July heat on the allotment

We are struggling to keep the allotment watered. One of our mountain spinach has succumbed to a combination of drought and blackfly, which is frustrating.

On the other hand, the gourmet peppers in the greenhouse at home are doing magnificently. I wasn’t overly hopeful of these (the packet says ‘orange blocky fruits’ which makes them sound like the capsicum equivalent of a house-brick!) but they are flourishing alongside the corno ie toro variety. Next year we will grow our peppers at plot 103, although I’ll need to remember to hand pollinate them the way I do at home. I’m always surprised that people don’t know that they can often double their pepper harvest by using a small dampened paintbrush to move the pollen from flower to flower – peppers (including chilli plants) are not necessarily good self-pollinators.

And we have had some great beetroot - both chioggia and cylindra doing well, along with an amazing harvest of onions. This is the bag of unknown sets – 50 for £1.99, that I picked up in a cheap shop when I was buying a bottle of water to drink on the bus. I only grabbed them because (a) they were cheap and (b) we needed to fill the ground at plot 103 with anything we could, just to stop the weeds taking over and (c) I have a sentimental streak that sometimes short-circuits my sensible horticultural side. Anyway, they done good!

We lost about four to rot, mainly because the soil wasn’t properly levelled and they ended up being planted too deeply, and two had begun to sprout before we got them out of the ground. The others range from acceptable to huge in size, are clean, heavy, juicy and sweet and are now curing in the greenhouse before OH sets about garlanding them.

They won’t keep for long, of course, being summer onions and not having great keeping qualities, but I shall use some to make relish and we love baked onions on the barbecue, so they won’t last long. The soil on 103 is better than we ever dared to hope, and next year we’ll get a more level area on which to grow onions and a named variety that will have better storage qualities.

Meantime OH has been rediscovering his inner Jack Hargreaves. OH’s dad used to plait onions so we found a video of Jack on the internet and OH had a trial run with our shallot harvest. This is them, hanging from my hammock (yes, I have a hammock on the allotment - so bite me!) I think he did brilliantly for a first attempt with unpromising material (the shallots were a little too dry) and I look forward to having a proper onion garland hanging up in the kitchen in the next week or so.

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Monday, July 11, 2011


Blogger Joanna said...

Sympathies over lack of water. We are finally getting regular water thank goodness and our carrots are finally poking through. I didn't plant enough last year for the winter months and so sowed lots of seed and most are only just coming through now due to the lack of water.

Thanks for the tip on the peppers, I guess that is why they always seem to take an age to get going producing fruits as they gain a critical mass. Will go and do some pollinating today

July 11, 2011 at 11:18 PM  

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