Losing the Plot!

The end of May is always an exciting time for Allotment holders.  We have ‘reclaimed’ our plot from winter neglect, hopefully (cross your fingers) got on top of the weeds, filled our plot with lots of young plants, and with any luck will be starting to harvest!

This year we have decided to try growing a Pumpkin Tunnel! Thanks to Modern Pioneer & mybeautifulthings.com for the photo below of the finished product – as you can see ours has some way to go, but we have grown a lovely variety of squash from seed and it will be interesting to see what the finished result looks like! We promise to share photos later this year! Oh, and watch out for a special October East Dulwich Supper Club when our menu will include some amazing pumpkin dishes!

Moving on around out plot, we have just put in our sweetcorn, again grown from seed – it is hard to believe these delicate little plants measuring no more than five to six inches will be standing at five to six feet tall in just 3 months time! Sweetcorn is one of our favourite crops to grow on our allotment as it is relatively easy (there are lots of disease free varieties to choose from now), and there is absolutely nothing that is nicer than freshly picked corn on the cob, taken home and cooked within half an hour of picking, it is naturally sweeter than you can ever begin to imagine – boiling is all that is required, no seasoning, no butter….. just corn on the cob, as it comes – yum! The children are already looking forward to the harvest!

Next to our corn is the garlic, which went in last October, the leaves are just now starting to die back and then it will be ready to harvest. I seem to recall we went for a fairly large variety, so let’s hope for some lovely big bulbs – photos to follow!

Next is our Mange Tout (which always makes me adopt my best Del Boy accent “Mange Tout, Mange Tout Rodney”!). These too were grown from seed in march and planted out about 6 weeks ago. We got our first produce from the plants on the 29th May and are now picking every second day, getting enough for a family of 4 from about 26 plants.

The other half of our plot is given over to fruit – the Blueberries, Blackcurrants, Blackberries and Raspberries are all coming, yet to ripen, but it wont be long.  We put in two Gooseberry plants this year so it will be interesting to see what they do. We have 5 different varieties of Raspberries which fruit from late June through to September!

Our strawberries are grown  outside and it looks like they are going to do really well this year – again we had our very first harvest, only about 5 in total – but it’s a start – this week and there are plenty more to come.

Two years ago we planted two new apple trees and a Victoria Plum to join our existing (quite old) cherry tree.  The apple trees have done amazingly well from their first summer, although they are ‘dwarf trees’ which means they are always small plants they are literally laden down apples to the extent that we have to provide some support for the branches!  Until this year the Plum has been a disappointment, but this year it too is laden with fruit so we are eagerly waiting for it all to ripen and hoping the good weather continues.  Even our poor old cherry tree has a decent amount of fruit on it this year – it must have been the perfect combination of sunshine and showers – so far!

Last but not least, since taking the photos we have invested in two cherry tomatoe plants – last year was so hot we had more tomoatoes than we could cope with off 6 plants so we have scaled back this year, though of course it all depends on what the weather does – we shall see!

There are a couple of photos also of our amazing common comfrey bed. This amazing herb is related to Borage and has a plethora of uses. So many infact that it is worthy of a blog in its own right! We grow it mainly to use as a mulch, or steeped in water which creates an amazing liquid plant feed.  We also add it to our compost bins as it improves the quality of the compost produced. However the bell shaped flowers also provide nectar and pollen to many species of bees and other insects from late May until the first frosts in late autumn so I try to harvest half of the crop at a time, giving it a chance to grow back (which happens very quickly) before taking the other half.  It is lovely to see many, many insects on our plot, and to really embrace the symbotic relationship we have with them.

Happy summer gardening!