Welcome to Lesley Upton’s allotment blog, where she looks at life on her Berkshire allotment, from the veg she is growing to how people are living with the threat of coronavirus. Here she looks at growing vegetables on the allotment in June, including potatoes, beans, sweetcorn and lettuces

We had quite a lot of rain during the week, and the allotment is looking much better for it. Rain is important when you’re growing vegetables on the allotment in June. There were no thunderstorms or really heavy downpours, just steady rain – which was ideal.

I’ve found a novel way of collecting rainwater in my back garden. We treated ourselves to a new set of patio furniture and bought a thick waterproof cover to protect it. This cover collects the rainwater in puddles and I lift the cover at strategic points so the water flows into buckets. Thanks to this system, and the guttering on the shed, I now have one water butt half full and the other three-quarters full!

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Potatoes
Last week I lifted some lovely, if rather small, ‘Charlotte’ salad potatoes. This week I thought I’d try the first-early ‘Foremost’. These were slightly bigger, but there weren’t many of them.

I just can’t help myself when it comes to digging up potatoes, as I need to find out what’s underneath! Now I have to be patient and give them a bit more time.

'Foremost' first early potatoes

‘Foremost’ first early potatoes.

The picture shows the potatoes from two plants. I hope the rain will make a difference and cause the tubers to swell before I dig up the next lot.

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Runner beans
The ‘Painted Lady’ and ‘Polestar’ runner beans are coming into flower. I haven’t seen anyone else’s beans in flower on the allotment yet, so I hope I’m one of the first to get a crop. The red and white flowers are the ‘Painted Lady’ beans, while the plain red flowers are the ‘Polestar’.

It will be interesting to see how each performs. The ‘Painted Lady’ beans are supposed to be very tender, so I’ll see how they compare to the ‘Polestar’ beans.

'Polestar' (red) and 'Painted Lady' (bicoloured) runner beans

‘Polestar’ (red) and ‘Painted Lady’ (bicoloured) runner beans.

Last year was a disaster for runner beans. I picked two or three beans and even those were stringy. I have never experienced such a bad season for beans in all the years I’ve had my allotment. The courgette is also growing well in among the beans. I always plant a courgette between them to save space and hopefully keep the weeds down between the beans.

I’ll be adding my comfrey tea when I water from now on to feed the beans and the courgette. I add one part comfrey to around 10 parts water.

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Sweetcorn
My sweetcorn plants have recovered remarkably well from the frosting they received last month. I did cover them with fleece, but the leaves were touching the cover and got a little frosted.

'Swift' sweetcorn.

‘Swift’ sweetcorn.

This year I’ve grown ‘Swift’ and all the plants are growing well with the male tassels appearing on some. I’m also growing a butternut squash at each end of the row, but they don’t seem to be doing much at the moment.

Never mix the varieties of sweetcorn that you grow. As sweetcorn is wind pollinated, the breeze can carry pollen of one variety to another of a different strain and this can lead to unpredictable results.

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Lettuces
It’s been a good year so far for the lettuces I’ve grown on the allotment. I’ve picked lots of loose-leaf Salad Bowl Red and Green lettuce and the ‘Iceberg’ plants are still heartening up in among the Brussels sprouts.

Young 'All Year Round' lettuce plants

Young ‘All Year Round’ lettuce plants.

Now I’ve planted six ‘All Year Round’ lettuce plants to keep me going until the end of summer. This is a butterhead variety with a compact, crisp heart that I’ve grown before and it’s been very reliable. I should be able to start picking in around 10 weeks after sowing. I’ll be water the plants regularly, as I do with all my lettuces.

 

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