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July Allotment Tips

july allotment tips allotment

Harvesting on the allotment is in full swing and it feels great! Almost every visit now yields a wonderful selection of fresh, healthy, safe to eat produce. Retailers can but dream of supplying such a range of food, eaten within hours of picking.

If anyone has any doubt about why they should have an allotment, the next few months will dispel those thoughts. Yesterday I went home with broad beans (sown last December), early potatoes, Japanese onions (planted last September), plenty of early garlic, a little gem lettuce, a pointed cabbage, beetroot and lots of radish. Not a bad haul. I have to admit I still find it every bit as exciting to harvest from my allotment today as it was thirty years ago.

Last week I covered my redcurrant bush “Rovada” as I noticed the berries were starting to colour. Growing soft fruit such as red/black/white currants is pretty straightforward and to be recommended for both beginners and experienced hands alike.

Meanwhile gooseberry bushes are almost ready to pick too. Both the green and deservedly popular variety “Invicta” and the red dessert variety “Pax” which pleasingly has a lot less spines that other varieties. Gooseberries almost always crop heavily every year under most circumstances and I rarely do anything to them by way of pruning or special treatment. Food for very little effort in its simplest form. The good news is the bushes last for many years too.

My sweet potatoes “Beauregard” are growing well in large pots in the greenhouse. Here in Yorkshire the extra warmth of the greenhouse is crucial. I will keep them under cover like this until cropping time at the end of summer. Sweet potatoes like plenty of moisture and also regular feeding with liquid tomato liquid food.

Courgettes are doing well and respond to plenty of water and should be ready to harvest soon. Once they start cropping, regular picking is essential as the young courgettes can be ready in a matter of days, given plenty of warmth and moisture.

Almost inevitably my main garlic crop has succumbed to rust-the familiar orange dots appearing on the foliage as it begins to turn yellow. This happens almost every year when the weather turns humid. The good news is that autumn grown garlic has usually almost completed it’s life cycle by July and the harvest shouldn’t be greatly affected.

Over the next week or two the priority jobs are to hoe regularly and spot water thirsty plants such as runner beans, leeks and courgettes where needed. The ground is pretty dry here at the moment, though thunderstorms are predicted later in the week. Do keep an eye on the weather forecast-it may just save some valuable time watering needlessly.

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Lee Senior

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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