The Allotment in August

The Allotment in August - after one of the coolest and wettest summers on the plot.
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Somewhere in between a holiday to Venice, a friend visiting from Switzerland, and rainy and cool weather my allotment has been left by the wayside. While further south in England the weather has been bright and sunny, the Isle of Man has probably had the worst summer since 2012. That summer was heralded as the wettest one on record and here’s how bad my allotment was then.

I had grand plans of spending an hour or two every morning on my plots but after early July that plan has been scrapped. Now late in August, my top plot is weedy in the areas I’ve been working on but fortunately black plastic covers the rest. The very last image in this post shows its sorry state! My bottom plot is a jungle and I’m not going to shock you with pictures of that until I have a chance to clear it. Still, we planted it earlier in the year with about fifty seed potatoes and I’ve started digging some of them up. So far it’s been some of the Salad Blues, Maris Pipers, and Desiree. I think that Josh and I are going to be eating potato dishes until this time next year.

Container grown baby salad greens and ruby chard

Container grown baby salad greens and ruby chard

Growing containers of strawberries, herbs, greens, and other veggies at home has been much more of a success. It’s handy to nip out for a handful of this or that and to do a bit of weeding, even if the weather isn’t great. Earlier in the year I built a wheeled pallet planter that has also transformed a decent sized piece of concrete patio into growing space and has given me a couple crops of lettuce, coriander (cilantro), spinach, and now carrots. Here’s how I built it.

Container grown carrots 'Parisian Market'

Container grown round carrots ‘Parisian Market’

Lettuce grows well in shallow containers

Lettuce grows well in shallow containers

I’m also trying to grow Cucamelons this year and have the vines planted in a shallow container that I have filled with compost and rotted manure. The plants themselves are growing well but the fruits are still tiny. I hope we’ll get more sun to plump them up but as I look out the window behind me all I see is grey skies. Predicting that we’ll have more of this autumnal weather on the cards I’ve gone ahead and sown the wheeled pallet planter with Lambs Lettuce and a variety of heirloom lettuce called Reine des Glaces, which doesn’t mind a bit of chilliness.

Immature Cucamelon fruits - these are tiny cucumbers that resemble miniature watermelons

Immature Cucamelon fruits – these are tiny cucumbers that resemble miniature watermelons

Cucamelon vines growing in a container

Cucamelon vines growing in a container

At the allotment I do have small amounts of some produce giving a bit of a harvest. Three courgette (zucchini) plants including a yellow ball type are producing steadily and of course I have the mountains of spuds under the ground. Another root veggie I’m growing this year is Oca, which is colourful tuber that reminds me of a pine cone in shape. In flavour it’s supposed to taste like a lemony potato and I’m pretty excited to try these out when they’re ready. Right now the plants look like a type of lush green wood sorrel and if you taste the leaves they have the same sharp oxalic acid taste as well. The plants must be related.

Zucchini (Courgette) 'One Ball'

Zucchini (Courgette) ‘One Ball’

On the surface, the tuber 'Oca' has leaves that look and taste like wood sorrel

On the surface, the tuber ‘Oca’ has leaves that look and taste like wood sorrel

I’ve had one gherkin from my two cucumber plants but judging from the size of the vines I can’t see that I’ll get too much more out of them. On the other hand, the perennial fruit and greens I have planted are putting out big shows of berries, artichokes, and oniony leaves. I still swear by having Welsh onions around instead of spring onions and this year they’ve once again kept me in what can only be described as massive Chives. Perennials are the way to go!

Only one Gherkin so far this season

Only one Gherkin so far this season

Red currants make excellent jelly that is great with savory dishes like Swedish Meatballs

Red currants make excellent jelly that is great with savory dishes like Swedish Meatballs

My newer plot came with a row of Autumn fruiting raspberries both light coloured and red and they’re just now beginning to fruit. I’m fascinated with the light yellow berries because, like my white strawberries, they taste the same as the red ones but the birds don’t seem to want much to do with them. The berries that have ripened haven’t gone much further than my mouth though I’m hoping to make some raspberry jam if I do get a decent harvest.

White strawberries taste the same as red ones but they are overlooked by birds who think they aren't ripe yet.

White strawberries taste similar to red ones

Light coloured raspberries are often overlooked by birds

Light coloured raspberries are often overlooked by birds

overgrown-garden

They say that a gardener has to be an optimistic soul – each year brings with it unpredictable challenges and in my case it’s the weather. Even with the miserable state of my allotment I still feel I’m getting some value from it, especially since I do love working in it when the sun is shining. Even so, I’ll be honest and say that this summer has more than ever turned my mind towards having a little greenhouse for next year.

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8 Discussion to this post

  1. CJ says:

    Lovely to see your plot, even if it is weedy. Mine is much the same. Never enough time! I haven’t been for a few days, so no doubt there will be hundreds of beans and courgettes the size of marrows. I have high hopes for next year! CJ xx

  2. Dee Sewell says:

    Our summer here in Ireland was pretty average. A wet July but August picked up, sounds like you had the rain we’ve been getting past summers! I’m kindof wishing my whole vegetable garden was under plastic these days. Weeds are having a field day out there right now! We had a great crop of fruit though – a coincidence since the bees moved in? Not sure but now to keep the wasps away from them (the fruit and the bees!)

  3. Patti Estep says:

    Tanya,
    The wet weather is a drag. I planted a few tomatoes and peppers and boy are they sorry looking. Still, I love your unique choices. So fun and those red currants are gorgeous!!

  4. Caro says:

    I love the look of that round yellow courgette, Tanya – gorgeous colour! I had the same problem with cucamelons last year, lots of leaf but tiny small fruits that just never came to anything. I’m back to growing achocha this year which are beginning to fruit madly (even if the vines are now over the top of my 8ft arch and back down the other side! Yikes!) Looks like you’ve got your work cut out with that allotment – let’s hope for a bit more summer!

    • lovelygreens says:

      I came across your Achocha seed packet again recently – well a photo of it when I was cleaning up some of my older posts! I do think I’ll grow them again next year too. You can really count on them to produce a crop.

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