The Plot Thickens…

I have been meaning to write an update on the allotment for a little while now. While reading the previous chapter, I am wondering how on earth I am going to adequately convey everything that has happened at the plot. It has changed almost beyond recognition, mostly due to the unseasonably warm and sunny weather we have had recently.

So, I shall just plunge in…

The plot – 7th June 2020

We now have produce in every single raised bed. We are literally squeezing in plants where we can and we still have more at home ‘hardening off’ to take to the plot. Who knows where they will end up?! However, I have found this to be half the fun. We are taking up a tray of seedlings that were destined for a particular bed and when we arrive at the plot, we end up putting them somewhere else entirely, trying to use up every inch of available soil.

A selection of Swiss chard, beetroot and lettuce

As well as beds full of edible produce, we also have a few beds that are devoted to flowers, both for pollinators and for cut flowers at The Watch House. As much as I enjoy growing fresh fruit and veg, I am particularly excited about the flowers, simply for the mass of colour that we are going to enjoy. There is nothing more pleasing at the allotment, or in the garden, than a mass of colourful blooms nodding in the breeze, smothered in bees and butterflies. We have calendula, salvia, gladioli – G. ‘Shaka Zulu’, ‘Flevo Laguna’, ‘Bimbo’, ‘Sancerre’ and ‘Blackjack’, totalling around 150 plants -, cleome, helichrysum, Iceland poppies (Papaver nudicaule), cosmos, chrysanthemums, antirrhinums, cerinthe, datura, eschscholzia, Verbena bonariensis, zinnias and sunflowers: H. ‘Russian Giant’, ‘Double Dandy’, ‘Claret’ and ‘Magic Roundabout’ to name but a few.

Calendula ‘Sunset Buff’

It goes without saying that we are growing dahlias. As you can probably guess, we have dedicated a bed or four just to them. In fact, we are growing over forty different varieties on the allotment, and there will be a good number at home in both gardens too (we do love dahlias!). The majority of tuber-grown plants are already in the ground, however we recently received our order of rooted cuttings from The National Dahlia Collection in Cornwall and we are just waiting for them to harden off before planting out – hopefully this will happen at the weekend.

Another bed that excites me is the sweetcorn bed. In it we have three different varieties, ‘Double Red’, ‘Mexican Giant White’ and a standard yellow variety called ‘Incredible F1’. I am very excited about the ‘Mexican Giant White’. If they perform as they should, they will be around 12-15 ft high and their cobs will be around 2 ft long. Now that’s a mouthful!

I have underplanted the sweetcorn with ‘Turks Turban’ squash. They will happily spread themselves under the stems and hopefully give us a decent crop. I’ve also thrown in a couple of ‘Hunter F1’ butternut squash as a little experiment just to see how they perform under the corn. Time will tell and you will, of course, hear all about it.

Children of the corn

Our biggest bed is what I refer to as the ‘tomato bed’. There are four varieties – ‘Golden Crown’, ‘San Marzano Plum’, ‘Black Opal’ and ‘Tigerella’. In total we have around 40 plants and, if they all crop well, we will have copious chutneys, sauces and salads. With the tomatoes we have planted two varieties of Cucumber to grow up the Maypoles – ‘Crystal Lemon’ and ‘Burpless Tasty Green’. In between are some climbing beans ‘Selma Zebra’, which produce unusual marbled pods.

The tomato bed ‘Maypoles’

TFG has taken it upon himself to grow enough lettuce to feed an army. Because of this, we have a number of different varieties on the plot. A couple of my favourites are ‘Forellenschluss’ and ‘Mascara’. Both have unusual, colourful leaves. We are also growing a number of oriental salad leaves. We have struggled with these as it would appear that flea beetles – aka ‘Destroyers of Crops’ – find them particularly tasty and have ravaged our youngsters. TFG bought some diatomaceous earth which appears to have seen them off, for now.

Another exciting plant is our tromboncino squash. I am very excited to see these beauties grow and develop. Tromboncino is often called a climbing courgette, although it is in fact an heirloom cultivar of the butternut squash from Liguria, Italy. They have a vining habit and can be grown up a trellis or arch, to give an exotic yet edible display. These are in the same bed as courgettes (‘Sunstripe’ and ‘Atena Polka’), Physalis ‘Goldvital’ (Cape gooseberries) and yet another crop that TFG seems to want to feed to the nation, parsley, both curly and flat-leaved types.

We are currently eating our way through the strawberry bed, treating ourselves with sweet, juicy mouthfuls on each visit to the plot. But we are not the only ones enjoying them; so is one of our dogs, Mildred. Her Ladyship has developed quite the taste for strawberries and has learnt very quickly that if she sticks her head in the bed and has a good rummage she will soon find herself a sweet snack!

Millie-Moo and her sweet tooth

Max, on the other hand, isn’t motivated by any food crop we offer him, much preferring the fun and frolics of his ball or rubber ‘piggy’. If it’s hot and sunny, he’ll be found flopping under the sage and having a good snooze in the sunshine.

His Lordship, Maximillian Sydney Bruiser, snoozing under the sage

There is so much more I could share with you: I haven’t mentioned our potatoes, brassicas, salad crops or beans. But I shall save that for the next chapter when I will also be able to share one or two pictures of our allotment blooms.

Happy Gardening One and All.

The Beau.

P.S. The Frustrated Gardener apologises for his recent absence and will be back with a new post very soon.

One Man and his allotment

28 thoughts on “The Plot Thickens…

  1. Looking good! Well done both of you. Tromboncino is a must, we grow it every year and feed ourselves through the summer off it. Delicious. Our inca berries too provide a treat. When you get a space on the plot try celtuce, a delight in salads and the stems make great stir fry, as does water spinach. Fry that with garlic and you’ll thank me!

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    1. Mildred reminds me of my old dalmation Freckles. When I lived in Kenya I was lucky enough to have a garden large enough to have an allotment sized veg area where we also grew strawberries. I had beautiful lush plants but no ripe berries, I would check the straw we put around them but no, there were no slugs or snails but each time a strawberry neared ripeness they disappeared. Then very early one morning we discovered why we noticed that Freckles would vanish soon after being let out of the house to pay a call of nature and make a beeline straight to the strawberry patch for a dawn chomp!!!

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      1. Mildred has learned, very quickly, that is she sticks her head in the bed undergrowth, she will find a sweet treat! It would seem that, in smaller form, Freckles lives on! 😀

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    2. I’ve looked at Celtuce a few times over the years and thought ‘should I???’…..so perhaps, on your recommendation, I will….watch this space.

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  2. Fabulous Fabulous, Fabulous – I am beyond green with envy. Especially now, as it is so bitterly cold here with some heavy frosts and my cabbages and caulis have been attacked by the dreaded white butterfly. You both must be so excited to see how all your produce is coming on.. the anticipation before the big ‘pick’ is just the best. You are going to need a wheelbarrow every day to deal with each evenings harvest. And, OMG – 40 tomato plants.. if they all crop well you will run out of freezer space and cupboard space. I was over making sauce by the end of our summer. I also love tigerellas and grow them every year – a great addition to any salad both flavour and appearance. So excited to see more pics as the plot progresses and especially the flower beds …Happy Gardening John and Dan.. xxx

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    1. I am very much looking forward to cropping the tomatoes for salads and sauces….any glut will be happily offered to family and friends

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  3. The next thing we will be reading is about how you are canning and freezing all of this delicious sounding veggies. If you add beans in with the corn and squash you will be doing the Three Sisters planting like the Native Americans taught the early settlers here. I have never heard of a sweet corn that has a 2 foot long ear. WOW… a meal in itself. I hope you remember to take a picture of those. I would love to see it. Your allotment is magnificent. When the flowers get to blooming it will be an explosion of color and form. I can see why you can’t resist indulging Millie’s penchant for strawberries, that sweet face. Max just doesn’t know what he is missing.

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  4. That garden is exemplary! Goodness, I wish mine was so functional. There is plenty of space here, but the space that I used it very steep and confined. I would have used a bigger flat area, but there is no water out there, and I was not certain if the site will be developed this year.

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  5. Wow wow wow you have such an abundant allotment! I can’t wait to get a couple of raised beds in the garden so we can grow our own veg, I have three tomato plants at the moment and just got a flower so am looking forward to when the fruit arrives!

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  6. Your gardening skills are impressive, and everything looks lush and well taken care of. I have only one question – how in the world are two people going to eat all the fresh produce harvested from that space? Hope family and friends bought shares. 🙂

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    1. Any glut will happily be shared with family and friends. I also have a mountain of cookbooks at home and our produce will be turned into all manner of edible delights, I hope!

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  7. Beautiful! It’s a little nerve wracking buying then eating uncooked produce in this time of COVID. Seeing the allotment’s lettuce and anticipating the other wonderful edibles (squash, tomatoes) reignites the desire for fresh produce! May you enjoy that which your hard work and stewardship produce in partnership with the earth’s elements!

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    1. The difference in taste from shop bought and allotment grown is extraordinary. You can’t beat fresh, homegrown produce.

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  8. Just love your ‘down to Earth’ approach to garden blogs. Have so enjoyed reading your progress. I have a not open tiny NGS garden and have found great ideas and thoughts from you both…thanks

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Wonderful! Thanks for the update. Everything looks great, especially the giant sage plant. I wouldn’t mind a nap under that fragrance…smart doggie!

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