July is when we hit the sweet spot; all those months of hard work finally start to pay off. Flowers are blooming and crops are ready for harvesting.
The recent good weather and soaring temperatures have certainly played their part in beefing up my crops, and I’m now finding I no longer need to nanny them. The plants I transplanted from the polytunnel have taken their first steps, and are now finding their own way on the big allotment. Those days of nursing them when they were mere seedlings are over. Like a father seeing his child off on their first day of school, I worry and hope the plants play nicely together, but I have to let them go, and hope that one day, when they reach maturity, they will return my affection with a bountiful harvest.
So, as they grow and mix with their own kind, all I can do is sit on the sidelines, holding their horticultural fleece fondly, and watch. Of course there are moments when they will falter, and need me to tie them in, feed them, or fend off the bug bullies. But for the most part, all I can do is let them go… (wipes tear from cheek).
I’ve been working this piece of precious land for several years now, and it’s been a steep learning curve. From creating beds and paths from scratch, to bringing in more wildlife, I’ve learnt so much. But finally, after years of pouring all the horticultural knowledge I have into this small piece of land, I’m seeing some big results. The soil is looking incredibly healthy and the weeds have been minimal.
Of course, there are one or two trouble-makers who haven’t got the memo, and who are clearly doing their own thing. By now, my squashes are, usually, swelling nicely. This year though, they’ve decided to kick back and relax. Although the fruit are there, they’re certainly nothing to boast about. But with the warmer days and sultry nights, I’m hoping they’ll soon catch-up.
Crops on the whole are looking good, and tasting wonderful. I introduced the No Dig method on a couple of beds last year, and the results have been staggering. We’ve got broad beans coming out of our ears, and our brassicas are looking splendid. I’ve always been a gardener who has enjoyed digging, and thought it was an essential part of the allotment regime. However, the No Dig method is great for all those useful micro-organisms in the soil, and the final results are looking promising. Although, I will always yearn for my spade and the satisfaction of turning over an entire plot, the No Dig method is certainly worth pursuing.
Even weeding this year hasn’t been a huge chore, and the slugs have kept their distance. Life on the plot is good, but in the back of my mind, the little voice tells me, ‘this is only temporary. There will be something to upset the balance at some point’. But that’s gardening! No two growing seasons are ever the same.