting chard has not failed me yet. It did very well last year and it’s doing equally well this one. I have reduced the size of it’s patch this year as we didn’t manage to eat everything last time, at a guess, I think there are about 10 plants here of both swiss (white stemmed) and rainbow (yellow and pink) variety.
This is currently the tallest plant in my brassica bed, the trouble is that I don’t know what it is! The leaves look a bit like tree spinach, but I don’t remember planting that! If I can’t find out it’s identity then It will have to come out.
We have a few alpine strawberry plants and few normal ones (I think one of them in Cambridge?) We don’t have enough plants to give us a proper bowlful of berries but we get the odd one or two tasty treat when we visit.
The herb bed at the front of our property has come alive and all the flowering herbs are providing lots of food for the insects that are all over it! The mint has been the most used herb and the lavender looks good in our (grey walled) bathroom.
This is a harvest picked in early July in preparation for a dinner for 5 people. We’ve got: radishes, bread beans (5 strawberries and 10 red currents under the beans!), rocket, swish chard, rainbow chard, mint, and a basket full of lettuce.
The radishes were eaten whole as a starter with butter & salt. The broad beans and mint went in with some feta for a side salad. There was a big green salad with all the leaves, and the chard was lightly steamed to go with the lamb (toped with a couple of red currents for affect!) and minted new potatoes (I did not grow the lamb or new potatoes).
Not bad i’d say.