on the allotment :: July 3

Crafty shot that does not show the nose-high grass which still covers about half the plot.

Crafty shot that does not show the nose-high grass which still covers about half the plot.

 harvest

shallots

shallots1

There are two types of harvest on our allotment: ones we have worked for and ones that are an astonishing free gift. The shallots fall in to the former category – they were the first things we planted here when we only had two workable beds in the autumn. Right now they are hanging in the greenhouse to dry out, and I am frantically Googling recipes. Knowing how much of something to plant seems to be one of the hardest things for an allotment newbie to grasp.

All the fruit was here when we took over the plot and apart from a bit of weeding I have done virtually nothing to care for the plants. It feels like cheating.

The gooseberries have become jam, a crumble, and, most deliciously, some gooseberry and elderflower sorbet using a recipe from Sarah Raven’s excellent Garden Cookbook. Possibly my favourite frozen dessert ever.

digging

roots

There has been digging this past fortnight, too. It’s a bit like marking out territory for me: every time we move, and now on this allotment, I heft out the soil in a trench one spit* deep, shovel in a layer of manure, cover with soil by digging a parallel trench, and so on to the end of the bed.

Along the way you get the satisfaction of extracting weeds right down to their roots, even the most tenacious customers like bindweed and dandelions.

I never disrupt the soil again. Every spring and autumn I cover the beds with manure or home-made compost that the worms can draw down to enrich the earth. Tip: I have recently discovered that our city farm sells fantastic manure for a smallish sum of money that goes straight back into their educational programmes.

slates

The latest bed is edged with slates from our neighbours who were having a new roof installed. I’m enjoying using only found materials for the allotment: we have a tiny budget so it’s a necessity, but I actually prefer the effect to something more uniform.

blackcurrants

redcurrantsFinally our son, helpfully just back from university, has been hacking away some of the comfrey, bindweed and thistles that were rampaging through the currant bushes. I don’t think the harvest will be huge this year, but surely something good must result from berries as magical as these.

Joining with Soulemama and others around the world to share news about growing.

*spit: a layer of earth whose depth is equal to the length of the blade of a spade

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11 comments

  1. All that fruit looks delicious – especially the Gooseberries, as for some reason we didn’t get much of a harvest this year. And love the Shallots drying on the line – a simple idea, but one these rookies didn’t think of ! 🙂

    1. It’s like you said once on your blog – bit by bit it does make progress. Our challenge at the moment though is to make faster progress than the rampaging grass and comfrey!

  2. Your plot looks HUGE! No wonder there is more to be tamed. And hurrah for the no-dig method and the legacy of previous plantings. (PS If you know anyone with a tortoise, I’m told they love bindweed salad…)

    1. It is huge. When we took it over it was shared but the sharer surprised us earlier this year by saying he didn’t want it any more. I am half excited, half terrified! (And I also need to find a tortoise or ten!)

    1. I know – I feel very fortunate. The bushes have been neglected while we have been digging the rest of the plot but I am looking forward to giving them some extra care in the autumn!

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