The last few months for me have been extremely busy with work, travelling around the country visiting universities and other duties at the allotment. Just when I thought I might get a respite, we’ve moved into the start of the hardcore harvesting season where if you turn your back for too long you’ll be eating marrow, instead of courgette. It’s the same for everyone on the allotment at the moment and place is alive with people cursing fact that they can’t pick the fruit any quicker, when you see the price of a punnet of black currants in the shops, it makes you realise how worthwhile growing your own really is. One thing that we, as a family, love, partly because of the flavour and partly due to their ease is runner beans. If I had the time to pick an entire plot of them I would, but once they get going it’s hard to keep up with just a dozen plants. Even if you haven’t got a place of your own to grow fruit though, there are is a wealth to be had for free in the wild, this evening I picked a kilo of blackberries that has been stewed with a little sugar and will be frozen until I need it for something. But as well as that there are apple, pear, plum, greengage and many other fruit trees lining places like the railway path, if they don’t get harvested, they’ll only go to waste. Not to mention Incredible Edible Bristol (http://ediblebristol.org.uk/) who are actively bringing freshly grown produce to public spaces for anyone to enjoy, like picking some broad beans on your way out of Temple Meads station to eat when you get home.
Unfortunately this has meant that my own garden at home has been a little neglected and as things have started to go over I’ve struggled to keep up with them. It’s a nightly job now going round the beds deadheading and pulling weeds, watering and repotting. The latter of those has taken over the garden table somewhat and is at risk of taking over completely unless I pull my socks up and set to it. Deadheading the spent flowers promotes the plants to continue flowering as the energy is diverted away from creating seeds and so extends the season. Sweet peas are a perfect example where you should pick even sooner so you can enjoy them in a display. If you strip the plant of flowers you’ll be blessed with a fresh bounty that you can repeat the process with for months.
The summer so far as well as the spring that preceded it has been incredibly dry, we’ve had some beautiful warm days that have been an absolutely delight, but even where the clouds have dominated there has been little in the way of rainfall. This has taken it’s toll on the allotment and garden alike with a few casualties, thankfully nothing too major. We have a very shaded bed that up until now has been dominated by an unruly Symphoricarpos (snowberry), that after a short battle has now been gladly consigned to the compost heap, and the bed needed populating. I had a few ferns and some Digitalis but that makes for a fairly plain display, and I was after a more dramatic look, so we visited a rare plant fair at Hanham court, somewhere that you should take a visit to when they have the garden open. Among other things I acquired an Acatea that unfortunately due to the shaded situation I neglected to water it as much as I should, that combined with the dry weather and it being in a raised bed meant that it had a close call on one occasion. If you have good drainage as many plants require you need to be especially vigilant with your watering regime at this time of year.
Like often when I write these things though the weather has come to mock me as we’ve just experienced the most torrential rain and thunderstorms. It does mean that the watering will take less time and will allow you to get on with some of these Summer jobs.