July 2012



July 1st

 Well,I'll get the miserable stuff out of the way first.


I have an automatic rain guage at the plot mainly so I can judge how much water I need to put onto the show stuff like carrots and parsnips etc.

As you can see by this months measurements,not bloody much !

215 mm in a single month which is over 8 inches and 115mm in a single 24 hr period.

Needless to say I've not been up to much but have managed to harvest a bit of stuff.


Thanks to the tunnel I managed a few courgettes,cucs and my 1st strawberries.
Outside I emptied out a pot of Red Duke of York potatoes which are a bit of a Heritage variety which means a fantastic taste but a pretty small yield.

And the good old Kale is now growing well as it seems to like the rain.

So I didn't take any photos but managed to scuttle round the plot with the video camera when inbetween showers to give a bit of an update.

Vid below,click to play,cheers.

July 6th.

Turned out nice again !

The sweltering arrid dry scorching Summer so far has made some of my early overwintered garlic and onions ready to harvest.....or maybe they've just drowned.


The Garlic was a hard neck variety called "Marco" which has grow really strangeley with no outer skin on the bulb and each clove standing proud of the stem ?

Don't think I'll bother with this type again as by all accounts it's not a good keeper either.

My overwintered Japanese onions were starting to flop over so I pulled a few up.

Reasonable size at just around the half pound mark so I decided to try to ripen a few of the best for some of my veg shows in Sept.


I set aside the best,most even 6 and stripped the skins back up to the first unbroken one and these will be left to dry out and ripen hopefully to a nice brown colour come September.


The monsoon like rain of late has made my potatoes grow unbelievably tall,so much so that I can't get between the rows anymore.

The show carrots are a mixed bunch with the stump varieties seeming to be growing quite well but some feeble looking long varieties with pretty pathetic top growth on a few.


Anyway as you can see the rain has certainly made the veg grow.


The Hurst Greenshaft peas are now covered in flowers with the first pods arriving too so all this rain should mean a really heavy harvest from now on.


The exhibition onions I put down for seed are amazing now with 6 giant flower heads,all I need now is some bees and other pollenating bugs to give me a hand and set some seed.


Still in the polytunnel my show carrots are racing away and are developing a decent root already,maybe a bit too soon but by September I'll know for sure.

The courgette plant is bigger than ever this year and is sending out about 5 new courgette fruits a week.

Variety is "Defender" and is the best one out there by far.


The climbing french beans "Cobra" have reached the top of the canes and have been trained horizontally across strings above head height to add another 6ft of height to the plant and more beans.

Lower down the plant the first flowers are forming so I await the impending Beanfeast.


I'm harvesting a few bits and bobs on a daily basis but the brocolli is about finished now with just a few of the last side shoots left,but because it was so early it frees up a bit of space to get a final sowing of lettuce in for later on.


Over on the exhibition onion front the big Kelsaes are still ticking over despite the lack of sun and are around the 15-15.5" circ.

Similarly the Giant Peter Glazebrook ones are now catching up after a very slow start and are the same size.


Over on this years giant pumpkin front I couldn't be happier especially given the late frosts and lack of warmth things seem to have flown along.

All 3 are about 10 feet long now and have outgrown the protective mesh and polythene wind breaks so they'll have to fend for themselves now.

I've been burying the main stem and side shoots at each leaf axil which promotes secondary rooting at that point providing more energy to the plant and also helps anchor it down.

All that's needed now is for some fruit to appear and hopefully try to get one pollenated.


Tha same thing with the giant marrow,this is about 12 feet long and actually has a small embryonic fruit appearing so hopefully when the flower opens I can do the dirty deed and fertilize it with a male flower.


And finally as I'm very bored and quite strange I wanted to try to grow a square courgette.

So I made a very strong square box out of 1/2" ply and screws,placed this over a small courgette on the plant and let it grow on intending it to fill its new home.


Oh how I underestimated the immense power of said courgette which broke the box and ripped the screws out.

Mind you it was pretty square in the end.

I was eager to try my Red Duke of York 1st earlies so I emptied out a pot,but I was a bit premature as the yield wasn't too great,mind you these Heritage varieties are low on yield but great on taste.

And I can say they are the tastiest spuds I've ever grown.

Did a vid below,click to play,Cheers,Dan.

July 13th.

Weather still crap and things just ticking over outside.

Thankfully I have a polytunnel and half a big greenhouse to go at.


In the Greenhouse I'm starting to get quite a few tomatoes beginning to develop on the lower trusses,these are my favourite variety of tom "Shirley" which will cope with a bit of cooler weather more so than most greenhouse varieties.

I've got a few Gardeners Delight and Sweet Million Cherry types growing away well to despite the lack of sunshine.

One thing that I've noticed this year is that many of the tomato feeds don't seem to have any Magnesium in them,I have some Tomorite and no mention on the chemical breakdown.

Tomatoes suffer from a lack of magnesium as you can see from the lower leaves of my plants the tell tale symptoms of it are yellowing and then browning of the leaves between the veins,so you must get a tom food with it in it.

I'm ditching the general liquid feeds for good old Phostrogen which has the same high potash but also contains trace minerals and the much needed Magnesium.

Another thing with tomatoes is that you can sometimes get the bottom of the fruit going black and rotting,known as blossom end rot.
Many theories exist as to why this happens,letting the compost dry out and then overwatering,but some say it is a lack of Calcium so I give them a watering of diluted dolomite lime from time to time which seems to stop the problem and gives some extra Magnesium too.


The chilli and pepper plants are finally starting to grow quite well but no signs of any flowers at all so not much chance of a bumper crop this year.

I'm growing some "Peter Peppers" which have a phallic fruit just to give the old biddies at our local show something to giggle at.....Google the name.....

The little compact "Prarie Fire" chilli plants are slow this year and are a bit leggy due to the low light levels.


The longer Cucumbers are starting to produce a bit now and I'm glad I bought a couple of pepper plants off the market earlier as these have a mass of peppers on already.

So that's about it this week,I managed to get out on the only sunny day and do a video of my developing giant Marrow & Pumpkin Plants.

Vid below,click to play.


July 22nd.

Started to harvest the first french beans in the polytunnel this week.


These are the variety "Cobra" and are the most productive french bean imaginable.

I can expect at least 20 lbs off just 6 plants in a 3ft row over the season....honestly !!! a 3ft row.They just keep on producing and sending a new stem up the cane at every leaf joint so you just keep getting more and more flowers and beans to follow.


I'm trying a new climbing bean called Blauhilde which is a climbing purple variety basically for Harrogate Show which has a class.

It is a strange colour with fluorescent green leaves and a red stem so we'll see how it turns out.


My peas are almost ready to pick now and just need a couple more days to fill the pods.

These are Hurst Greenshaft which I think are a great variety and have 10 peas in a pod.


Thinned out my second crop of lettuce to the final spacings,as you can see the first sowings are growing well and I've been eating these for a while now.

One thing that seems to have loved all the rain.

The transplanted leeks are now established and starting to grow on well.


The garlic is still growing strongly with no signs of yellowing or toppling over but I had a scrat about and the bulbs aren't very big,hopefully a bit of decent sunny weather will make them swell to a decent size in the next few weeks.

I sowed some Kelsae seed last month with the idea of trying to produce my own giant onion sets by sowing late the idea is that they bulb up with only a few tiny leaves on,form a small bulb and then these can be stored over winter and planted out next year.

If it works it'll take all the hassle out of growing onions from seed under lights in November and having to look after them all winter.


The shallots I harvested last month are drying out very well under the cover of the tunnel and hopefully should store well.

The ones I grew from seed this year are getting huge,but they seem to have very thick necks due to all the wet weather so these should be harder to store,so I'll just eat them as I pull them I think.


My pumpkin plants are really flying now and one is over 20 feet long and growing wider by the day.

I managed to pollenate a pumpkin on one but whether it grows is another matter.


Similarly the Marrow plant is huge and I managed to set a fruit last week which is growing visibly on a daily basis.

I managed a 52 pounder last year but It was too late to put it into any shows.

Hopefully this will be even bigger and I can put it into a show or two.


Over on the Exhibition Onion front they are still ticking along nicely with the average size being about 17.5-18" circ which is about the 3-3.5lb mark.

I'm aiming for about 21-22" in the next few weeks which would be around the 5lb mark but who knows ?


So finally at the end of July things look good,if about a month behind last year.


And at last a really good haul of new potatoes from one of the 35 litre pots.

2 weeks ago I got about a handfull but this week I managed 5.5lb of Nicola from a single pot and just 2 seed potatoes.

Anyway I did a video of the unearthing fully expecting another disaster.

Video below,click to play,Cheers.

July 28th.

Well,I have finally suffered from what numerous folk all over the country have done this season and got Blight.  

From a perfectly green spud patch one day to several yellowing dying plants the next.


All looks fine but just in the far left corner the blight struck (right pic) and as It's so rapid I thought the only thing to do was to harvest the lot and not risk any of the tubers getting tuber blight from spores washing down through the soil onto them.


The crop was a tad on the small size but not too bad at all.Managed a great yield of pink fir apples from just one pot.King Edwards were a bit too small as they are a maincrop and take longer to bulk up.


Got a few of the Salad Blues as well which are bright purple all the way through.


So it's just a matter of drying them out a bit and storing them all.

Pretty decent result considering how early they've been lifted.


Apart from the blight disaster everything else is ticking along nicely and I'm getting plenty harvested.

First peas and beans this week.


One thing that seems to love the wet is the giant marrow.

This is it just 10 days after the fruit set and it's almost 18" long and getting on for 10 pounds in just 10 days !!.....bonkers...



I've got a YouTube channel full of various vids here : AllotmentDiaryYoutube

And I've got myself a Facebook Page click the link if you're interested,Cheers.


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