Recently, I lost most of my redcurrant crop to a pesky pigeon or three. Admittedly there are other potential culprits too, including blackbirds and thrushes. I don’t mind as everything in nature has a role and is there to eat. It is my own fault for not investing in a fruit cage and also being lax with netting. I’ll need to invest in one or the other.
I’ve been a little more proactive protecting my blueberries, which are now providing a fine crop. Blueberries are easy to grow when given lime-free ericaceous compost or soil and plenty of rainwater. All my family eat these highly nutritious fruits, making them a must-have on my plot. Interestingly, the raspberries seem to be less prone to theft from birds. I don’t cover them and they seem to survive!
There are plenty of other crops to harvest now, not least runner beans and courgettes! Both are prolific and both respond favourably to regular harvesting. I can’t always keep up and we’ve made an ad-hoc courgette ‘chutney’, which contains plenty of other allotment favourites too; including garlic and tomatoes.
During damp, cool spells, I’ve been transplanting young swede plants into their final positions. I sowed some seed in cells as spares too, in case the direct sowing failed. It certainly helps to have a contingency. It is a good job as the germination of the direct seeds has been patchy so the transplants have come in handy.
Seeds to Sow
At this time of year we are approaching a busy period with a surprising number of seeds to sow. From the end of July through to mid-August it is the turn of spring cabbage. When sowing directly, again I sow some seed in cells as a back up- to grow on outdoors. I’ll plant them in their final positions later.
Sometimes cell-grown plants are stronger than seedlings growing directly in the ground. Although they do need care when transplanting and copious amounts of water in dry periods. Any surplus cell grown plants can be given away to allotment friends and neighbours. Direct sown plants have to contend with pest attack from slugs, whitefly and cabbage white butterflies. A positive aspect is that less work is needed. There is also no risk of a setback in growth while transplanting.
A less common member of the brassica clan is the fast growing Pak Choi (also known as Chinese cabbage). The F1 variety ‘Hanakan’ can be sown now until the middle of the month.
Salad (spring) onions ‘White Lisbon’ can also be sown during in August and September for overwintering. They are easy to grow and along with radish ‘French Breakfast’ are great starter crops for beginners. I’ll harvest them during next March and April. Both have been a stalwart on my plot for years.
Finally, I’ll be sowing salad leaves and spinach ‘Amazon’ for a late season hit of healthy and tasty nutritional leaves for sandwiches or a picnic.
There is still time to buy overwintering onions, garlic and shallots for planting directly during September and October. Buying a bumper collection pack containing two varieties of each is very cost -effective and any surplus can be given away.
Building up goodwill like this on allotment sites is never a bad thing. You never know when you’ll need to call in a favour next year!