Wonderful allotment rain!

Okay it’s brought out a ghastly crop of annual weed seeds (things that look like giant pea seedlings in particular, we’ve been hoeing them in for three days and they still pop up like cartoon plants) and it’s knocked over a couple of the borlotti beans that need to be reattached to their bean poles, but otherwise, it’s all good.

The zigzag is less zig and zag than a solid planting of summer seedlings: the oriental spicy salad is insane – give it a short back and sides and turn your back and it’s outgrown its space and sprawling all over its neighbours again. We are not complaining: it’s very tasty! By comparison the white salad onions look spindly, but they will bulk up as the days pass. The beetroot are thriving: 103 seems to be a good plot for beetroot to our great pleasure, as is the spinach patch, and the radishes are being properly radishy. Of course some of the coriander has bolted, as it tends to do in hot weather, but as we only use a few of the leaves and let the rest set seed to dry for cooking, that’s exactly how I like it, and I think the delicacy of coriander flowers is, in itself, one of the prettiest features of an allotment herb bed.

An update on the edible landscaping – this is the border area I last posted a photograph of in May, which I'm reposting here to show how the border area has developed. It’s really filled in and become more interesting, I think. Combining and contrasting colour, form and family is something of a juggling act with edible landscaping: it’s not enough to make it look pretty, we have to try not to plant things next to each other that compete for nutrients or space, and actively companion plant those things that thrive as neighbours and enjoy each other’s company. Beans, for example, are not too keen on the tagetes family, while parsley and strawberries seem to get on brilliantly.

We have a mixture of perennials, particularly flowers like rescued patio roses, lavender and agastache, in with our crops: this encourages pollination as well as looking beautiful. Aesthetic concerns are also important. Low-growing annuals like lobelia or radishes happily grow under and between blocks of sweetcorn, keeping down the weeds and look prettier than the squashes that fulfil that role in a three sisters planting.

Speaking of three sisters, in each of our pumpkin beds we’ve corner planted either a tall skinny variety (like a leek) or a fast catch-crop (like radishes) so that those little angles of unused space get used before the pumpkin sprawls into them.

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Monday, July 18, 2011

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