Friday, 1 June 2018

Grow your own in 80 minutes a week - Jobs for June

The 80 Minute Allotment June Jobs Green Fingered Blog
The jobs come thick and fast in late May and early June, whether you're trying to grow your own in an allotment, kitchen garden or containers by the back door. But having lots to do doesn't mean there's more time to do it!

I've only got an average of 80 minutes a week to spend on my plot, so I like to keep things simple and get on with it. If you're growing your own in limited time too, here are some ideas for what you can be doing this week...



The weather is good now and things are growing fast. If you're trying to grow your own in limited time, then it's important to have a clear idea of what you need to do. Here are the things I've been doing this week on The 80 Minute Allotment: 


Grow your own in 80 minutes a week - Jobs for June 

When things get busy it can be tricky juggling the different things going on. That's why I devised a rough planting plan at the start if the year. This sets out what I'm growing in each bed, and where I'm planting them. This is handy to refer to, to check progress in each part of the plot, and helps to make sure I don't forget anything or miss something out. Making a plan is easy, you can see how I did it here:

Allotment planting plan - a step by step guide


Look after strawberries


One of the most exciting crops at this time of year is strawberries. They are flowering and starting to form fruits. Soon it will be time to cover them with a net to make sure we get to eat the fruits and the birds don't.

This weeks job though was to remove all the large tall leaves that have grown on the strawberry plants. This lush foliage shades the fruits and slows their development by using lots of the plants' energy up too.

Cut off large strawberry leaves The 80 Minute Allotment Green Fingered Blog
Snipping off large strawberry leaves
I want that energy going into fruits not leaves so I cut of all the large tall leaves, exposing more of the developing fruits to the sunlight and hopefully diverting more energy into making bigger berries!

Strawberries in the sunshine The 80 Minute Allotment Green Fingered Blog
Strawberries uncovered! 

Sowing Seeds


Last time, I planted out the few carrot and beetroot seedlings that I'd managed to raise indoors earlier in the year. Now it's time to sow direct. I make a shallow drill in a straight line, sow seeds thinly along the drill, cover over and gently water.  

I've sown a row of carrots, a row of beetroot, and a second row of parsnips. Parsnips take a while to germinate so I sowed one row at the first sign of decent weather a few weeks ago. They haven't come up yet, but I'm sure they will eventually.
Parsnip seeds The 80 Minute Allotment Green Fingered Blog
Parsnip seeds

I've also sown some salad onion seeds. These can be sown at various times throughout the year to produce regular harvesting over many months. These came as seed tape, which you just lie along the drill you've made, after watering it first so that the tape sticks to the soil. I've sown some in a container too, just outside the back door. When they're ready I'll be able to just reach out and cut some to add to salads or mashed potato.

Harden off courgettes


I'm going to be growing two courgette plants. I bought them as seedlings and they are spending a couple of weeks in the cold frame before I plant them in the plot. By opening the coldframe lid during the day but closing it at night, they become gently acclimatised to life outside and should grow on well once in the ground. They have already doubled in size!

Courgettes in coldframe The 80 Minute Allotment Green Fingered Blog
Courgette plants hardening off in the coldframe



There's not much else left in the coldframe now, just a few stragglers from the batches of peas and beans I sowed in April. They'll also be planted out on my next trip to the plot.


Plant out seedlings


On my last visit I planted out a few beans and peas that had grown a bit faster and were already hardened off. French beans in particular need warmer weather before going outside. They also need a cane or stick for support. I'll tie them in when they get a bit taller.

French bean seedlings The 80 Minute Allotment Green Fingered Blog
French bean seedlings planted out

I also planted out some leeks. Leek seedlings are very slow growing so putting them in is a bit fiddly as they are so small. They look a bit sorry for themselves once planted too, being so thin and wispy they lean over quite a bit, but they aren't actually affected by the move.

The other thing I planted out was the five or six lettuces that I'd grown indoors. They are only a couple of inches tall and very susceptible to slugs and snails. I've put a few organic slug pellets around the edge of the bed, to catch the slugs when they come out, hopefully before they get to the lettuces. 

I just hope there are some lettuces left when I return. At least I can sow more batches indoors to have a succession of salad over the summer months.  


Earth up potatoes


On every trip to the allotment at the moment I add some compost to the potatoes growing in bags. Covering up the shoots encourages more tubers to develop below the surface. The early variety are growing well and should be flowering soon. When they've flowered is when we can dig them up - looking forward to doing that soon, the kids might even get involved in that one, to them it's like digging for treasure!



Support for peas


Peas need a bit of help to keep upright. To avoid them flopping over and growing horizontally along the floor where they will get eaten by slugs and snails, they need to grow up something. You can use netting, canes or sticks. I'm using teepees made from sticks this year, with twine tied around them.

The peas as they grow need to be tied in to the supports or twisted around the uprights so that they grow vertically.



Weeding and watering


Until a few days ago we were in a really dry spell, with no rain for a few weeks. During periods like that it's important to water crops, at least enough to keep them going. It's particularly important for recently planted seedlings and small plants, as they won't have such extensive root systems yet. 

I find for most of the year my plot rarely needs watering. Because of the good levels of rainfall we have here in the west of the UK, once plants are established they can cope with dry weather really well. But earlier in the year when things are small or haven't been planted out for long, they can wither and die if allowed to dry out.

Most of the time here the weather never stays the same for long. Usually if one week is dry the next will be wet, and vice versa. Extended spells of either are rare. If where you are you get less rainfall or longer settled dry spells, you'll need to keep more of an eye on things to keep them from drying out. 

Any spare moments left are used to remove weeds that will otherwise compete for nutrients and water with my veggies. I'm not too fussy about removing absolutely everything, but if there's time to reduce the amount of competition then I do.
  

That's what I've been up to on The 80 Minute Allotment. I'll be back with more soon so make sure you sign up to get my next update by email. That way you can easily keep track of the things you can do to grow your own in limited time. 

I'd love it if you let me know how your plot is doing using the comments section below. I'm particularly interested if you're growing any edibles in containers - what are you growing and how's it going?

Paul



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