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.

First lettuces on the allotment since spring

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.

The green end of the harvest table

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.

The colourful end of the harvest table

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.

This week’s salad harvest, starting to increase

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.

A few of the seedlings ready for planting

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.

One of the best spots for a scenic beach walk, a short bike ride from home

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.

Hiking weather

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.

Nature walk after the adventure playground

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.

Arriving November, the simplest car in the UK

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.

After tidying up, the racks and bench at the end will all be full of stored produce soon

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)

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

7 Responses

  1. Different climates surely can make for different strategies! It’s too hot here to enjoy much of our summer except in early morning. So I am quite happy staying inside in the a/c doing the preserving. Come fall, I will be happy to spend more time outside when milder temps return.

  2. Cherie says:

    That’s one smart looking car Steve. It certainly doesn’t look cheap. I’ve never understood the need for spending an absolute fortune on a flash car but each to their own. I didn’t realise just how pretty the scenery is over that way until we visited. We might stay over that way in November if we aren’t on lockdown.

  3. Quite cool here now, especially at night, we were at 7c a couple of days ago

  4. On the test drive it was hard to believe that it’s the cheapest new car in the UK

  5. Sue says:

    Hi Steve. I’ve noticed on your pics and videos that you re-use supermarket jars for preserving / pickling. I would like to do this to save money but keep reading that I should buy Kilner or Mason jars. Have you had any issues with re-using supermarkets jars and do you use anything else to seal the jar under the lid? I’m guessing that I would just need to sterilise them before use. Any advice you can give would be great! Thanks for your time.

  6. We often reuse old jars and they work fine, just as well as new ones. The odd one fails and we just put those in the fridge for use immediately. The lids are sterilised in boiling water, the jars in the oven. You do need to check for damage to the sealant on the lids. We also use hot vinegar which creates a vacuum when cooling. We prefer to use lids that have the central dome that indicates a good seal : all the best – Steve

  7. Sue says:

    Thanks for your advice! Never thought of using hot vinegar. Will have to try that.

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