It's been a dry month to the extent that it could only be allotment holders who were delighted when when the rain did finally come last weekend. We're continuing to harvest our crops, clear patches and plant some winter vegetables. We've also been distracted by other some matters...
Some of our allotment dealings this month have not all been to do with fruit and vegetables. When we came into the greenhouse last week we noticed one of the panes of glass from the roof was broken. On the floor we found the culprit...
At the back of the allotments is a large public field and I have seen some people practicing their golf shots on there before. It seems someone was a little too inspired by the Olympics on this occasion and was channelling their inner Justin Rose but their attempt at a hole in one went slightly astray. Added to this we have had a letter from the council addressed, 'Dear Allotment Tenant' which went on to say someone has dumped 'chicken carcasses' and this matter has now been reported to the Environmental Services to be cleaned up. We still can't work out where these chicken carcasses were dumped and exactly what state they were in. Do they mean fully feathered bodies or just bones? I'm not sure if someone has lobbed over their KFC Bargain Bucket or something more gruesome. Whatever it is I think the council should be looking further afield than their own allotment holders.
Back to the important stuff – what we have been eating! We dug up our first ever potatoes. These are maincrop desiree potatoes. With root vegetables it is always a worry until you actually start looking underneath the soil. At first we were just digging up the potatoes as have needed them but now we have decided to harvest the lot. They have all been put in a double lined sack with newspaper at the bottom. I hope this keeps out the light and stops them sprouting.
We still have another patch of potatoes to dig. They are the pink fir apple variety which are a salad potato. Around the plot are some other rogue potato plants left from the previous tenant. The most intriguing are these purple ones. I haven't cooked them yet so I don't know what they taste like. We've also planted some new potatoes which hopefully should be ready in time for Christmas. The allotment society has sent round the order form for next year and we have put down for a number of different varieties. Many people say don't grow potatoes because they are so cheap to buy but if you are going to grow your own food you have to grow what you will eat and we eat a lot of potatoes! We were also pleasantly surprised to see how cheap the seed potatoes are through the bulk ordering scheme.
The onions have now dried out and we only have a few left to eat so more will be grown next year. In their place on our makeshift drying crate is the garlic. The garlic isn't very big so I don't know if we should have left it in longer or added anything to the soil. However, we still have plenty for our needs.
The elephant garlic we bought in the Isle of Wight earlier in the year has also been dug up. We're not going to eat this one and instead the cloves are going to be resown for next year. Apparently you can only do this once so we will await the results next year. You've got to have patience with allotment growing!
The first of our runner beans are now ready. Ours are late compared to everyone else's as our method of planting straight into the soil didn't work. We tried again by germinating them at home and thankfully it seems we were just in time. We haven't been without runner beans though as other allotment holders are desperate to get rid of theirs!
The little gem lettuces have now bolted so have been pulled up with the space reserved for some other salad crops. We're not without salad though as new leaves have appeared and the tomatoes in the greenhouse are ripening at a steady pace.
Some weeks ago I noticed what I thought was a beautiful black and dark pink butterfly flying around the plots. I tried to find out the species but to no avail. The answer has been provided by these caterpillars. It seems it wasn't butterflies I had seen but cinnabar moths. They are one of the few day flying moths in the UK. The caterpillars food of choice is the ragwort weeds and there are plenty around to keep them happy! I did find some on the runner beans and these were served an immediate eviction notice.
So onto September with more raspberries, more potatoes, more runner beans and more planting!