Allotment Diary (July 2020 – Week 3)

Overview of the week

It’s been another wet and cloudy week with hardly a break in the clouds.  I’m pleased I have the grow lights which are allowing me to grow almost perfect plug plants.  I’ve been particularly impressed by the thick stems and strong roots on the seedlings, as well as the more obvious excellent leaf growth, it makes planting a real pleasure!  I continue to experiment with late season fruits, this week it was the turn of the tomatoes, which will grow in the conservatory, with additional light.

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I particularly like precision nature of growing plants under lights, I know exactly how long it will take, so I need to grow fewer spares and never have an bed empty.  I only need to predict 3 weeks in advance that a bed will be opening up and sow the seeds.  I think on average I will have empty beds for a week less per succession, so on average that’s 2 weeks extra growing a year, that’s roughly £12,000*2/52 of extra harvest value ~ £400/year. This probably covers the purchase and running costs over a period of 2-3 years.  I didn’t purchase mine, but it’s interesting to see the potantial payback.  However that’s not why I’m growing under lights, it’s the pure joy of growing quality plants with precisoin and confidence!

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No hikes/bikes this week, but plenty of morning and evening walks!

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In other news my favourite cafes have opened up again, so life is almost back to normal and I feel my life is much more in balance.  When I have plenty of sunshine, relaxation, intellectual stimulation, exercise, social time and growing time my life is hard to beat!

Allotment Finances

Our harvest total for this year is £6,095 + £300 worth of preserves = £6,395 way ahead of target, although truth be told we don’t have targets anymore because we are trying to grow less this year – it’s not going well.

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What we’ve harvested and eaten

We harvested £227 of veg this week and made £12 worth of preserves, which is £239 this week in total, a small dip on last week, mainly due to a big reduction in preserves, although we have a bit of a backlog, we also have loads of early shallots and early onions to process and add to the totals.

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We picked:  Cucamelons, brussels sprouts, full sized cucumbers, mini cucumbers, cherries, tomatoes, raspberries, gooseberries, blueberries, strawberries, red currants, black currants, tayberries, second early potatoes, baking potatoes, sweet and hot peppers, chard, perpetual spinach, shelling peas, New Zealand spinach, golden purselane, new season carrots, French beans, runner beansfresh onions, spring onions, shallots, mangetout peas, Center Cut squash, courgettes, red beetroot, golden beetroot, calabrese, sprout leaves, lots of types of kale, mixed herbs and a lot of lettuce. We also raided the store for: garlic, winter squash, dried apples and pears. Bold items are new this week.

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What we’ve bought this week

I bought ten fence posts for my new vertical gardening experiment next year.  I was gifted another grow light that completes my growlight setup (well almost).  I also received a replacement thermostatically controlled plug, although I managed to fix the original one with a bit of DIY repair.

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My youtube channel also funded a nice new laptop and smart watch, which is a nice spin off benefit.  The new laptop is much faster, has a bigger/higher resolution screen and much more storage.  This extra storage will allow me to change the way I produce videos, which is something I’ve been looking forward to for about a year now.

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Videos this week

How to grow Brussels sprouts for a summer harvest

Planting side shoots for a late tomato harvest

What I’ve sown

It’s been a big sowing week and I’ve been trialing now new technique, which involves alot more pricking out than I’ve been used to, but also increases the precision and reduces the space it need.  The space reduction allows me to grow everything under lights.

Cabbage April
French Bean Cobra
Winter onion TOUGHBALL F1
Kale Nero black magic
Kale Vates Blue Curled
Cabbage Durham Early
Kale Dwarf Green Curly Kale
Asian Greens Tatsoi
Cabbage Duncan
Lettuce Flashy Trout
Radicchio Rossa Di Trevio
Chard Rhubarb chard
Lettuce Black seeded simpson
Lettuce Erba Stella (Minutina)


What We’ve planted


What I’ve potted on


What we’ve run out of in store

  1. Fresh apples, week 11
  2. New potatoes (we have fresh now)
  3. Main crop potatoes (we have fresh now)
  4. Carrots, the last few have gone to seed (we have fresh now)
  5. Onions (we have fresh now)
  6. Garlic (we have fresh now)
  7. Golden beetroot (we have fresh now)
  8. Beetroot – July Week 2 (we have fresh now)
  9. Crown Prince squash – July week 3

Last harvests

  1. Oca – we now only have tubers for planting next year, week 1
  2. Artichokes – we now only have tubers for planting next year, week 7
  3. We harvested the last of the beetroot that we left in the ground, week 4
  4. Romanesco cauliflower, week 10
  5. Sprouts, week 12
  6. Cauliflower (planted 2019), week 12
  7. Carrots from the ground, Week 14
  8. New potatoes from 2019, Week 16
  9. Winter cabbages, week 16
  10. Last year’s kale. week 18
  11. Spinach Matador and Red Kitten, week 22
  12. October sown carrots, June – Week 3
  13. Garlic for store, June – Week 3
  14. Broad beans, June – Week 4
  15. Rhubarb, July – Week 1
  16. Cherries, July – Week 2
  17. Shelling peas, July – Week 2

What’s left in store

The store is is still on good shape:

  1. Onions/shallots – a few hundred bulbs (new this year)
  2. Garlic – a few hundred bulbs (new this year)
  3. Dried pears – l large cool bag
  4. Dried apples – 1 large cool bag
  5. Potatoes – 1 large box (new this year)
  6. Beetroot – 1 box (new this year)

Loads of stuff in the freezer too and dozens of preserves.

Water Reserves and Rainfall

The taps have now been switched on, so I won’t be monitoring our reserves as they will be fully depleted by the end of the month.

What we’ve processed for preserving

Debbie is now doing a lot pf preserving again, mainly herbs and jams, but also cordials!

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  • The green sprouting broccoli are lovely, we still have calabrese heads and the calabrese side shoots are now ready, in a week we will have the next succession of calabrese
  • The fruit harvest is really booming and we are eating a lot of it fresh

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  • I’m eating such wonderful food at the moment, just a little of a lot, typically at least 15-20 home grown fruits and veggies every day and 30-40+ every week
  • I have moved one of the grow lights from the conservatory to the garage, making a double shelf unit there, that made way for the new – bigger – light in the conservatory
  • The new light in the conservatory allowed me to bring the late season tomatoes home

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  1. The continual wet weather has not been good for the golden purselane crop, which likes it dry and sunny,   next year I’m going to grow it in a cold-frame with the lid available to protect it – even in summer
  2. The Red Drumhead cabbages almost all got a bad infestation on cabbage aphid and we lost the lot as well as a few Brussels Sprouts, we have alternative red cabbages though and plenty more sprouts.
  3. The early carrots have some downy mildew on the leaves, they are still alive – just – and big enough to be useful, but I hope it doesn’t spread to the main and late crops!!

Steve Richards

I'm retired from work as a business and IT strategist. now I'm travelling, hiking, cycling, swimming, reading, gardening, learning, writing this blog and generally enjoying good times with friends and family

3 Responses

  1. Oh such amazing harvests. You’re very efficient. I’d be spending every waking hour managing all this. Your photos are lovely. My favorites are the beets and cukes with broccoli. Hope the sun reappears soon.

  2. Every year we do about 10% less work to grow about 15% more food, after 5 years if adds up. Sun’s out today Sue, I’ve been out cycling. Need to spend an hour on the plot tonight though : all the best – Steve

  3. I’m like you and enjoy the more precise growing environment indoors under lights. I’ve mostly confined my experiments to greens and herbs so far, with good results for both. It also lets me grow cool season crops in summer when our weather is just too hot to grow them outdoors. I generally have less insect problems under lights, though I have to keep a close watch because the bugs like the conditions there as well as the plants!

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