Chelsea, Chatsworth and Malvern have come and gone, as has Bloom in the Park, and gone too are all those plans we had at the beginning of the month to make postings on all the aforementioned festivals and events. June arrived and on its tails came the air of summer with all its latent promise: warm bright days, summer festivals, ál fresco lunches in short-sleeves and daily blight warnings.
We’ve made busy on The Monster in the Corner, so much so we actually lost ourselves in the doing of things on the plot, and it is only now that we have all things bedded, supported, weeded and netted that we have the time to recap and sketch out the late summer and autumn plans and finally post them here.
All of the plot’s beds are flourishing: the gladiator parsnips are growing very well and now that we’re at mid-summers the Centurion and Stuttgarter onions are finally beginning to bulb but, as expected, about one in six has bolted. The Karmen reds, not surprisingly, are still lagging behind but all the summer bunching and salad onion are now ready for use. We’ve been pulling rhubarb stalks on each visit to the allotment and have jammed and jarred the first flush glut with some finely grated stem ginger. This store never lasts very long as it’s generally shared with extended family, friends and work colleagues, but the Victoria stools seem to be sprouting well enough yet and we should have ample for further desserts, crumbles and that second flush glut for more jam.
The shallot tips are beginning to colour down so these shall be rudely unearthed in the next fortnight or so. A great deal of effort the last 3 weeks has been spent battling the squirrels, blackbirds and magpies for ownership our rapidly ripening blackcurrants and gooseberries. We’ve always acknowledged foregoing nature’s share, but there’s only so much we’ll allow the wildlife to covet.
Having decided against a strawberry crop the last three summer seasons this year we planted up a small bed of 20 plants (a new variety called Malling Centenary) and we’ve had some of these. As with all first year crowns, the pickings were slim, but the berries themselves are of a very good size with that great taste of summer…
The early sown radishes, lettuces and rocket have gone over, so we’ve made more sowing for later in the summer, and the first beetroot sowing is just about ready for some baby-beet pickings. The Broad beans were well and truly walloped with black-fly, and on more than one occasion, this no doubt down to the warm and humid conditions which proliferates their spread, but that said we have fared better than the other plot holders across the walled garden whose potato crops have all been badly decimated with blight. The red Kale sown in May has now been planted into the open drills, as have the pumpkin and ornamental courgette plants, and as usual the herb and floral border which is one of the main focal points of the Monster in the Corner is once again in full bloom and generating the annual conversation piece with the passers-by.
We’ve decided to change the Monster’s ‘rude mechanical’ this year. Since first beginning work on the allotment our ‘play’ has been a large chestnut log with bug hotel and carved wooden plot number in situ. But given the effects of three wet and stormy winters it was looking a little forlorn. This year we’ve gone for a spilled-barrow effect; a living mechanical if you will, the Monster’s designation and number in living floral form. Originally conceived in red, white and blue– giving a nod to the EURO’s 2016 event in France- we’ve adapted a little at the last minute to facilitate incorporating another of the elements of the walled garden into the design, and with a little luck we should be putting the finishing touches to it over this coming weekend.
Madame dirtdigger is somewhat incapacitated at present, but there’s no slackening-off with this particular one armed weeder & feeder; still showing up for plot duty, still making the most of the weather, and reminding me that as of today the days are no longer stretching. Today, and for another day or so, the season’s daylight is fully taut. Midsummer’s mindfulness abounds, filled with birdsong dawns and those slow receding half-light dusks stretching almost to midnight; young starlings learning the principles of murmuration formation flying and beech nuts and hazel nuts now setting on the branches; cosmos, lilies and lupins beginning to open; sunflowers reaching into the broad light with basil and coriander pots scenting the plot and the outdoor courgettes showing signs of bloom…and to top it all off, great sporting nights like last night that will live long in the memory as the low lying fields of Athenry worm their way into the French psyche’s association with the Green Army…COYBIG