I will confess after coming all the way back from Gardeners World Live, in Birmingham the idea at 8pm that I’ve got to leg to the allotment, does feel like a bit of a chore. However, it needs to be done and once down there it turns into the most pleasant hour of the day. I do enjoy talking to people in my day to day work but an hour with my plants can’t be beaten, especially now I am transporting them to the dinner table.
Fresh salad, rocket & radish is the order of the day in the Collins household, with tomatoes and courgettes only moments away it’s great to be rewarded for all the effort. I know food growers are constantly going on about how great fresh food tastes but it’s so true.
I have been particularly impressed by my heritage seed radish, ‘Pasque’ which has got to quite a size. The other day I grated some up and Mrs Collins added her Japanese touch with a sauce made from cooking Saki, soya sauce, sesame oil and fish powder. Left to marinate this really did taste amazing. Since eating it two more rows of radish have been sown and I feel this may become a bit of a theme for the summer.
Other jobs on the allotment have included planting a lot of squash, pumpkin and even a melon that I picked up from Ryton last week. I have given these a good feed and I am hoping their dominance will help in my fight against the weeds, shading out as much as possible. I’ve noticed the mare’s tail is not keen on competition and doesn’t grow so well where the allotment is heavily planted so with luck, my workload may be reduced. This does require an immediate sacrifice though as they are small at the moment and so need plenty of water in this heat. I have found that puddling them really helps. Just building up a bank of soil around the plant to trap the water really gives them a good soak.
One area I am winning with is my balcony garden. Growing completely without chemicals or artificial fertiliser, it is thriving and is heading toward its peak with a mix of roses, herbs, summer bedding plants and of course plenty of food crops, including heritage varieties of tomatoes, runner beans and chilli’s. It looks fantastic as it blends with the surrounding trees and is the perfect spot to sit with a beer in the warm summer evenings.
Happy Gardening, Chris Collins
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