What a difference a week makes…
After a week away wildlife watching in Suffolk, Geoff is back and there’s a lot to catch up on in Oliver’s allotment.

This time last year my garden was alive with butterflies but unfortunately, due to the cold, wet weather, this year has not been so good for them. I was wondering when they might make an appearance, so I was pleased to be welcomed back to the allotment this week by a couple of meadow brown and large skipper butterflies flitting about.
Everything seems to have doubled in size on the allotment since I’ve been away, I won’t go into detail on everything but a few points of interest include…

The herb garden is alive with bees and small tortoiseshell butterflies – if you want to grow a herb that is wildlife-friendly, choose chives they are almost as tempting to bees as lavender. The bees love the nectar and the simple shaped flower makes it easy for them to feed from.  Our chives have just finished flowering and have gone to seed so I have cut them right back, they will soon shoot up again ready to be used in a salad.
The sweet peas have come into flower and are smelling fantastic, if you have some at home remember that the more you pick them the more they grow.

As I look around I can see that the borage is in flower and alive with bees. Borage leaves taste a bit like cucumber and the edible flowers are often used to decorate a jug of Pimms.

The Commemorative Garden is looking superb, it’s that special time when all the roses are out in flower but none of them need deadheading yet. It looks colourful and lush, and as I stand in the middle of the garden I am bombarded with the most beautiful scent of summer.
Back on the allotment, the lettuces are doing really well and we’re supplying 3 or 4 each day to the restaurant, each time I pick one I plant another to keep the crop going throughout the summer.

Tony is on holiday at the moment so I am taking advantage of his broad beans, I did the first taste test yesterday and I can confirm that they are lovely – don’t stay away too long Tony or you might miss out!
The peas are doing really well and although they are ready to harvest as mange tout, we’re going to let them fill out and grow into peas. I think the reason they are doing so well is because we staked them out early on, if you don’t stake them they can end up laying on the ground and floundering about but with good support, they’ll go for it like ours are.
I’m excited to see that the beetroot is ready to harvest, this is one of my favourites so I’m going to take a couple home to roast, I’ll let you know how they taste.
The runner beans have reached the top of the canes, they should start flowering soon, and then we can start picking them at the end of July, these are another one where the more you pick, the more you get.
The sweetcorn has shot up over the last week, another one that I’m looking forward to taste testing, just looking at them I can imagine the sweet taste of those little yellow corns.

Over in the Greenhouse now that the seedling veg is out, I’m using the seed benches for wildflower seeds which I’m growing ready for planting out on the Nature Trail in the autumn.
Finally, the peat-free Tomato trial is hotting up; Tony’s tomatoes (grown in compost containing peat) look better than my slightly paler ones which are in peat-free compost but the proof is in the pudding so I am awaiting the final taste test in a few weeks.

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