Time to start reaping the rewards...

With Geoff away, it is my turn to take control of the allotment and the blog! Finally, summer has arrived and it’s a pleasure to be working under clear blue skies. I am amazed at how well the allotment is doing, we are harvesting fruit and veg on a daily basis and it tastes wonderful. I don’t think we have had any disappointments yet. Here’s an update…

The broad beans and peas are coming to the end of their life so we are cutting them back and putting them on the compost - they did well, especially the peas which I can confirm definitely tasted better fresh than the frozen ones you can buy.

The chard is growing really well, chard isn’t a very common vegetable in the UK yet, it tends to be big in France and we’re slowly cottoning onto it over here. I think it’s wonderful, the coloured stems are fantastic and it’s easy to cook: simply cut it at the base of the stem, separate the leaves from the stem (as the stems need longer to cook), then boil, steam, stir-fry, or roast them (boil stems for approx. 3-4 mins, and leaves for approx.1-2 mins).

The French beans are doing really well and the runner beans are coming along nicely. I am a big advocate of eating them raw straight off the plant; they are lovely and juicy and will beat any snack you get in a packet!

The carrots are ready to crop so I will be doing that in the next few weeks, once I have lifted them I’ll take them straight to the restaurant (obviously taking a few home with me to carry out my quality checks!).

The onions have finished growing, we are leaving them to dry in the sun ready to harvest in about four weeks' time. It’s a relief to have one less thing to water as watering is a time-consuming job on a plot of this size. It’s taking a couple of hours a day but we’re fortunate to have well-drained raised beds so I can put the hose on them and flood them, rather than stand there for hours (the water comes from the lake so we’re only using what we harvest throughout the year).

In the top bed by the Commemorative Garden, we had some old, neglected raspberry canes, blackcurrant bushes and pear trees, I cut these back hard at the beginning of the year and they seem to be doing well, particularly the pear tree which has an abundance of fruit on it. 
Also in this bed we have some artichokes, we don’t harvest these; they’re there to add structure and interest, but they look fantastic as you can see from the picture.

Finally, over in the greenhouse, the peat-free tomato trial is continuing. I have pinched out the tops of the tomatoes so the plants put their energy into producing fruit, rather than growing upwards. Unfortunately, the tomatoes growing in peat-containing grow bags are performing better than those in peat-free bags but we’re not giving up yet, I am feeding the peat-free ones and I think it’s a great opportunity to learn about how to grow in peat-free matter. 

Interestingly, we have trialled a new peelable, rubber paint on the roof of the greenhouse this year as it can get a bit too hot inside. As you can see, it looks smart (it’s available in a range of colours) and we can peel it off later in the year should we want to – I would definitely recommend it if your greenhouse is in direct sunshine all day (Thorndown peelable glass paint).

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