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August Top Allotment Tips

tomatoes growing

The fluctuating weather of July certainly kept allotment holders on their toes. Courgettes for instance went from standing still to suddenly putting on a growth spurt when the sun and warmth came. Two weeks later they were cropping rather nicely. Another success has been cabbage “Golden Acre” which has been racing through the gears producing some lovely tight heads over the past few weeks.

Meanwhile some plot holders had their first tomatoes in the last week of July; the ultra- dependable cherry variety, “Gardeners Delight” proving its virtues of fast maturing with a tangy sweet flavour.
One of the stars of my plot so this year has been the humble purple dwarf french bean “Purple Queen”. This diminutive little plant survived a battle with slugs in early summer to become a mainstay of our dinner plate recently. The pods are small but tender and flavoursome. The more you pick the more you get and that is every bit as good as it sounds. The plants are so small they can be squeezed in just about any gap too.

The aforementioned slugs were a real challenge during the wet spell we had. One pointed cabbage I harvested had no less than twelve slugs inside the outer leaves! The rest of it tasted great though….Copper continues to prove a worthy deterrent to slugs. Copper tape on the pots in the greenhouse has proved one hundred percent effective. Slug copper rings on the ground outdoors continue to give almost complete protection too. Both are a great weapon in the armoury of the natural gardener.

An important task as August progresses is to plant out spring cabbage plants into their final growing conditions. F1 Hispi has been around a good number of years but is still one of the best. I like overwintering cabbage plants to become established before autumn. The harvest period should then be from late March to the end of May. The overwintering cabbage “Wheelers Imperial” is another firm favourite I’ve had good success with over many years. Both are reliable and both can be grown quite close together making them perfect for anyone with a small sized plot or even for growing in large containers.

There are peaks and troughs on our plots and although my established asparagus did well this year, results with my newly planted young crowns are mixed. Several are establishing well, while the others have sat in the soil refusing to grow, in a semi- permanent dormant state. A check of the crowns themselves revealed they were still alive and looking fine, just without any growth! There is a need for the plants to photosynthesize and despite extra watering nothing changed. As a last resort I dug up the unresponsive crowns and planted them in pots in the greenhouse. What a transformation! Within a week new ferns had appeared on them all and I am now growing them on in pots for the rest of the year. The heat clearly kick started the crowns and it now looks as if all will be well as I tentatively put them back outside!

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About Lee Senior

Lee Senior is an experienced horticultural writer, RHS Yorkshire in Bloom judge and horticultural consultant. He has also had an allotment for over 25 years. After initially spurning horticulture as a career option, to pursue his boyhood dream of becoming a train driver, Lee soon realised he couldn't resist getting his hands dirty to make a living. Horticultural College training led, to getting an allotment at the tender age of 18 (in the days when you could actually get a plot quickly). My gardening hero, is Geoff Hamilton" says Lee. "It was Geoff who convinced me that you didn't have to spray everything that moved in the garden. Watching him on Gardeners’ World in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s was a revelation. I was lucky enough to meet Geoff and I’ve also more recently had the pleasure of meeting Joe Swift. Now over two decades of practical experience has taught me to work with mother nature, not to fight against her and don't try to tame her, as so many gardeners seem to be on a mission to do. Small-scale food growing is my passion and I can't wait for my two daughters, one who is 8 years old and the other who is 5 to hopefully pick up the baton in the future. Nothing beats the flavour and satisfaction of growing your own food. You simply cannot buy the same quality and freshness. Everyone can have a go at growing something says Lee, no matter where they live. Lee has also written his two books; 'Pennine Way, The Highs and Lows' which is a humorous, personal account of walking this momentous iconic walk. His second book 'Walking in the Aire', features 14 short walks in Yorkshire.

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