By August we were getting quite a few crops from the allotment. Not enough to feed us, but enough to make it worthwhile. At this point we realised that we weren’t going to get all the beds dug this year and concentrated on cropping and watering. Our sweet peas produced abundant blooms which we had to pick twice a week. Under the sweet peas were poached-egg plant and pot marigold to attract pollinators.
The pumpkins continued their relentless march across the plot, reaching more than 2 meters away from the roots. We planted purple kale, broccoli and two more beds of potatoes (with the intention of eating spuds fresh from the ground at Christmas). We had two groups of sweetcorn, to the left of (and behind) the tree and to the right of the sunflowers. Although they looked impressive, getting to about 2 meters in height, the cobs were poor. From what I read, you need a lot of sunshine to get good sweetcorn with most varieties.
The redcurrant produced a handful of tiny currants, but the rhubarb did very well and we enjoyed rhubarb crumble a few times that summer. The peas and mangetout grew big, but did not produce a lot of pods. Towards the end of their cropping period I began to find tiny grubs in the pods that had eaten one or two peas. The broad beans did fine earlier in the year, but were plagued by blackfly so much that they wilted and the pods were distorted. Organic sprays or soap sprays didn’t really do much to stop their spread.
In September we came to the conclusion that it was vastly inefficient and costly to buy bagged manure and sand for each bed, so we ordered 2 tons of well-rotted manure from a local farmer – for £25! It took two of us 4 hours of almost constant spade/wheel-barrow action to get it from where it was dumped to where we needed it on the plot. I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t at all foul smelling.
Around this time of year we had a few incidents of minor vandalism on the site, so we took the three pumpkins to our garden to ripen as I thought they would be a prime target.
Our end-of-summer harvest included lettuce, spring onions, mixed chard and perpetual spinach. The Chard looked amazing – big glossy leaves, with bright red, yellow or orange steps and veins. Unfortunately it tasted incredibly bitter. I don’t think I will bother growing it again. The biggest failures were two Jerusalem artichokes i planted in June that never even sprouted. Next in line were the parsnips, only two of which sprouted, but never really grew any bigger. In retrospect we planted both of these far too early. The apple tree gave a great harvest in September with sweet red apples.
By October, we were getting the first frosts and many plants were coming to the end of their lives. in the pic below you can see the kale and broccoli doing well under the netting. Several other plots had brassicas un-netted and the local pigeons destroyed them. The bed at the bottom had the beetroot (boltardy) which I pickled and got 6 jars out of it. Very easy to grow and tasty. Shouldn’t really eat when wearing a white shirt though. The carrots (Purple Haze), on the next bed were surrounded by leeks and onion. The carrots were quite successful, but not very long. They don’t like clay soil or recently added manure, so I was limited either way. They were deep purple on the outside and bright orange on the outside. In the centre of the picture is a french sorrel plant that I bought at the National Herb Centre. The young leaves have an astoundingly lemony taste.
There was one sight left to see on the plot that year. Just before the frosts really took hold, the Cosmos i had planted under the tree finally came good.