Welcome to Lesley Upton’s allotment blog, where she will look 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 how she is growing pumpkins, squashes, courgettes and leeks at home, ready to transplant on the allotment

Giant pumpkin

In less than a week the pumpkin seed I planted has germinated. I planted two pumpkin ‘Autumn Mammoth’ seeds, and so far only one has sprung to life. I’ll leave it in the pot for another week or so and see if the other seed starts to sprout. Then, I’ll remove the bigger plant, pot it up and get it acclimatised to life outside before planting it at the allotment next month.

'Mammoth' pumpkin

Only one ‘Mammoth’ pumpkin has emerged so far.

This orange-skinned pumpkin has yellow flesh and can grow to a weight of 50kg (110lb). I grew one last year, but it didn’t get to that size.

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Compact courgettes

Also growing well are four courgettes that I planted at the same time as the pumpkin seeds. Courgette ‘Endurance’ is an early compact variety that produces good yields of dark-green fruit.

'Endurance' courgettes

All four ‘Endurance’ courgettes have germinated.

I’ll be potting these up in a few days and will plant them out on the allotment next month.

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Leeks

I’ve grown two varieties of leeks this year. ‘Pancho’ is a fast-growing variety that should produce crops of long, white shanks from late August/September. I’ve also grown ‘Autumn Mammoth’, that should produce leeks with thicker stems than ‘Pancho’ and be ready to harvest later, from October. This variety should also withstand moderate frosts.

Leeks 'Autumn Mammoth' (left) and 'Pancho'

The leeks ‘Autumn Mammoth’ (left) and ‘Pancho’ were sown in pots in February.

I sowed my leek seeds towards the end of February and will soon transplant the seedlings into a seedbed where they will have more room to develop. Then, when they’re about the same width as a pencil, I’ll move them to the allotment in individual holes.

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Squash

Last year I grew four squash plants that produced more than 20 squashes. I kept some over the winter and gave quite a few to friends and neighbours.

young butternut squash

Two butternut squash seeds have germinated.

‘Hunter’ F1 is a high-yielding butternut squash with a buff-coloured skin and sweet-tasting, bright-orange flesh. I’ll let the two plants grow for another week or so and then pot them up, before transplanting them to the allotment.

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Globe artichoke

I grew my globe artichoke from seed about four years ago and it’s still going strong. I leave the old stems on the plant during winter, and mulch it with straw and compost to provide some protection from frost.

globe artichoke

The globe artichoke survived the winter and looks really healthy.

It produces lots of flower buds and the bees love the purple flowers. I haven’t, as yet, tried cooking and eating the globes – mainly because I keep forgetting to pick them before they get too big. I might give it a try this year. I’ll give it a feed of blood, fish and bone shortly and make sure it’s well watered during dry weather.

 

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Although many people are coping well with self-isolation, others are really struggling and feeling completely forgotten and alone.

Here at AG we are doing our best to keep connected to our readers though the magazine, this website and also through social media.

Our gardening ‘agony uncle’ John Negus is also still working hard. Send him your problems and questions, with pictures if you can, and he will get back to you with an answer withing 24 hours, as he has been doing for decades. Contact him using the AG email address at

amateurgardening@ti-media.com

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