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
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