As the sea­son slows, Terry Wal­ton ad­mires his plot

Au­gust is a time to just en­joy the plot... but I still have a few jobs to do

Garden News (UK) - - Contents - TERRY WAL­TON

Watch out – Au­gust’s here! The eighth month is a re­lax­ing time on the al­lot­ment and one of im­mense plea­sure as crops are har­vest­ing well. Ten­der young plants have turned into adults and are flour­ish­ing. They’ll soon reach old age, de­cline in pro­duc­tiv­ity and slowly fade away.

There are also tell-tale signs the sea­son is draw­ing to a close, as there are bare ar­eas of soil on the plot. This has been un­heard of for weeks – as one crop re­lin­quished its space an­other quickly jumped into its bed! But days are short­en­ing and nights cool­ing and I won’t be able to sow much more.

It’s time, how­ever, to look for­ward to some sow­ings in con­tain­ers near the green­house door, which can be brought into the green­house in early au­tumn when space is freed up at the end of the to­mato and cu­cum­ber grow­ing cy­cle. I sow some car­rots and spring onions in pots – these will grow on in late au­tumn to give a fresh taste to my De­cem­ber plate. The bare ar­eas of soil can be turned over now and given a week or two of rest and relaxation be­fore they’re coated with some green ma­nure seeds, which will car­pet them through the deep days of win­ter. The toma­toes have been very pro­duc­tive in this long, hot sum­mer, but as Au­gust cools some of the trusses of green toma­toes are slow in their ripen­ing. Still twice weekly feed­ing and wa­ter­ing reg­u­larly when needed hasn’t sped up the red­den­ing, so it’s a trip to the su­per­mar­ket to pick up a cheap bag of over-ripe ba­nanas! These are, of course, not for me to eat, but will be draped over the trusses of green toma­toes. Over­ripe ba­nanas emit eth­yl­ene gas, which speeds up the ripen­ing. This has al­ways worked for me in the past, so fin­gers crossed.

This hot, dry sum­mer has made my sup­ply of let­tuce a headache. They don’t ger­mi­nate well in high tem­per­a­tures and I’ve had to re­sort to sow­ing them in a cool place be­fore trans­fer­ring them to the green­house to grow on into lit­tle plants. Plant­ing them out in­volved co­pi­ous amounts of wa­ter­ing, and even then they didn’t hold long in the soil be­fore bolt­ing! The bucket of cut-and-comea­gain leaves have been my saviour and kept me go­ing when large, red ‘Ice­berg’ let­tuces were in short sup­ply.

As the hu­mid­ity rises it’s the time that fun­gal dis­eases thrive. Pota­toes fall foul of blight very eas­ily and black blotches on leaves are the first sign. Cut off those leaves and dis­card them well away from the plot.

It’s that time of year when I can turn over bare ar­eas of soil – the sea­son must be on its way out!

Pop a few ripe ba­nanas among your toma­toes

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