Allotment Diary (August 2020 – Week 3)

I normally like a balance in my week, a leisurely mix of reading, hiking, cycling, walking and gardening as well as a few projects that can take many forms.  This week though I decided to focus exclusively on the allotments: a full 23 hours of focus and it was great.

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The reason for the ‘big push’ is that we are now busy preparing for autumn and winter and that means a lot of beds need to be cleared, reconditioned and re-planted.  A lot of compost needs to be made and a lot of seedlings sown and pricked out and of course a huge amount of harvesting and preserving.

We are also approaching holiday season, so I need to be ahead in the garden, so that I can relax knowing that we can take a couple of weeks off and not be too far behind.

We’ve also enjoyed the most magnificent lightning storms, one kept me up way past bed-time, it was just to impressive to ignore!  The added bonus is no watering for most of the beds too!

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Here’s my completed sowing log for August, most of it is done now, but a lot more to do in September.  Growing under lights is changing all of my timings, pushing many of them back by two weeks and making them much more consistent and stress free.

I’ve also been very busy planting, most of it for autumn at this stage.  We have done a much better job of spinach this year.  Last year we relied exclusively on New Zealand spinach.  This year we’ve also had Perpetual Spinach (like a green chard) and Mikado spinach, an oriental variety that is very slow to bolt,  Debbie declared it her all time favourite, which is brilliant.

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We also have late season true spinach establishing well and that will be ready for harvest next week.

Harvesting is always a delight in August, this year we doubled down on tomatoes, peppers and winter squash, hoping to really beef up our winter store so that we never have to think “can we afford to eat this” in winter in fear of a shortage later in the year.

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To a lesser extent we have done the same with onions, shallots too.  We’ve been harvesting tomatoes/peppers every two days.

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We’ve tried with carrots, but failed to a degree.  I made the mistake of following the advice of a celebrity gardener who covers his carrots after thinning.  Unfortunately carrot fly decided to take residence in my beds before thinning, so the harvest has been very patchy.  I will know better for next year!  I’ve done emergency sowings of a few hundred extra carrots though, so fingers crossed!

Debbie has been busy preserving and her focus is now switching to passata and ketchups.  We will soon be dehydrating the apples and pears too.  The berry harvest is almost over now and so my daily fruit salads will soon be replaced by green smoothies again.

Finally I’ve been busy with project work this week.  I’ve been adding an extra tier to most of my cold-frames and low tunnels.  This gives tall plants more space to grow in summer – like the peppers – but it also provides more shelter from the wind and more air-volume in winter, reducing damp and increasing night time temperatures a little.  It also stops leaves toughing the poly and freezing.  I already have 4 deep beds and they all perform much better than the ones I’ve upgraded this week, so I’m excited by the possibilities.

I’ve been yearning for a second polytunnel, but these low tunnels are so much cheaper and more flexible that I’ve become comfortable with the ‘compromise’.  Allotment harvest value is so far in excess of last year that it’s easily funding these little projects with a lot of room to spare.

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Youtube videos for the month can be found here:

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

4 Responses

  1. The second tier on the cold frames makes sense. I’m using the widest boards I can get, but some of the taller greens still get too tall for them. Still too soon to sow fall lettuce or spinach here, but it won’t be much longer.

  2. Fall lettuce and spinach are fine in early Auggust, but winter lettuce are best in early September, with a second batch in October which are better for eating in spring. Hwever now I have my grow lights I can start them in January for harvest in March, which would probably be even better

  3. As my summer crops are winding down quickly I wish I could begin planting the cool season veggies. Unfortunately, September is often our hottest month. Last year I began planting in late September and continued through the month of October. The longer days and warmer soil temps really helped the crops. October can have hot days too if Santa Ana winds come up. Interesting to see all the seed varieties you planted. Many I’ve never seen but could be just me. I also like Rogue de Hiver. Romaines are tough.

  4. It does confuse me why different countries have different seeds Sue, when our climates often match up perfectly, albeit at slightly different times of year : All the best – Steve

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