High summer allotment harvests

I know that the end of June isn’t really high summer, at least not in climate terms and at least not usually, in the UK, but this year seems different. The garlic has been suggesting it’s ready for several weeks and the shallots are definitely ready (in fact most of them are already curing in the shed at home, lightly covered with a net curtain to stop them getting too hot) while almost all the oriental salads and leaf greens are bolting within a day or so of germinating!

So we’re fighting something of a rearguard action at present – harvesting at a time when we’d usually expect to be putting most of our efforts into weeding around newly sown crops. Lots of seeds just aren’t making it this year: maybe it’s too hot for them to germinate without the seedling getting scorched by the next day’s sun, so we’re at a bit of a loss to find the rhythm of allotment life right now. The container-grown carrots are fantastic, and as they use up the soil that's already been used to grow our early potatoes in containers, we get double the harvest from our intensive labour.

I had a sowing of scorzonera that didn’t germinate at all, so I’ve grubbed up the row and given that space over to beetroot. I’m resowing scorzonera this week, but it won’t be ready to harvest until autumn next year, which is a bit annoying. The greenhouse is so hot I keep expecting to find the tomatoes have pre-cooked themselves! I’m watering the floor daily, as well as the plants, but it’s impossible to keep a greenhouse on plot at a reasonable temperature in all this heat.

The broad beans are over, so we’ve taken out the row which finished earliest and planted some mini-cauliflowers under fleece. We harvest them when they are fist-sized (OH’s fists are the measure, being that much bigger than mine!) and they are a bit of a luxury as they require a high level of input (raising in pots, transplanting, fleece, slug pellets, regular watering) but they make a delicious Thai curry or cauliflower cheese flan!

As we take out beans and peas, a row at a time, we try to put something else in their place, but in the first year on a new plot and with such unusual weather, we've really been caught out this year by not having crops ready to take the place of those that are gone.

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Thursday, June 30, 2011


Blogger Joanna said...

Every sympathy indeed, I am much in the same boat, only for me we have already had our hot spell which really threw everything, the cooler weather we have had the last couple of weeks means my peas are now flourishing. I hope our couple of days of heat are not going to last too long though so I can actually get a good crop of peas after all.

June 30, 2011 at 3:44 AM  
Blogger Pegg said...

In my first few months of having an allotment, I really appreciate hearing what you're planting for winter. I know about the usual summer veg but planting so that we can carry on harvesting after the summer is all new to me. The added bonus is because you're in Kent and I'm 'up north' I seem to have a few weeks notice from you blogging for me to get my act together. Our broad beans and peas have started to flower now - can't wait for the actual veg!

July 2, 2011 at 1:17 AM  
Blogger The Allotment Blogger said...

Joanna - it's bizarre how swiftly crops change their behaviour according to weather, isn't it?

Pegg - I'm in Sussex, actually, but Kent weather is ours too. Winter crop growing is the real test of allotment prowess - bare winter allotments are a sign of poor planning. There are quite a few crops you can be sowing to take you through the winter, such as winter radish (mooli), cabbages (red and some green) and some swede and turnip varieties. Enjoy your beans!

July 5, 2011 at 3:49 AM  
Blogger Pegg said...

Oops! Sorry, I don't know where I got it from that I thought you were in Kent. The south coast is a very beautiful place though, however far you are along it...
Thanks for the heads up on the winter veg. I've got some savoys in for harvesting in Sept/Oct so I will see about getting some winter ones in too. I've put purple sprouting broccoli in this morning which I can apparently eat in February - looking forward to that one.

July 5, 2011 at 6:34 AM  
Blogger The Allotment Blogger said...

Pegg - you might want to protect your purple sprouting from cabbage white butterflies which lay their eggs on the leaves. They can strip plants pretty quickly and although they often recover, it's better not to let them have their evil way.

You can cover them with a cage or some fleece or even an old net curtain.

July 11, 2011 at 3:43 AM  

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