Summer allotment cultivation

If you can actually see your allotment at present, you clearly don’t have the driving rain that we have. I am not complaining though! Well, maybe I am, a little bit.

The thing about British weather is that it seems to be tending to extremes these days – it’s always been changeable, of course, but now it’s not changing within what seems to me to be normal parameters but veering between arctic and tropic or arid and monsoon – and today is monsoon!

It’s still pretty warm out there, but the rain is relentless and filling the water butts and buckets, pots and trays. I’m sure that it’s washing all my seeds into the lowest point of the bed so that when they germinate they will all come up in a clump and have to be thinned and, with any luck, transplanted, although with the current level of rainfall they might just float away altogether! I did manage to get to the plot yesterday to harvest courgettes and spinach to make a summer pie, plus rocket, mountain spinach and chillies for a salad and sweet peas and white lavender just to fill a vase. It's bizarre to see that the spinach began to wilt within two minutes of being picked because of the heat, while today it's been flattened to the ground by the torrents of rain!

It’s also a bit annoying because I wanted to pinch out the beans today. Runners and borlotti beans in particular benefit from having their tops pinched out when they reach the top of their canes, so that they produce more beans further down the plant. I can still ‘stop’ the tomato plants though, by cutting off the growing tip on the main stem. This causes the plant’s energy to remain on filling the fruit that have already been set, rather than on producing more leaves, more stems and more flowers, which creates smaller fruit.

The brassica cage is looking great – and the rain will deter some of the whitefly that cluster around brassicas. It will bring out the slugs and snails, of course, but the purple sprouting broccoli, perpetual broccoli and kale are now big enough to fight off that kind of depredation and the cage stops the plants having to contend with caterpillar attacks.

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Thursday, August 4, 2011

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