There are only three weeks left to go before the allotment open day with The National Gardens Scheme and much still to do. With day after day of rain recently, I have to confess, I have not been putting in my usual amount of hours down there and the weeds have started to take hold. So a concerted effort is called for to get everything in ship shape condition.
But I’m pleased with how many crops I’ve got on the go. I’ve just harvested the first of the French beans, the row of runners should soon be bearing beans (these are always our most productive crop and so easy), I can hardly keep up with the courgettes and hopefully when the sun does decide to shine the cucumbers and tomatoes will start to bear some fruit too.
Another great success is the blackberry bush, the fruit is so much bigger and sweeter than the wild variety and apart from one prune a year, there’s nothing to do. We’ve also got raspberries, figs, leek, fennel, a rather sparse bed of Cavolo Nero kale following a slug attach and some very tiny celeriac plants and a few small cordon fruit trees. So really I am quite pleased with how it should all look.
The lettuce has been magnificent but despite my best efforts it always seems to come at once and is already starting to bolt. I have sown some more seeds which are just starting to sprout, but they need a bit longer to look anything special. The beetroot will be over too.
Sometimes I think I plan my whole allotment year around the opening, deciding what to sow when so it will look its best for the visitors. I remember one year I left a whole bed of cauliflower unpicked just so my plot would look its best. And then, of course, it all went over before we’d managed to eat it all. But then when I read Joy Larkcom’s Great Vegetable Book I was reassured to hear that she felt the same and just refused to harvest a cabbage or lettuce if it spoiled the ‘look’ of a bed! I wonder if this a female thing? DISCUSS!
But it’s all in a good cause. Last year’s open day raised an incredible £1,500. And it all goes to the NGS charities, whose beneficiaries include Macmillan Cancer Support (they are their biggest single donor) Marie Curie Cancer Care, Crossroads – Caring for Carers and Help the Hospices.
So if you are in the Richmond area on 14 August, please do drop by. You can find us in Old Palace Lane, the door in the wall next to the White Swan pub, TW9 1PG. Admission is £3, with children free of charge. Tea, cakes and refreshments will be available on our communal plot and you’ll will also be able to buy some freshly dug veg to feast on during the week.