Monthly Archives: June 2015

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Keep sowing the seeds

One of the biggest pleasures for anyone who grows their own fruit and veg is being able to eat them while they’re still full of flavour. We’ve been enjoying the deliciously delicate taste of young broad beans this week. Broad bean 2015 won’t be the biggest or best crop I’ve ever grown so we’re making the most of what we have. Unfortunately the black flies are doing the same.

Black fly love the tender shoots at the top of broad bean plants so it’s a good idea to remove these tasty tips as soon the first bean pods start to form. I missed the crucial shoot removing period while I was on holiday and it’s very noticeable that my neighbours have far less black fly. As if I need reminding – this is not a good time of year to be away from the allotment!

One of the other wonderful things about growing fruit and vegetables is the company of like-minded people – sharing ideas and learning from each other. It was both fun and useful to meet plot holders from the two allotment sites for coffee and cake on Sunday. It’s clear from the stories of successes and failures that every year is different and that we never stop learning.

One piece of advice I’ll be following next season is not to sow parsnip too thinly. Apparently ‘parsnips like to have company’ – perhaps that’s why mine didn’t germinate? Next season I’ll be more generous with my sowing.

Our sweetcorn seedlings were planted out on the allotment before we went away. The seeds were sown at home – one seed to a pot as they don’t like their roots being disturbed – and then planted out in blocks rather than rows. Sweetcorn is wind rather than insect pollinated and planting in blocks is said to increase the chances of a good crop. Time will tell whether my blocks are blocky enough.

There’s still enough rhubarb for a meal or so despite our over zealous picking for the Allotment Association Plant Sale. This is the last chance to enjoy it. It needs to be left in peace after the end June so that it can recover for next season.

It’s so easy to get carried away with the excitement of picking and eating at this time of year that we forget to sow more seeds. Now’s the time to sow the next lot of French beans, salad leaves, chard and spinach beet so that there’s still plenty to enjoy in the early autumn.

Tips from the allotments:

– Keep busy with the hoe

– Pick off and get rid of asparagus beetle

Sow for cropping in early autumn

  • Beetroot
  • Carrots
  • French beans
  • Salad leaves
  • Chard
  • Spinach beet
  • Runner beans
  • Salad leaves
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Chelsea Fringe, healthy gardens, Capability Brown Festival and a new banknote

This year’s Chelsea Fringe may be drawing to a close but there are still plenty of events to enjoy – and not just in London.   The fun started for Chelsea Fringe Henley almost three weeks ago with a gloriously sunny Floral Flotilla along the Thames.  If the forecast is to be believed, we’ll finish with an equally sunny family and community day at Bosley Patch.              

As always, the start of the Chelsea Fringe coincided with the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. It was encouraging to see the link between gardening and health being explored even more this year.  Garden designer and member of the Landscape, Gardens and Health Network, Juliet Sargeant, did a brilliant job working with the teams at Gardeners World and at Chelsea to publicise the importance of nature and gardens for our health.

It’s crucial for the future of our parks and green spaces that both policy makers and members of the public grasp the message. It’s easy for those of us who are immersed in the gardening world to think that it’s common sense, but there are still plenty of people who don’t spend much time outside. It’s far more difficult for them to appreciate the link. The more media coverage the subject gets, the better.

The National Federation of Parks and Green Spaces now has over 5,000 Friends Groups registered – groups of people who want their local green spaces to be appreciated and protected.  The Federation’s goal is to have a Friends Group for every one of our 27,000 urban green spaces. Do you know a park with a Friends Group who have yet to sign up?

Does Capability Brown deserve a place on the back of the new £20 note?  We have a few weeks left to consider – the deadline for nominations is 19th July.  There’s a link on the Capability Brown Festival website and plenty of other Brown related news and events to catch up on too.

Masses of opportunities for being outside and making the most of the good weather. A few dates for your diary:

 6 – 7 June, Bristol’s Clifton and Hotwells’ 2nd Open Gardens Weekend

13-14 June, Open Garden Squares

24 July – 2 August, Love Parks Week

22 September, The AGT and Avon Gardens Trust Study Day, in conjunction with the GHS

‘Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown at Kings Weston: A Re-assessment Exploring his Legacy of Comfort and Elegance’