One man & his organic plot - July 2018

It really is a treat to have such beautiful weather, living in the busy city of London, it’s amazing how the mood of the city changes when the sun and warmth are present. The parks are packed, and it reminds me of their importance to city life. It mystifies me why they have become as neglected over the past few decades as they are obviously such an important part of our lives.
Chris Collins in his winter garden
However, I digress, and the heat does have it down sides, one being the incredible heat on our transport systems and my struggling allotment. It’s been a strange growing season in many ways. The late cold spring didn't get things off to the best start, nor my busy schedule this year and now with the heat, it's a low yield season for me. The very slow growth of the runner beans this year is a good indicator of how dry things have been. Normally such a reliable crop, it’s been more of a walk than a run this year. I notice this across the whole allotment site.
Of course, the job that really occupies everyone is watering. It's the only game in town at the moment and needs to be done correctly in this heat if it’s to have any effect and not just return to the atmosphere with little or no impact. The old boys on the allotment site are there very early doors, watering their plants directly. You don't need a hosepipe in this weather. All you’ll do is water the air and probably scorch your plants into the bargain. Water your plants, directly to the base, when temperatures are cooler in the morning or evening. This task is going to be order of the day in the next few weeks and if you have some of gardening gold compost to spare, a mulch around some of your courgettes, beans, squashes will do some good and may help combat any of those grey coloured funguses setting in.
One thing I do love though is the great allotment spirit that comes into play when us gardeners are up against it. Lots of people seem to be helping each other out when they can see dry plants. This is what it’s all about for me, community and food growing in action. I may be pushing their patience this year though as I’ve left a few natural corridors on the site. Just a couple of overgrown pathways that run the length of the site. I want to encourage predators to help with my fight against pests & diseases and I’ve been chatting to quite a few natural gardeners about this. They advise me that having a wild area just in one spot of the allotment is non effective as the predators will just stay in situ, a pathway or corridor is far more effective allowing them passage across the site, which when you think about it, makes perfect sense.
Well, there are some benefits to this hot sunny weather. My balcony garden is looking fantastic and has taken on an extra factor this year as nearly all the plants are recycled from the garden we made at this year’s Chelsea flower show. I’ve no doubt quite a few of these plants would have struggled to survive without my intervention and frankly, they look fantastic in the sun.
Of course the other advantage of this heat is that it’s a big enemy of our friends the slugs and snails and although the conditions may be tough it at least keep these little characters away.
Swings and roundabouts and happy gardening people.

Chris Collins