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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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