Rain, rain, glorious rain | The Voice of the Allotment

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Gardener Barry Cuff shares his June allotment diary – and admits to a little midnight raindance when the good stuff finally arrived

What a wonderful surprise to wake up in the early hours of Tuesday 20th June and hear the rain. I was so pleased that I put on some clothes and went and stood in the garden to enjoy it for a few minutes!
It was a lovely hard rain, exactly what was needed to revive the plants and seedlings – after about 40 days of little-to-no-rainfall it was appreciated all round! We had about 1.2 inches, and an amazing amount of growth was made after the rain.
On the allotment, we have a 12 to 14-foot-deep well which supplies seven raised 1,500 litre tanks and two 1,000 litre tanks – all of which are connected to cattle troughs fitted with ballcocks. During June’s dry spell, water was pumped at least five days a week to meet the demand of plot-holders.

June diary
2nd – Planted out 22 Swift sweetcorn to bring the total to 52 plants. Water.
3rd – Side shoot and feed greenhouse tomatoes. Cut lettuce.
4th – Dug one plant of Jazzy potato (planted earlier than rest of crop). Got 17 good-size spuds plus a few small tubers – a very tasty ‘new potato’. Planted out two Defender, one Black Beauty and one Astia courgettes. Water.
5th – Water.
6th – Planted out 10 Cornichon de Paris gherkins, one Sweet Dumpling squash, four Butterfly Winter squash, four Crown Prince squash. Cut lettuce. Sowed Witloof chicory, coriander, Moulin Rouge beetroot and Early Nantes carrot. Water.
7th – Water.
8th – Water.
10th – Water.
11th – Cut lettuce, water.
13th – Dug three Maris Bard early potatoes. Water.
14th – Planted out from plugs a block of Little Gem lettuce. Feed tomatoes and peppers. Water.
15th – Water.
16th – Picked first two Defender courgettes and also the first broad beans (Masterpiece Green Longpod and Witkiem Manita). Pulled more spring onions and cut lettuce.
17th – Water.
18th – Hand weeding and hoeing. Water.
19th – Sowed French Breakfast radish. Water.
20th – RAIN IN NIGHT! Sowed Purple Magnolia and Carouby de Maussane mangetout peas. Sowed in plug trays Medallion cauliflower, Vertus savoy cabbage and Natalino Romanesco.
21st – Planted out a block of celery, consisting of 11 Tango and 28 Green Utah plants.
23rd – Planted out 20 Monarch celeriac. Dug Jazzy and Maris Bard potatoes. Pulled spring onions. Picked broad beans. Harvested garlic.
24th – Hand weeding and hoeing, cut lettuce.
25th – Planted out cauliflowers; Snow Prince, Cheesy and Cendis. Thinned parsnips and chicory. Hand weeding.
26th – Planted out Ironman calabrese. Sowed White Lisbon spring onion. Picked broad beans, pulled spring onions and cut courgettes.
28th – Picked first peas and more broad beans. Dug two plants of Maris Bard.
30th – Picked first tomato from greenhouse (Santonio)! Cut courgettes, pulled spring onions.
Dug remainder of Jazzy potatoes. Planted out Cardinal and an early purple sprouting broccoli. Planted out a block of lettuce.

Fruit
We picked strawberries for two weeks but they finished quickly due to the drought, despite watering them well. We started picking blackcurrants around 22nd.

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