Sunday, 12 August 2018

Watering and Harvesting: August on The 80 Minute Allotment

Watering and Harvesting: August on The 80 Minute Allotment
80 minutes a week isn't much time to grow your own fruit and vegetables but it's usually about all I get. Two months of unusually hot and dry weather has started to take it's toll and most of my allotment time recently has been spent watering, but I've been picking plenty of things to take home and eat too.  


I haven't watered nearly enough during the hot spell, partly because I didn't have time and partly because I wasn't really expecting it to go on as long as it did.

But eventually I started to worry that things would simply perish or fail to produce a crop. 

For the last few weeks I prioritised watering over anything else. 

There was no point trying to sow anything, seedlings simply wouldn't survive. The weeds carried on growing, but they will have to wait. In the time I had, I just wanted to keep the edibles going.

And they have. As we head through August there have been plenty of things ready to pick and eat at The 80 Minute Allotment:

Vegetables to harvest in August

I've had more broad beans, but they are getting towards the end of their productive phase. Other crops are now coming to the fore: 

Pulling Up Beetroot 

I'm growing beetroot at the allotment, and also in containers outside the back door. 

Once they get to anything more than golf ball size they are worth pulling up. 

The roots swell and poke up above ground level so you can see their progress easily. Pulling up the larger ones creates a bit more space for the smaller ones to develop further - you're effectively thinning them when you harvest some of them. These smaller ones can stay in the ground for a few more weeks as I help myself to a few at a time. 

Beetroot growing in containers Watering and Harvesting: August on The 80 Minute Allotment
Beetroot and carrots in containers


GREEN FINGERS TIP: The various sticks and canes at odd angles in the above picture are there to discourage local cats, who have a tendency to disturb the compost looking for somewhere to use as a toilet. They dug up all the garlic in one container, but since inserting canes and sticks I've had no more trouble.



Dig Up Early Potatoes


I'm growing potatoes in bags at the bottom of the allotment plot. One is full of early variety Sharpes Express. These were looking a bit sorry for themselves having not had enough water, so my daughter dug them up to see how they'd done. 



They actually did ok, with a couple of handfuls of edible spuds from each of the three seed potatoes I planted. And they tasted great, so soft and full of flavour! 

New potatoes Watering and Harvesting: August on The 80 Minute Allotment
Not a bad return from the first of the plants we dug up.

The other bag containing my main crop potatoes - International Kidney variety - were also looking poorly but after watering them they've perked up.

Hopefully they will grow over the next few weeks to produce bigger tubers before we dig them up. 


Their chances have improved further now that the rain has arrived in the last few days, but they have been swamped by weeds in the surrounding area which I just haven't had a chance to get rid of. This is only superficial though, as the potatoes are in a bag they shouldn't be affected by the weeds around them.

Main crop potatoes in a bag Watering and Harvesting: August on The 80 Minute Allotment
Main crop potatoes have grown well, as have the weeds around them! 


Lift and dry shallots



The leaves on my shallots had faded and fallen over. I had to rummage through the weeds I hadn't weeded to pull them up. It's a good job I didn't leave it any longer or I might have had trouble finding them. 

I lifted them and left them to dry in the sun on these wooden trays. In wet weather they can be taken inside. After a couple of days drying they can be kept in a cool dry place out of direct sun for months. I've already used a few in a risotto!  

Shallots Watering and Harvesting: August on The 80 Minute Allotment
Shallots drying in the sun
The key things about lifting shallots are the same for harvesting garlic. I'll be doing the same for the rest of my onions soon, once their foliage starts to fade and fall over in the same way. For now they can carry on growing that little bit bigger.


Pick the freshest tomatoes you can eat


Any tomatoes I grow outside seem to get blight, so they are in pots indoors on windowsills. It's now time to pick them as and when they ripen. I've got Gardener's Delight and The Amateur varieties.


Tomatoes Watering and Harvesting: August on The 80 Minute Allotment
Lovely ripe tomatoes

It's important to keep watering them regularly as doing it sporadically can cause either blossom end rot or splitting. 

Tomatoes with a slight split in can be picked and eaten but those with rot will have to be thrown away or composted.

I've watered mine daily and still had the odd one split. They've been drying out completely while I've been at work due to the high temperatures we've had - much higher than normal for the time of year. But none have rotted so we've been enjoying eating them. 

Tasting them straight off the vine is so much better than from a punnet in the fridge of tomatoes that may have travelled hundreds of miles and taken days to reach your plate.


Watering Courgettes


My courgettes aren't ready yet, but they are thirsty plants and need plenty of watering if there's no rain. I watered them enough after planting them as seedlings to make sure they survived the incredibly hot dry spell we've had, but only just! Other people's plots have huge leafy courgette plants, ten times the size of my puny little ones.

They are forming courgettes though!
  
Courgettes Watering and Harvesting: August on The 80 Minute Allotment
A tiny courgette forming. Plenty of water and it
should get to full size, along with several more.

There are several courgettes forming behind the flowers so I will carry on watering, and feeding with diluted liquid seaweed, to maximise the crop. This weekend has brought the significant rain the garden and allotment badly needs after such an unusually long dry spell, so they should carry on developing nicely. 

I should be harvesting courgettes soon!

Let me know in the comments what you've already harvested or what you're most looking forward to harvesting in the next few weeks.

Happy growing!
Paul   



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2 comments:

  1. Hi,
    We don't seem to have so many courgettes this year - I wonder if it's just been too dry? The marrows and courgettes we have had have been good though, so it's quality rather than quantity this year!

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  2. Courgettes are notorious for producing plenty on each plant so I hope you're right - maybe even an average year in terms of quantity will be more than enough!

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