I’ve been spending too much time working (sound familiar?), baby-caring (unavoidable) and wedding organising (least said about that the better) and not enough time sorting out the allotment. I usually spend about an hour there every other day, but this time is completely taken up with harvesting, picking, watering. In my absence, a sea of thistles has grown up, and the disaster zone at the back of the compost bins has reached a whole new level of jungle. So today I bunked off for a few hours and really grafted, trying to get things in order. And whilst I hoed and chopped and strimmed, I made a few mental notes for next year. Think of it as a gift of wisdom from present self to future self. Namely:
Cosmos: Ditch Antiquity, it always grows short and stunted. Purity, Double click cranberry and Dazzler are the ONES. Take care when propagating to do it properly, one plant per pot, with none of my normal slapdash-ness.
Cornflower: Work out why they are always so short and stumpy, and then try to do better. Definitely worth persevering.
Tomatoes: Stick to Costoluto Fiorentino as it’s pretty reliable, but ditch all the other varieties, including Noire de Crimee and Golden boy. Find an eating type (rather than a cooking type) that has bullet-proof resistance to blossom-end rot.
Beans: Find a different runner bean, perhaps one that is less stringy. Plant purple and yellow French climbing beans alongside the usual green ones. Blue Lake was OK but perhaps prefer Cobra.
Kale and greens: The Sarah Raven Nero di Toscana has performed really well. I miss the other types of kale though – can I track down Fills of hex again? Chard luculuss and Spinach Perpetual are unbeatable.
Sweetpeas: SHOCK HORROR but it may not be worth the bother? Unless I can find ones that are reliably long-stemmed and greenfly-proof.
Parsnips and leeks: Remember to grow some.
Rocket: As above.
Cleome: Fun plant even though it stinks of cannabis. Definitely grow again.
Rudbeckia: Not a great cut flower but will look fab in the back garden for late summer dark colour. Buy as seedlings as I never get them to grow well from seed.
Sunflowers: All the sunflowers have done really well. Get a new packet of the Seeds of Italy sunflower mix, and re-plant the Sarah Raven Magic Roundabout and Valentine.
Blackcurrants and blueberries: Need some attention. Do blackcurrants come to an end of a working life? Perhaps they need some food? Do a bit of research.
Broadbeans: Grow four times as many as you think you need. There are never ever enough.
Strawberries: Maybe time to dig them up and start again with tastier varieties.
The Wilderness: For God’s sake, sort it out over the winter. No excuses.
Also this week:
Harvesting: Raspberries, raspberries, more raspberries. Chard, cavolo nero, tomatoes – only the Fiorentino though, the others have all had it. Runner beans, sunflowers, first chrysanthemums, cosmos, cleome.
Not harvesting: Courgettes. I just can’t take it anymore.
Sowing: Red devil kale, rocket, mustard salad mix.
Cooking: Raspberry meringues, chicken and bacon pie, a vat of chicken stock
Reading: According to Yes by Dawn French. Never read any of her novels before as I don’t think of her as a novelist, but my misplaced snobbery needs shaming. It’s brilliant. Plus she has great hair. Nothing not to love.