Allotment Diary (August – Week 4)
After a couple of weeks of cloudy, windy and drizzly weather, we’ve had a week of extremely sunny/mild weather and it’s been used to good effect on the allotment. I’ve had nothing to sow this week, but I’ve been busy clearing beds and planting.
Unfortunately the nights have also been cold, well below 10c and that’s too cold for beans and tomatoes/peppers to thrive. The beans especially have stalled now, but the rest are still ripening, albeit at a slower rate. We can’t really complain though as our harvests are still excellent, albeit a little smaller than previous years.
I love this time of year. It can be hard to fit gardening into my other summer hobbies and other activities, so it can feel quite busy but everything starts to calm down in autumn. The next six weeks keep me occupied though as I ‘frantically’ clear and re-plant, although this will be our most relaxed autumn. I’ve consciously grown less in summer than previous years and focused on levelling out harvest volumes in each season. I see no point in having a huge glut in summer.
I know a lot of gardeners don’t agree with me, preferring to spend the lovely days in summer and early autumn preserving and freezing fruit and veg, but I want to spend my time outside. We do still preserve some food, but try to focus on processing that improved or preserves the foods health, rather than degrades it. 95% of our food – year round – will be freshly picked, or preserved in it’s natural form (onions, potatoes, beetroot, garlic …). This approach does mean that most of the fruit we will eat out of season will be purchased, rather than preserved, but I’m comfortable with that compromise.
Back to planting. I’ve cleared the dwarf beans, a third of our our early beetroot, the last of our onions and the golden purslane. In their place have gone winter brassicas, turnips, radish, lettuce, tatsoi and pac choi and soon spinach.
The week’s not all been about gardening though. I went on a lovely cycle ride up the coast and picnicked with my feet in the sea and enjoyed a lovely beach walk.
I did a long hike with a good friend of mine, who is also retired, but lives a very different life to me. The contrast challenges us both to constantly re-appraise the way we live. We are constantly picking up ideas from each other.
I also book my eldest grandchild to an adventure playground for the day and we spent as much time on a nature walk along the river bank.
We also bought a new car, my first new car in a very long time. We opted for a Dacia Stepway, which has the ‘distinction’ of being the cheapest range of cars in the UK. This low price is achieved by stripping away all of the gimmicks, gadgets and sensors that most cars are stuffed with, leaving a flexible, practical, reliable, familiar car. One great example is that this model doesn’t have a fancy infotainment system, it just integrates with and uses our phones instead, which is what I use in my existing car anway and much prefer. To be clear we can afford a much more expensive car, but we sought our a simple one.
Finally I spent a very enjoyable afternoon clearing out our storage shed. For the first time since we started gardening we now have enough space to store our entire storage harvest in a frost free (hopefully) space, to which I added extra ventilation fans this year.
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: (that’s right: nothing)
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: