Welcome to Lesley Upton’s allotment blog, where she looks at life on her allotment in July from the veg she is growing to how people are living with the threat of coronavirus. Here she looks at French beans, runner beans, strawberries and garlic growing on her Berkshire plot.
Thank goodness we’ve had some rain to make life on the allotment in July a little easier, but now we have strong winds that are causing havoc to my beans! I’ve had to tie in most of my runner beans, while the dwarf French beans – which don’t usually need support – have had to be supported with string. It’s very strange weather for July.
I’ve lost two dwarf French beans because it’s been so windy, and the third (bottom right of the picture below) doesn’t look like it will survive. It’s such a shame as they are growing so well this year.
I’ve enclosed the beans in a string support in the hope that it will stop the wind blowing them over and snapping the stems.
The runner beans have also been affected by the strong winds, so I’ve tied these to the canes. There are a number of young beans forming on both the ‘Polestar’ and ‘Painted Lady’ varieties.
‘Painted Lady’ is an old variety, originating in mid-1800s, and has lovely red and white flowers. ‘Polestar’ is a more recent variety that is supposed to be completely stringless.
As my strawberries fruited early they are producing runners earlier than usual. So I’ve earmarked a few plants that produced lots of large fruit and have potted up the runners.
I filled some 4in (11cm) pots with compost, watered it and then chose some strong runners, preferably that had already started to form roots. I then pushed the roots of the runner into the compost and anchored it in place using a U-shaped piece of wire. The runner should remain attached to the parent plant until its own roots have become established.
Some of the runners had two or three new plants forming, so I chose the strongest one (nearest the parent plant) and removed the rest of the runner.
I should have seven new strawberry plants in four-six weeks. When I see roots coming through the bottom of the pot, I’ll snip the runner from the parent and plant it out on the strawberry plot.
My garlic was growing really well until we had the hot, dry weather. I’m not sure if I overwatered or underwatered them, but they didn’t produce many bulbs. Then the foliage started to dry up, so I decided it was best to lift the bulbs as soon as possible.
I planted some elephant garlic along with some traditional garlic last October – but I can’t remember if it was a hardneck or softneck variety. The rain washed away the variety on the label, but I think it was a hardneck variety.
Hardneck garlic is usually hardier than softneck garlic, but it produces fewer cloves per bulb (9-11 cloves). Softneck garlic is less hardy than hardneck varieties and produces more cloves per bulb. It also stores better than hardneck garlic.
Elephant garlic, which is more closely related to leeks than to garlic, has a milder flavour than traditional garlic. I actually prefer using this when cooking.
I really should keep a list of what I sow and when, so I can see what grows well each year. I’ll try harder next year!
Let’s keep gardening!
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