Tuesday, 3 August 2010


It still amazes me to think that in one season we converted this, above, to this, below:

This is our third summer on the allotments, and we have all experienced bumper crops right from the start. This year has probably been the most challenging. It started off cold and wet, and it seemed to take a long time for the soil to warm up for optimum seed germination. Now we have the driest summer for goodness knows how many years, even decades.

I have always felt that plants should not be watered too often; that plants once established, should be encouraged to grow their roots down to the water deeper in the soil, and that watering should be restricted to establishing plants after transplanting for example. "Little and often" watering is definitely not a good idea as this encourages rooting close to the surface.

But this year I have broken my own rules. Most plants have required frequent watering simply to survive - many have shown signs of distress and I have had to cave in to their demand!

Some crops always require plenty of watering. One such is celeriac. it can be quite a challenging crop to grow for that reason, but is worth the trouble as it makes fabulous soup for freezing for the winter. Another crop that needs plenty of water at the right time is the marrow - too little water and the skins are very tough, and the flesh very stringy. That has been the case this year, although the courgettes seem to be pretty much OK, albeit not as plentiful as in previous years.

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