Lost the plot

Dark clouds over allotment

I don’t think I’ve written about the allotment yet this year. I’ll be totally honest, this month has felt like a bit of a struggle. Rain has bought a relentless wave of slugs, garlic rust and weeds. To top it off, I fell off my bike three weeks ago which has mean’t we haven’t been able to do any serious work on our plot. Our enthusiasm has been waning and we’ve spoken about how we’d feel if we gave it up. But we’ve decided this feeling is just down to June being a crappy month for us. And just when our spirits hit a low we were rewarded with a crazy amount of strawberries, garlic, chard and a marrow. The beans have suddenly flowered and the potatoes are almost ready. When I look at how far our plot has come on in a year and a half I feel an enormous sense of pride  — even if it is a bit rough around the edges. I think the reality is that growing your own food is fun but hard work. And as with anything that’s hard work, sometimes you just want to give up. I’ve painted a bit of a bleak picture but I promise it’s not all bad 🙂

Scott under the fruit netting, picking strawberries. I like harvesting fruit because it’s something we do it together. Quite often at the allotment we split strategies so we can tackle more jobs while we’re there.

Picking inside fruit net

Fruit net

Strawberry picking

Strawberry picking

Every time we go picking I do a weigh in and add the figure to a spreadsheet before storing them. So far we’ve picked a whopping 9kg! And that figure doesn’t include all the strawberries we’ve lost to slugs. Picking so many has forced me to get creative with preserving; I’ve made cordial and sorbet as well as strawberry and vanilla jam.

Homegrown strawberries

Homegrown strawberries

The runner beans are flowering after a shaky start with slug damage. And the borlotti beans aren’t far behind.

Young runner bean leaves

Runner bean leaves

We have blueberries, although not as many as last year. I forgot to prune the bushes.

Green blueberries

Blueberries

A plot owner told us one of the plots at the end of the allotment was going to be rotivated ready for a new owner and to help ourself to raspberry canes. I dug three up and planted them in our fruit patch. The hot weather came and they struggled. But look — a raspberry! There are a few so I’m hoping they’ll recover from the shock of being moved when they shouldn’t have been and produce some nice fruit.

Green raspberry

Raspberry

Rhubarb in sun

Rhubarb

I use our rhubarb to make some rhubarb and strawberry cordial. Isn’t the colour amazing!?

Bright red strawberry cordial

Rhubarb and strawberry cordial

Look at our tiny tiny cucumber! We’ve never grown cucumbers before so if you have any tips I’d love to hear them.

Tiny cucumber with flower

Tiny cucumber

Large marrow

Homegrown marrow

Potato flowers mean a harvest is not long away now. Hopefully they’ll be whoppers after all the rain we’ve had this month.

White potato flower

Potato flowers

Pansies in the sun

Pansies

And that sums up June on our plot. Soon our bellies will be full of homegrown food and I’m preying for a bean glut so I can make runner bean chutney again. Has anyone been struggling with anything I listed above, whether in your garden or at the allotment?

14 Comments

  1. Nine kilos of strawberries! Bliss. I always admire everyone who has an allotment or amazing vegetable and fruit garden because it does involve so much work,

    • It is a lot of work but as soon as you harvest your first food, it’s all totally worth it!

  2. It would be such a shame for you to give up your allotment, you have grown so much fantastic fruit and veg and made some very delicious things from them, which we have enjoyed helping you to eat????

    • I think it’s unlikely we will. The thought is probably just the result of a gloomy month. As soon as we harvest more food I feel like I don’t want to give it up. We might need you help eating all the beans again this year 😉

  3. Oh my goodness what a glut of strawberries – and they all look so perfect too! We have lost so many of ours to tiny weeny slugs, so you have been very fortunate there. I think gardens can you get you a bit like that in terms of thinking about stopping with the plot – but from the way you’ve written you have reignited your love for it. Can’t wait to see your crop of potatoes. xx #HDYGG

    • So have we! It’s horrible when you go to pick one and stick your finger in a soggy patch made by a slug. Yuck. Should be able to harvest our potatoes in the next couple of weeks, yippeeee!

  4. Holy Strawberries Batman!
    Now crappy-June has passed you are due a Jolly-July. What a bounty you have there, it’s good to hear that you are getting back out and about a bit now after the accident.
    I know what the smart money is on in the case of a zombie attack – that marrow!

    Muchos love bacon one x

    • The marrow would make an excellent weapon in the event of a zombie attack — the one we picked weighed a tonne. Yes, onto Jolly-July and all the food it will bring (providing the slugs don’t get there first).

  5. Oh your plot looks great! I agree June has been terrible, we have suffered the same and it seems unmanageable sometimes especially with the weeds. I love the cordial it looks amazing!

    • Other plot owners have been complaining too, so at least it’s not just us that are overwhelmed. The cordial is delicious, definitely try it if you need another way to use up strawberries.

  6. I think as fruit trees suffer from June drop so do allotmenteers spirits! The weeds and rain have got me down a bit recently but coming back with a basket full of raspberries, lettuce and broad beans definitely makes it worthwhile.

    • I had no idea fruit trees suffered from June drop but after looking it up, that explains why our apple tree shed so many little fruits. So thanks!

  7. Hello Gemma, so lovely to discover your blog. Your strawberry haul is astonishing, I’m in absolute awe! I think the weather over the last month has a lot to answer for your loss of enthusiasm, but really what an incredible space and incredible harvest! You could never give it up surely!? I’ll be watching to see how your summer progresses…

    • Thanks so much Clare 🙂 I think giving up the plot would be a very tough decision indeed — I couldn’t easily walk away from all this lovely fresh food. We have been spoilt rotten with all the strawberries!

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