As spring slowly fades to summer and the days get longer, the list of jobs at the allotment is ever growing. There are always seeds to sow and weeds to hoe.
Keep on top of your weeds
If you follow the no dig way of gardening, please ignore this step.
We all know that weeds are the bane of our life, it is a never ending and fruitless task that we must do in order to keep our plot and plants happy. Weeds can be quite invasive and in some cases even damage your crop.
The weed you really want to worry about is Bindweed, whilst the flower is beautiful; it is a very invasive weed and needs to be completely destroyed. We have had to dig down to almost 3ft deep in order to remove all of the root. Make sure you remove all of the vine and the root, even the smallest bit can re-root. Do not put this in your compost heap, place it in the general waste or burn it.
Whilst brambles, dandelions and nettles can also be invasive; they have some fantastic uses. Brambles will provide you with blackberries and you can even weave baskets with the bramble stems. You can make a plethora of things with dandelions; such as wine, fritters and a honey like syrup. They are also an important source of early nectar for the bees. Nettles can make a fantastic fertiliser for your plot, just be careful not to sting yourself in the process. Nettles are also high in vitamin C and can be added to many recipes.
Mound up your potatoes
As the greenery of the potatoes grows, you must continue to mound up the soil around the base. By leaving only the top leaves exposed, this ensures that light doesn’t reach the tuber below. If light does reach the tuber the potatoes will turn green [and possibly contain toxins] and thus be inedible.
Trim back your herbs
Herbs are due their annual trim to refresh the growth and provide you with an ongoing harvest of herbs throughout the summer. Sharp snippers are the preferable way to trim back the herbs, but a good pair of scissors will do the job. Any sort of blunt instrument will damage the plant and possibly stunt future growth.
You may find that some of your herbs have already started to flower, this really isn’t an issue. The majority of herb flowers will be edible and put on a wonderful display; chives especially! Plus, the bees won’t complain. Some of the herbs you have cut off may not be as flavoursome if they have flowered, but are still perfectly adequate to add to salads or for drying.
Protect your delicate crops
Our crops need help from time to time, everything is starting to come into season so now is the perfect time to take some precautions.
Brassicas are a favourite of whitefly, pigeons and caterpillars (to name a few). A brassica cage is a great way of keeping out most of your unwanted visitors. The smaller, finer netting is the best to use so that birds and other small animals do not get tangled up in the netting. You can also net your fruit bushes and strawberry patches, although this is not integral.
Straw is also a great addition to your allotment for keeping pests at bay. By lifting your fruit or vegetables off the ground with straw, this will help prevent slugs from eating them. Slugs and snails hate anything rough on their bodies. This works well for strawberries and courgettes, but there many other low lying growers that would benefit from this.
Woollen slug pellets around your crops are a great alternative to the classic blue slug pellets. Once water is applied to the woollen pellets, it forms a rough mesh that the slugs will not want in contact with their bodies. It is also chemical free. The blue pellets contain Metaldehyde and are poisonous to animals that eat slugs and snails, such as; hedgehogs, birds and the French.
I know this seems pretty obvious, but it is extremely important that you water your plants well. Make sure that you are allowing the water to soak deep into the soil so that the root system of the plant will grow further down into the soil, which in turn will ensure a strong and stable plant. If the water only reaches the surface area, the root system will be shallow and affect your crop. The type of soil you have will affect how often you need to water your crops.
I have raided my box of seeds to see what can be sown for the last time in June. Here is your last chance to sow these vegetables:
- Garden Pea (Early)
- Cabbage – Golden Acre
- Cauliflower – All Year Round, Macerata Green
- Red Kuri Squash
- Rhubarb [Swiss] Chard
- Cucumber – Japanese [Zipangu], Gherkin, Tasty Green, Crystal Apple and Lemon.
- Basil – Sweet [Original] and Mrs Burns Lemon Basil
- Spring Onions
- Broccoli – Green and Summer Purple
- Poppies and wild flower seed mixes [until October]
The sowing months are a general guide so please take into consideration the weather and soil in your area.
Have a fruitful month!