For most, this was the weekend that summer announced its arrival. With a cloudless sky and a shining sun, it was time for allotments and gardens across the land to cash in on some seasonal good fortune.
On the plot, things seem to be coming on nicely, although we seem to be hit again by the dreaded garlic rust. Despite planting the bulbs with room to grow and ensuring they get plenty of ventilation, there’s no escaping it. When I first began gardening all those moons ago, all my crops were grown out of the back garden alongside flowers, and I never had trouble. Whether it was down to the garden having its own micro-climate, or fencing preventing winds carrying airborne diseases, who knows? However, as weird as it sounds, it’s reassuring to know that I’m not the only one with the same problem. Walking around other plots, it’s clear this is just one of those things our allotment, as a whole, suffers from. Nevertheless, despite its ugliness, I just remove the affected leaves and let the garlic grow. Touch wood, every year the bulbs seem unaffected. Futhermore, the one variety of garlic which seems resistant to the the fungi is Elephant Garlic. Their leaves remain a shiny green without a blemish in sight. The carrots have finally started to hold their own, which comes as a great relief. Earlier this year I sowed three different varieties and nothing happened. I did it again.. and nothing. So after digging over the bed and prepping it one last time I decided to sow only one variety ‘Royal Chantenay’, and to my delight, they germinated. I’m not sure why this year I’ve been having so much trouble, my regime is exactly the same in prepping the bed. But I guess if everything was the same year in year out, gardening would become predictable.
With nearly all my young plants out of the polytunnel, and already planted into their final growing positions, it was time for more of that never-ending weeding. However, it was also an opportunity to tidy up the polytunnel and plant up my young tomato plants. For me, there is always something nostalgic about growing tomatoes. Their unique smell is something I’ve come to treasure over the years. It always conjures up memories of me as a child watching my Dad, another keen gardener, feed and fuss over his plants. To this day the smell always stops me in my tracks.
But that’s just another pleasure of gardening, it can unlock memories. Just a smell or a colour can peel back those years and take you to a time you had long forgotten.
So with a little time sat in the shade of my shed, watching gardeners go about their business, I sip on a well-earned drink. Thoughts and aspirations take hold, and I realise allotments are not just places for vegetables, they can also nurture your cherished memories.