The Allotment in July

Allotment

A very hot start to sunny July means that things are growing with vigour and vibrancy and the garden is changing almost every day. Harvesting of our beautiful courgettes has started in earnest, which means picking at least every other day to avoid growing accidental marrows! The Fiorentina plants produce the most beautiful and plentiful flowers which, if picked on the day, they open and will keep for a couple of days in the fridge. These can be sautéed and used as a fabulous simple pasta sauce with garlic and olive oil and finished with Parmesan and fresh summer herbs. The courgettes are crisp and full of flavour when picked small, ideal for eating raw, or chargrilling on the BBQ for maximum taste.

The little gherkin plants have gone crazy this week, and again, I have been picking every other day (about 12 each time!) and keeping them chilled until I have enough to make sour dill pickles using an old recipe I recently found and my new crockpot. We are still harvesting chard, this year our red rhubarb chard is most successful. The tomatoes have been enjoying the sunshine, along with the chillies and tomatillos, all of which are showing green fruits and plenty of flowers already, but it has been a battle to keep things watered during this long hot period. We harvest rainwater from the shed and greenhouse roofs and use underwater pipes and pots stuck into the soil to ensure that evaporation is limited, but have used it all up, so are crossing our fingers for a good rainfall soon – the garden is desperate! The carrot are hating the dry weather, especially as we grow them in a very large tub to avoid carrot fly (they can only fly up to 16 inches off the ground) and am finding that I cannot water them enough to keep them perky. This is partly due to the soil which is heavily cut with sand so drainage is fantastic, but not great in such a long dry spell.

The gooseberries have been and gone, and the red ones were so fantastically sweet and flavoursome that we picked and ate them straight off the bush! The redcurrants have been made into jelly and a few for the freezer and the blackcurrants are getting fat and ready to be picked in the next few days. Raspberries are starting to form fruit and have been buzzing, full of lovely bees for a couple of weeks now. The strawberries have been our biggest heartbreak of the year. We were trialling a new system of growing the plants through red plastic sheeting, an idea promoted by James Wong. The strawberries will sense the red colour beneath them and think it is competition, so will grow bigger, redder and sweeter to ensure they are chosen to be eaten, hence spreading their seeds. Everything was looking wonderful until a deer broke into the allotment and ate the entire plants, leaves, stems, fruits and all! Luckily a huge part of gardening is the love of being outside and of nature and so we forgive this little deer, even though he didn’t even leave us one berry to try. Over winter this year we will work on putting up some fencing.

July Jobs

Jobs for July include constant weeding and watering (in the evening is best and much better to give a good soak every few days rather than little bits each day) harvesting to encourage more fruit production and remembering to keep sowing those radishes and lettuce so you can have a continuous crop through the summer. Mostly it is one of the most beautiful and vibrant months in the garden so make sure you give yourself time to sit out with a cup of something delicious and take it all in with your feet up for a minute or two. Happy gardening!

Ally Molyneaux – Head Teacher

To Do List:

  • Constant weeding and water – In the evening is the best time to water and much better to give them a good soak every few days rather than little bits each day
  • Harvesting – to encourage more fruit production
  • Sowing the radishes and lettuce – to have continuous crop throughout summer. seed heads on
  • Enjoy the beautiful garden in the sunshine – July is one of the most beautiful months, put your feet up, relax and take it all in.