Allotment Adventures: Soft Fruit Empire

Great Britain doesn’t have a lot of fruit options grown in the country, apples and pears are our mainstay, we do get other fruit in season, strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries, plums, rhubarb to name a few, there are others.

When you look at things that are cost effective for growing on a plot, it’s soft fruit that comes up most often. We have a plum tree on the plot and I inherited gooseberry bushes (which have been hit and miss), raspberries (they were summer raspberries and we’ve taken them out since!) and rhubarb. There was a blackcurrant bush but it was sat on top of an ants nest and the previous owner was planning to take it up because it wasn’t productive (so I did!).

I like soft fruit and I wanted to have lots of it on the plot but it takes time. This year might be our best year for fruit (and there are plans for next year.) and we kicked off with the first raspberries this weekend, you can also see the first two blueberries and some strawberries in there too!

Raspberry rich!

That done, Ma and I got to grips with the squash. Some of them have some up and some of them haven’t. The winter squash has been the most disappointing in terms of germinating, the Sibley Storage and Hokkaido didn’t come up at all. All seven of the Waltham Butternuts came up, and the six Honeybears and Casperitas, four of the Anna Swartz. We planted those out and I’d bought a packet of Uchiki Kuri from Wilko and sowed some of those direct into the bed, it was a 75p gamble. I also added the soil from the pots of the failed squash into the beds if the seeds have a change of heart we might get something!

Around two of the arches we sowed Giantes and Lazy Housewife for dried beans (for those you keeping up, that should give us three types of dried beans!), we also sowed nasturtiums in the path down the middle. Last year we split a larger bed in half, the path has had a two layers of cardboard and woodchip on it and all of that has composted into lovely soil, which the oregano and other weeds have enjoyed seeding into. We, who am I kidding?, Ma weeded it but left the oregano on my instructions but against her better judgement, I don’t mind the oregano and my idea is that with the nasturtiums, there are flowers for the pollinators and they look and smell nice. If they get overpowering, we can pull them up.

Squash and bean beds

We didn’t build the third arch until later, but I’ll so climbing french beans up there later on, we already have dwarf french beans in a bed so I want to give it a bit of time so it’s successional and we’re not dealing with too much of a glut!

The summer squash has been sluggish too, the courgettes and early prolific straight neck came up but of the pattypans only one has come up and clearly only this week, the same for the crooknecks. We planted the courgettes and and straight necks out and left the crooknecks and pattypans in the poly for the minute, but we have weeded and prepped the beds we hope they will go into.

Cucumber bed and summer squash beds

We also wrestled with some wire to put in the middle of the cucumber bed, we sowed them direct and this year it’s Early Fortune and Boothby’s Blond. Cucumbers on my plot are wayward, after several failures, we just stick them in the ground, sow some dill, water and hope for the best. We generally get something. Next year, I want to work more on sowing things in the polytunnel before I plant out but for this year, we’re sticking with my haphazard outdoor sowing method!

Finally, I rigged something for the polytunnel for the melons we also sowed this week.

Melon thing

It’s not the sturdiest but we’ll see how it goes, if and when the melon vines appear. That’s the polytunnel beds filled. I have some camomile, basil and the summer squash left. I do need to find space for the Sungold tomatoes that still haven’t arrived but I also have a couple of takers for some of them, I’d like to hang onto six and I think I can find some space for them.

We are pretty much planted up now, I have two more summer beds that are waiting to be filled and four other beds that are empty or needing to be cleared but one is for fennel and the others will house some of the brassicas that are due in July.

We fed the birds (I think feeding them through summer is stopping them from attacking my beds!) and my plot neighbour gave me a spare blueberry plant will will save me buying one.


Our plan for next week is harvesting, weeding, and watering. It may be time to tie up my tomatoes but we’ll see, it’s been pretty wet and grey this week so they might not need it!

About nicdempsey

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