Allotment Adventures: August Abundance

Last week, before I went to nephew sit, I dealt with all the produce, things were preserved, pickled, pesto-ed and jammed and I was feeling in control of the produce.

However, last Thursday it rained for an entire morning (we could do with a couple more days of that kind of rain) it was combined with slightly cooler temps over the weekend and although I had a friend water the poly, nothing else got watered or cared for. The plot was not deterred and yesterday, Ma and I collected 15 cucumbers, 15 summer squash, 1.2kg of cherry tomatoes, three boxes of raspberries, some blueberries, just over a kilo of potatoes.

Produce Haul

August is a tiring month on the plot for us and for the plot, all the plants are trying to get done before the autumn and Ma and I are just trying to keep up.

The polytunnel is bursting, if you cast your mind back to May when I panicked about the tomatoes and ordered 12 Sungold tomatoes via a Grown Your Own magazine offer and when they turned up, they weren’t Sungold and they were in a state and I took the last three and planted them up and put the container in the poly and hoped for the best? Only one of the three survived. Clearly ‘plant Sparta – they live or they die’ really worked for the one that lived because it’s trying to take over the poly. It’s not the only plant trying to do that, the sweet potatoes are wild. Last year we grew them outside and it was a really bad summer so we got some but not many reasonably sized potatoes, this year I did them in the poly and we had the kind of summer that they would have been fine in. The irony. If they’ve done well in the poly, I’ll probably do some inside and some outside and see what we get…

Tumbling Tom plant

I did manage last week, to pot up some of the herbs I got for my birthday, either out or into bigger pots, and some of the mints I’ll leave in the poly over winter to try and stretch out our mint tea supply. Because I had a couple of duplicates, I potted the berries and cream and ginger mints into bigger pots and used the pots the older plants were in to pot up the blackcurrant sage, olive plant and parsley, the basils I bought at Wisley went out into one of the tomato beds.

I have a load of other plants in trays in the polytunnel that need planting out/giving away but right now, the ground is too hard. I may just have to wait until next spring.

Outside, we’re not having the best squash year ever, the butternut squash have managed one fruit and overall it’s not going to be like 2020 when I think we managed 40, I’m going to need to amend the soil in the beds because everything seems to be struggling a bit. With the slightly cooler weather the beans we are growing for drying up the arches (lazy housewife and giantes) have recovered and there are beans. Which is good because the dwarf drying beans (Jacobs Cattle) have not done well at all. Ma and I have been discussing beans and next year, I’m only going to grow beans and peas (I want to try carlin peas and I think borlottis would also be a good shout!) for drying up the arches and dwarf beans will be for fresh eating only.

Giantes (yes they are a type of runner bean)

The summer squash are also running riot and along with the cucumbers have mildew, I could do more about it but its’s September, the cukes have only got two or three more weeks in them and while I hope to grab some time at the weekend to cut the worst of the leaves off the patty pan and the straight and crookneck squash, their time is coming too. I’m not touching the hybrid courgettes. I can’t remember if I mentioned that I planted four courgette plants, and they are not producing courgettes, I think they must have crossed with a winter squash because they are running rampant and two are producing courgette shaped fruit and one is producing a round courgette and the other is producing something pear shaped and pale green (you can see them in the top photo). They are also running all over the plot with what I can only assume is hybrid vigour.

Everything is a bit crispy

They aren’t bitter and they eat fine so we’re using them. I want to put a disclaimer in here, in 2021, there seemed to be a lot of squash seeds that had crossed, on some of the groups I’m on there was lots of talk about how the fruit they produced was poisonous and should never be eaten. Toxic squash syndrome is a thing, it’s caused when a squash has cucurbitacins in it. The squash would taste bitter and should be binned, ours don’t taste bitter but if they did, I would throw them away. I’m telling you what I’ve done, not what you should do!

We’ve bought garlic for autumn planting and have the first of the two sets of planters, we want to use for strawberries, I’ve bought another nine bags of compost for this and for the cherry, lime and lemon trees, that really need to go into bigger pots. It’s past time to repot the blueberry bushes so we either need to buy and have some ericaceous compost delivered or we need to wait until Christmas when we have a car, we’ll see what the budget is doing after we’ve paid the rent for the year and sorted out the strawberries.

This weekend we will try to do more than water and harvest, I would really like to find the time to plant out the leeks and sow chard, turnips, pak choi and radishes. There was a massive pile of woodchip at the plot and if it’s still there, I’d like to collect some to re-up the paths, but the paths also need to be weeded, I have lots of cardboard but I’m not sure that this is the best course of action because it’s so dry. I also need to cut the grass on the paths down, generally tidy up and it’s probably time for another turn of the compost and to riddle the stuff that’s mostly broken down and has been sitting for a year.

Lots and lots to do…

About nicdempsey

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7 Responses to Allotment Adventures: August Abundance

  1. hatfieldhogs says:

    What are you planning on doing with all your cucumbers!? I’ve had lots this year, giving some away when I can but thinking of making some sweet cucumber pickle 😃

    • nicdempsey says:

      I’ve quick pickled some but at some point, I really need to try water bathing them so they can keep in a cupboard and not take up space in my fridge! But I like them to be crunchy, I need to find someone at the allotments that will give me some grape leaves (the tannin in them apparently helps keep them crisp! Right now I’ll probably just eat them! Greek salad for the win…

  2. hatfieldhogs says:

    I didn’t get round to making the pickle….but I did find a recipe from the Delia Smith Summer collection for tomato and cucumber soup, it’s delicious!

  3. Pingback: Allotment Adventures: I Grew a Melon | Nic Dempsey

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