The last few weeks are always packed with sports days, drama performances, musical soirees, summer fairs, prize-giving, induction days and leaving parties. Whilst keeping up with all the kids activities, I have also been desperately trying to get ahead with work, so that I have more free time in the holidays. So by 9pm I am then left deciding whether to go to the allotment and water the plants or write my blog. Sorry, but the allotment won - mainly because of all the ripe strawberries that needed picking :-)
The strawberries only lasted a few weeks, in which time we had strawberries and cream or Eton mess most days.
For the first time ever I made 5 jars of strawberry jam (thanks to a really simple recipe from notjustgreenfingers again). It looked so amazing as I cooked it that I had to take photos! I also had enough strawberries to freeze 4 punnets and gave another 6 punnets to friends and neighbours.
Now the raspberries in my garden are in full swing, and there are a few at the allotment too, along with redcurrants, blueberries and blackcurrants that are just ripening. They are not great at the allotment, because I have neglected the fruit bushes which are now competing with the weeds, but hopefully I will get on top of the weeds over the summer.
Above is as far as I got with weeding the raspberry canes in the spring. The picture below gives an idea of how overgrown they are now, just on the right of the photo.
I have realised that I need a completely different approach to the allotment than I do with my garden. I have a small, sheltered growing space in my garden, so I only need to grow a few plants to fill it. If I sow just a few seeds most of them will grow and mature, so that I have plenty. Plus I am out there several times a day and it is easy to spot if something needs attention or to pull the odd weed as it grows. On the other hand the allotment plot gives me 4 times the space in a big, open allotment area, where pests, diseases and weeds spread easily. Young plants don't stand much of a chance. Even if you try to protect them from the pigeons and slugs that will devour any fresh green shoots.
I need to change my way of thinking from just sowing a few, to planting double of everything. Where I would sow 2 runner beans to a pole, I need to sow 4, just to ensure something survives, and then have backups growing at home in pots just in case. I still have too many bare spaces, so I need to become better at planning so that all my soil is covered in plants, leaving less opportunities for weeds to take over. And I need more propagating space at home as I haven't grown enough. I am kind of working these things out the hard way.
There have been so many things to write about over the last month, and no time. I spotted this article back in June which is worth a discussion. I have another Eco-house to write about, books to discuss and news on my PV panels. Hopefully I will catch up soon. In the meantime I hope you are enjoying a summer of strawberries ;-)