Bountiful rain-fuelled harvest | The Voice of the Allotment


The warm, wet month has meant a burst of growth on the allotment says Barry Cuff – sadly, for the weeds as well as the courgettes

With more than four and a half inches of rain recorded for the month and temperatures around normal for July, growth of both crops and weeds has been phenomenal. Even the strong winds on two occasions did no damage.
We were harvesting young carrots (Early Nantes) by the second week. These had made a slow start from successional sowings, with the earlier sowings catching up with the later. It’s been the same story with the two varieties of beetroot (Moulin Rouge and Crimson King).
Runner beans and French beans had to be picked every third day to ensure the plants kept producing. This year our runner beans were sown with home-saved seed and we have both white and red coloured flowers, which means they had cross-pollinated the previous year. Last year’s variety was Moonlight (white) and an allotment neighbour had Polestar (red). There was no discernible difference in either yield or taste!
Lettuce, spring onions and radishes have all made excellent growth and we were able to gather daily for salads.
Celery and celeriac also put on good growth, ready for the autumn – both of these were mulched with our own compost.

Our sweetcorn (Swift) started flowering mid-month with good pollen production.
The three varieties of courgettes – Black Beauty, Defender and Astia – produced fruits every other day, while the weather has meant our winter squashes have made more growth than I can remember in previous years!
The peas finished early due to the previous month’s dry weather, whereas our mangetout and snap performed better. We grow Carrouby De Maussane and Purple Magnolia – both are excellent for stir frys and salads.
During the drier periods we harvested Charlotte, Rooster, Jazzy and British Queen potatoes – all except Rooster did well. Our remaining varieties will be lifted in August so we’ll keep an eye on the plants for blight.
Both our potatoes and onion patches became very weedy, especially with fat hen, gallant soldiers (a plant that can produce 15,000 seeds …) and many-seeded goosefoot – all are difficult to remove without pulling up the crop.
We also have a few unusual weeds on the plot. Weasel’s snout is now a quite scarce cornfield weed. Thorn apple has large white five-lobed trumpet-shaped flowers and green oval spiky fruits. The other we have is moth mullein, a biennial plant which we let bloom as it has very attractive flowers loved by bees.
All our fruit bushes have loved the rain and produced large currants, gooseberries and raspberries – most of these are swiftly made into jam and wine!

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