So, it has been a long time since I have blogged on my allotment. A few days after my last post Theresa May called a General Election and I’ve been busy ever since covering that, with any spare time trying to keep Plot 35a ticking over.
Allotments and busy lives are not a great combination, and as I wrote earlier this year it is good to set aside a few hours a week just to keep on top of planting and weeding so it doesn’t go out of control completely. My allotment is just about managing, as the Prime Minister might say.
This week I wrote about Jeremy Corbyn’s allotment for The Guardian, and, despite the amount of time he must spend campaigning and running to be Prime Minister, his plot is in pretty good shape. You can read the piece here. Thanks to that piece, I’m delighted to have a few new followers – you are all very welcome.
Last time I blogged I wrote about pricking out the dozens of brassica seedlings I’d sown in modules. I ended up donating about 80 plants to our allotment stall at the Nunhead Cemetery Open Day in May, which despite the bad weather did pretty well. The rest of these plants, including some tenderstem broccoli pictured below, I got in the ground as soon as possible to give them enough time to grow sturdy, productive plants, using enviromesh to keep off the cabbage white butterflies and pigeons.
Back in March, I wrote about sowing peas and this week I’ve harvested the first of this crop – some sugar snaps, and two varieties of mange tout, ‘Golden Sweet’ and the purple ‘Shiraz’.
They were planted out in a bed in April and heavy rain followed by hot sun has resulted in tall, healthy vines. A huge improvement on last year. The result was crunchy, sweet pods eaten fresh – no need for cooking when they have travelled a few hundred yards from my plot to my kitchen.
The heavy frost in the middle of May – even in London – killed off a few of my tomatoes I’d sown back in March. But a few of them have survived, and in late May I planted them out into 10 litre pots – the minimum size pot you should use to grow decent tomatoes – and are lining the paths of my plot. I went down there on Monday evening and a few of them had flopped in the strong wind and rain. Once they’re about 30cm high they need tying to canes anyway, so I went round giving my plants support. The best way to tie any plant to a cane is by making a figure of eight with a piece of string – first looping the string backwards around the stem, bringing the ends back round and tying the knot around the cane. This allows for the stem to grow wider, and means the cane takes all the pressure.
Even though it was a rainy, cold evening in June, it was great to get away from the election, just for half an hour.