The second in my allotment update series is covering August, and what a busy month that was!
- We finished the greenhouse! Felt like it took an age to get the frame up and then washing the glass took another hundred years but it’s up and it’s not really had much in it yet apart from the tomato plants. I’m looking forward to getting my seeds started for next spring’s planting at the allotment!
- The combination of the warm weather and the regular rain made for a weed paradise so a lot of the month was spent keeping on top of those little horrors. Whoever invents a permanent cure for the evil that is weeds will make themselves millions!
- Aaaall the courgettes arrived! The plants just grew and grew and the courgettes just kept growing and growing (and pushing over onto the leeks so they required trimming back!) – we could hardly manage to eat everything that grew and I was giving them away by the bag full, my colleagues were pretty happy! Lesson learnt for next year: less courgette plants. Although we did enjoy having them and I had a recipe recommended to me by a friend whilst we were in Scotland which has become my new favourite recipe. We made a lot of other new recipes too and discovered we love courgette fritters too. I’ll do a post on courgette recipes soon. The end of August also saw the plants winding down. They started to get a bit of mildew because I didn’t plant them far enough apart and the wet weather didn’t help it. But that obviously suited someone as I had a frog living in there too! I pulled a couple of the plants out before the end of the month (about the 18th) because they were driving me insane and had stopped producing. One of my allotment neighbours suggested some succesion planting next year so I can keep them going a bit longer into the October which I might try.
- There were a lot of mozzies down there in the evenings. At the start of August I was down there until later in the evenings and discovered that as it gets dusky the little buggers come out and bite bite bite until you are covered. The least pleasant thing about August at the allotment by far.
- We developed a routine at the start of the month to come home, have dinner and then walk the long way round to the allotment with Sophie to water the flowers. As it got to the end of the month it tailed off because we went away over the bank holiday weekend and when we came back it was cooler and darker in the evenings so it was more of a rush to get it done in daylight and before the mozzies came even earlier!
- The dahlias really started to come into their own. Blanc y Verde and Henriette were popping all over the place by the end of July and I’d had a couple of others but in August, everything else started to arrive. Cafe au Lait, my absolute favourite, started creeping out (first flower on 9th August and she was a beaut) and so did Belle of the Ball, Labyrinth, Penhill Watermelon (just snuck in at the end of the month) and Karma Maarten Zwaan. (And although it’s not at the allotment, it’s at home, my bargain Lucca Johanna plant, has also started). The bushes got bigger and Linda’s Baby turned out to be a surprise star – I mean, I knew I’d love her but she has just delivered flower after flower after flower. Definitely the most productive plant of them all.
Wizard of Oz also showed her face by the last week of the month but unfortunately looked more like Linda’s Baby so I fear I got a rogue tuber. Speaking of rogue tubers, when I got one of the Cafe tubers from Sarah Raven there was a little mini tuber in the bottom of the bag that had sprouted. I assumed it had fallen off the cafe so I potted it up to see if anything would happen and I got a plant! I thought it would be a Cafe but it turned out to be something completely different with dark leaves and a flower that looks like Bishop of Canterbury which is more of a garden dahlia so I will grow it at home next year.
The mystery dahlia from last year that I didn’t label turned out to be a Cafe instead of Jowey Winnie like I was hoping so that means Jowey Winnie did not make it through the winter thanks to my poor overwinter storing. Must find a better spot for them this winter.
I discovered my bamboo canes and string frames kept the dahlias pretty secure in the winds and we only had a couple of stems snap which I thought was a miracle based on how bad the winds were at one point early on in the month.
By the end of the month I was still waiting on Belle of Barmera, Lilac Perfection, Platinum Blonde, Small World and the Penhill Watermelon I propagated off the initial tuber.
- The raspberries. Turns out they are autumn raspberries and although I thought they’d begun to finish at the start of the month by the end they were churning out a decent bowlful every day which we were all happy about including Sophie! I also discovered what wind can do to raspberry canes. Those insane winds in the second week off the month meant I had to call my dad to come and help me one evening when Tom was working late to help me tie them up again as they were flying all over the place. Thankfully the canes seem quite bendy and none snapped in the wind but we both got pretty scratched up doing it! Raspberry canes are thorny in case you didn’t know.
- I love cosmos, but the bees love them more. They do take up a lot of space though and they are pretty wild so I’m not sure if they are going to feature in next year’s plans but I may plant a few along the sides because of the pollination they help provide too – they brought all the bees to my plot!
- Sophie our dog came to the allotment with me quite a lot. Every day that I worked from home I spent my lunch break down there and took her with me. Also when Tom came down to help me with some of the tough bits she came with then too. We have a post that we tie her to and she lays on the grass and watches. She also gets a lot of fussing from everyone who comes in as my lot is right next to the entrance. She’s become a proper allotment dog now.
- Beetroot – I grew a lot of them and made cake a few times (beetroot brownies are lush), I don’t think I really got the benefit of them as I struggled to find them as versatile as the courgettes so I’m not sure how many I’lll include in the plot next year. As it stands I’ve still got a few VERY large ones in the ground that I imagine will be quite woody so I need to work out if I can pickle them or do something else? We did eat a lot of their leaves in salad though so maybe that’s what I need to grow next year?
- French beans – these started coming at the start of the month but really started producing towards the end. These have been a surprise hit as they aren’t something I’d usually buy regularly from the supermarket because I think they’re too expensive and we’ve loved making one of our favourite dishes, a Turkish bean salad which is usually made from runner beans but has been just as good with these. The seedlings were given to me from a neighbour but I think I’ll give them a go myself next year.
- Sharing is caring – the allotment has a real community feel and it’s been so lovely getting to know my fellow allotmenteers, and being shown round their plots. I’ve learnt loads from them and enjoyed sharing produce with them. A particular favourite was the Mauritian cucumbers which hopefully I’ll be getting a couple of plants of to grown in the greenhouse next year.
- Holidaying in August is not the best idea when you have an allotment. I came back to SO many flowers I had no idea what to do with them – the house was rammed and I ran out of vases so resorted to beakers and cramming them into existing vases but the house did look beautiful. Dahlias don’t smell though so I’m going to have a think what I can grow to add some smells to the vases and also some filler foliage/flowers as I ended up foraging for these because I had nothing available. All the dahlias did make for some great photos though!
- And although not at the allotment, I grew tomatoes and zinnias at home which went pretty well. I think I’m going to do zinnias down at the allotment next year and I’m not sure I can be bothered with the tomatoes at all. The plants are huge and they take over a huge space. I might just grow the seedlings again for my dad then steal his! I’m definitely not growing them in a hanging basket again as they just looked rubbish – I’ll stick to flowers in the baskets next year!
- And finally, I started making some lists for what I’d like to grown next year and also thought about how I’d like to lay things out. More on that next month or maybe it even needs it’s own post…
Hope you enjoyed August’s rambling notes! Let me know if there are any areas you’d like me to expand on by commenting below or messaging me on Instagram @justnicolelaird.