Saturday, 14 July 2018

The 80 Minute Allotment in July


The ground on the The 80 Minute Allotment is literally cracking up. That means most of my time on the plot right now is spent either watering, or picking fresh veg...



Jobs for July on The 80 Minute Allotment


We are in the middle (well in fact I hope we are towards the end) of a very untypical extreme dry spell here in South Wales. Apart from a couple of very light showers lasting only a few minutes, we've had no rain for about six weeks.

There is no water supply at The 80 Minute Allotment, other than a pond and a few tubs that collect rain water. 

Watering is done by dunking a watering can into them and using it to water the plot. This can eat up a lot of the average 80 minutes a week I have spare to grow my own.

For this reason I do not usually do much watering apart from anything that has been newly planted. 

Once plants are established they have to fend for themselves, and most years they can, thanks to our climate which usually provides enough regular rainfall. In most years the hot sunny spells last no more than a couple of weeks at a time before being interrupted by a rainy day or two.

The current extended dry spell has meant extra visits to the plot to do some extra watering, just to keep the smaller seedlings alive long enough to get established.

Carrot seedlings


The lack of moisture has nonetheless prevented any of my direct sown parsnips and carrots from germinating, and caused the earlier ones I planted as seedlings to shrivel up and die. 

I resorted to buying more carrot seedlings from the garden centre and have been watering these to make sure they survive long enough to get established. I've also covered them with net to prevent pigeons nibbling the shoots. 

As I've mentioned before their bed is surrounded with three foot high mesh to deter carrot fly.


Carrot seedlings 80 Minute Allotment Green Fingered Blog
The last chance for carrots this year!

I planted two rows of three metres each and so far most of them have survived so it looks like we may get a harvest of carrots later in the year after all.


Courgettes 


The courgettes were only planted in June so they are also young plants, and thirsty ones too, so these have been the other main focus of my additional watering visits. Thankfully they seem to be developing well and are starting to produce their first flower buds.

Courgette plant 80 Minute Allotment Green Fingered Blog
A thirsty young courgette plant


Keep watering potatoes


I have not been watering enough for a really good potato harvest. The potatoes growing in bags at the bottom of the plot have grown well but have not flowered yet, but the foliage is a bit dry and starting to fade. 

I'll give these some more water but will be digging up the early variety (in the bag on the right) soon. Check my next update from The 80 Minute Allotment to see the results.

Potatoes growing in a bag 80 Minute Allotment Green Fingered Blog
Potatoes in a bag


Remove flowers from onions


The onions have not been watered at all, but strangely as any gardener knows, the weeds need a lot less water than the vegetables. So while I've made hurried extra visits to the plot to keep the carrots and courgettes alive, the onions have been swamped by weeds. The whole allium bed is so overgrown that I haven't had time to sort it out. 

The one thing I have done to them is pick off any flower heads that start to form. 

I want the plants putting maximum energy into growing nice swollen stems, not into producing flowers or seeds. I just snap them off and add them to the compost heap.

Onion flower 80 Minute Allotment Green Fingered Blog
Remove flowers from onions


Last time I lifted all my garlic, and it will soon be tome to do the same with the shallots and other onions. I just wait for the leaves to die back, as I described here:

Harvesting Garlic on The 80 Minute Allotment


Harvest beans


Despite the lack of water there are things ready to pick, cook and eat. I've been picking the last of the peas and the first of the french beans but the bumper crop of the moment is broad beans (fava beans if you're in the USA).

They are still growing well, which shows how well they can draw water from deep in the soil once they established, because they have had hardly any watering. There will be plenty more to come, but here's what I picked on my most recent visit, all from just two rows of four metres each:

Fresh picked broad beans 80 Minute Allotment Green Fingered Blog
Fresh picked broad beans
The rain must surely return soon, which will make everything grow even more. There will be plenty more going on, so make sure you come back to The 80 Minute Allotment soon to see how to grow your own in less than two hours a week.


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