Allotment Diary (August – Week 2)

It’s been an unusual week for me, dominated by the decision to have one of our lovely cats put down. We knew he didn’t have long, as he was in end stage kidney failure and the vet had given him between 2 and 8 weeks to live. That grim verdict was issued 8 weeks ago and for most of that time he continued to live well, but we watched him keenly for signs and we saw those signs on Tuesday, so on Wednesday I booked him in and on Thursday he was gone.

The garden will – mostly – miss him!

It was traumatic taking him in and staying with him until the end, but he lived a great life and we and the garden, will miss him a lot. Fortunately I know that the pain fades quickly and I’m now almost back to normal, although I have a few waves of grief wash over me each day, but they too quickly dissipate. Debbie and I have had and lost a lot of cats over the years, we now just have the one, Sid’s sister, Mulan.

Mulan, not so useful in the garden!

The rest of the week has been productive. Debbie and I have both been working on our respective allotments. Debbie worked on weeding and I worked on planting. I’ve stuck to my plan of clearing and planting at least one bed a week for the next eight weeks. This week I cut back the strawberries and potted on about 20 runners, destined for hanging baskets. I also planted a big bed of lettuces, to bridge the gap between the outdoor plants we are harvesting now and the polytunnel harvest, which will start in November.

Clearing the first strawberry bed

Back home I planted a bed of spinach, another bridging crop, and Debbie planted more lettuce and a couple of hundred bunching onions. We eat about 1000 of them over winter and early spring, so we need to get a lot sown in August!

Lovely harvests of tomatoes, especially from the grafted plants

I’ve also been frantically sowing seeds over the last couple of weeks and I’m close to finished for the month. Sowing gets busy again in early September.

Summer abundance

Harvesting has been interesting again this week. We continue to have an abundance of most of the best of summer, but I continue to have only a modest harvest of lettuce and almost no spinach. In a few weeks we will be awash with these again, but I’m gardening differently this year. I’m trying much harder for an consistent year round harvest each week, rather than a boom and bust approach. This means tough decisions in summer. Not that I intentionally grow less, rather that I don’t have much contingency and if we are less resilient to failures and this year we have had a few.

Summer abundance

Finally on the harvest front I assessed our potato harvest this week and I’m now fairly confident that we can harvest one tub per week until May. This means that we don’t need particularly early potatoes next year, so we can focus a bit more on size and quality.

Salads, a bit short of lettuce, but plenty of tomatoes and cucumbers

We’ve also harvested all of our onions and shallots and we have more than last year, which is quite a feat given that we have 200m2 less land, the power of interplanting! We should have enough for ourselves and family until next year’s harvest, about 800 bulbs.

Brockholes riverside walk

This week we only managed one day out and we decided to go to Brockholes, a local nature reserve, with spectacular riverside walks, woodland and lakes.

I regularly make myself batches of granola, using a recipe that I’ve refined over close to a decade. This time though I made a video of making it and wrote up the details in the recipe section of my book. My first recipe video!

Debbie’s been busy preserving but’s she’s overwhelmed by tomatoes. Fortunately, Dave, who has the Happy Acres blog, posted his technique for making a quick tomato base, so we used this rather than make passata in the traditional laborious way. Debbie gave it a taste test last night and she’s happy with it.

I’ve a new way of tracking my first harvest dates now. The beauty of this new system is that it’s fully integrated with my sowing records, so I automatically get ‘sowing to harvest’ and ‘planting to harvest’ data. New firsts are at the top.

Here’s what I sowed this week:

Here’s what we planted this week.

Harvests are actually a bit low right now as we race to clear beds for autumn, winter and spring crops, but we have plenty for ourselves and the family. Our friends won’t go hungry though as they do have some excellent supermarkets to fall back on.

Here’s our harvests for the year so far, with the most recent at the top.  We hit our target for last year and harvested over £12,000. We will never harvest as much again as we have less land now, our objective has changed now.

Here’s a list of the preserves for the year. Debbie is now busy making lots of preserves.

YouTube videos for the week 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

8 Responses

  1. Cherie says:

    Sorry to hear about your cat Steve and family. They become family members don’t they. Just noticed your harvesting date on 7th August. It was hammering down with rain on the 7th and we were looking for something to do. We could have popped along to your allotment and said hello. Would have suggested it when we booked a few days over there but would hate you to think I was some kind of weird stalker.

  2. You should have, although we actually harvested the day before, I did invite you to pop around but you must have missed it

  3. Kathy says:

    Sorry to hear of the loss of your beloved cat Steve. They do nestle into your heart don’t they? Your harvests all look so beautiful and bright, and inspire me to try harder with mine!! And thank you for the mint syrup recipe… why have I never thought of this, especially this year when I have added peppermint to the herb selection?

  4. We know the sadness of losing a beloved pet, having lost our Lucy a few months ago. She was my garden companion. I’m going to try Dave’s method with my tomatoes and I like your idea of letting the blended tomatoes stay in the fridge to scoop off some of the moisture. I don’t like to cook it a long time.

  5. We have some in the fridge separating now, Debbie’s going to use the ‘water’ as stock

  6. The mint syrup is very popular

  7. I’m sorry to hear about your cat. It’s always sad to lose a family pet, even if it’s not entirely unexpected. I’m glad you all could take my tip for speeding up the tomato sauce making process. I get a lot of great tips from my fellow garden bloggers, like the idea of using a dehydrator to thicken tomato paste. I like your idea of letting some of the liquid separate out from the tomato juice, though our frig is usually too full this time of year for anything else!

  8. We have too fridges fortunately

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