Welcome to Lesley Upton’s allotment blog, where she looks at life on the allotment in July. Here she looks at Brussels sprouts, cabbages, cauliflowers and globe artichokes growing on her Berkshire plot
Life on the allotment has been busy recently, as we’ve had quite a few people taking over neglected plots. It’s great to see people working on land that has previously been left to grow wild for months.
Volunteers at our allotment usually rotavate neglected plots so they’re clear for newcomers. But some people don’t realise how much work is involved in their upkeep. They tend their allotment in summer, visit less often in autumn, and then leave it over winter – and sometimes spring as well. Then they wonder why it’s covered in weeds!
I love my allotment because when I visit it I escape from the worries of everyday life. It’s also wonderful to see so much fruit and veg growing on tiny plots of land. But it’s hard work and you have to visit the plot regularly!
The Brussels sprouts are growing well. I sowed one row of ‘Bedford’ and one row of ‘Attwood’ at the top of the allotment, next to the lavender.
I watered them regularly when they were young plants and then just gave them an occasional watering once they were established. Recently, I’ve used my nettle feed on the Brussels and they seem to be thriving on it.
I covered the plants early on with Enviromesh and have now replaced that with black netting. It won’t stop all the butterflies, but it will stop the pigeons.
If all goes well, I should be picking the ‘Bedford’ Brussels from November and the ‘Attwood’ variety from December.
Cabbages and cauliflowers
Next to the Brussels sprouts is a row of ‘Greyhound’ cabbages. Some of them are starting to produce their pointed hearts so I might be able to harvest one soon.
The ‘Amsterdam’ cauliflowers next to the cabbages aren’t faring so well. I think I made the basic mistake of planting them too close to the cabbages. I’ve fed them with nettle tea so I hope they will improve over the next few weeks.
I have love/hate relationship with cauliflowers! I either get lots of beautiful, large, white cauliflower heads, or curds – or I get nothing at all. Some years I’ve had to freeze the cauliflowers because we couldn’t eat them all, but I don’t think that will happen this year.
The insects are loving the purple flower heads of my globe artichokes. I should try cooking them before they flower, but I always forget. Anyway, the bees and hoverflies love them – and they look lovely on the allotment!
I’ve managed to keep these artichoke plants for about four years now. They will tolerate fairly mild winters and I make a point of covering the bases with straw if very cold weather is forecast.
Let’s keep gardening!
One of the great things about lockdown was that more people discovered the joy of gardening and growing things and we greatly hope that this won’t wear off now that ‘normal’ life has resumed.
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