Sunday, 19 September 2010

September Seeds...

With September now getting chillier by the day, it's time to start clearing up the allotment and sorting out seeds for next year. My runner bean plants are still providing me with a handful of runner beans each visit, but there are many pods that have shrivelled up and turned brown and papery.

However, this is all according to plan, since these pods will now contain seeds...

Monday, 13 September 2010

On The Cusp Of Autumn...

The English gardener needs no overt sign that summer is on the wan; indeed, there exists a multitude of subtle signs indicating that the garden is now slowing down as it prepares for autumn and the long days of winter.

The vivid burst and flourish of summer activity, only weeks old in the memory, has now given way to the turning of leaves, gloomier evenings and colder mornings. Indeed, as I went for a stroll along the Thames on my lunch break today, I did so amongst a sprinkling of conkers, their polished surfaces gleaming radiantly like a waxed wooden table.

So how is the London Vegetable Garden allotment at this poignant time? A time when we are undoubtedly on the very cusp of autumn, yet still entertain the odd few days of warmth and sun?

Well, the runner beans are still cropping, but are undoubtedly on their way out. Some of the leaves are turning yellow and crinkling up, although the plants continue to produce an array of little beans, all struggling to reach maturity.

The onions have now all been harvested and dried out – indeed, the majority have even been enjoyed in cooking! The cucumber plants seem to have offered up the last of their fruits, whilst the courgette plants too seem to be succumbing to leaf mildew and look tired.

I have a few beetroots too, following the plants that arrived from Rocket Gardens. I'm looking for different ways to cook and eat these vegetables, so if anyone has any beetroot tips, please leave them as a comment on this post!

The tomatoes though, remain one last bastion of allotment action this year. Followers of the London Vegetable Garden on Facebook will no doubt have noticed that I have enjoyed a steady and abundant crop of tomatoes from the three shop-bought plants. However, my seed-grown windowsill tomatoes are finally starting to turn, with a few of the 'Tigrella' fruits now a promising orange upon my visit to the allotment this evening.

Many tomatoes have succumbed to splitting, with ants and slugs seizing the natural feast that this phenomenon naturally produces. But I still have a healthy crop of around fifteen tomato plants of differing species, all of which stand there laden with appetising fruit, just waiting to turn to glorious colour.

Hopefully I will be enjoying these fruits over the coming fortnight, before October puts paid to their progress once and for all!

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Tomato Troubles!

One of the things I learnt from growing tomatoes on my balcony last year was that they need constant care and attention. I took a lot of time on my tomatoes last year, which resulted in a productive period of cropping on the London Vegetable Garden balcony!

Now that the London Vegetable Garden has moved to an allotment, my tomato growing of 2010 has been a very different experience entirely. I started off in the spring by planting some baby plants which I had purchased in the nearby garden centre. These have grown and trusses are swelling, laden with green tomatoes that are just waiting to ripen.

I have also grown tomato plants from seed back home on the windowsill. These plants were then transplanted to the London Vegetable Garden allotment when they were big enough. All in all, I have around six different varieties of tomato to enjoy this year, of which so far my girlfriend and I have been enjoying 'Golden Sweet'.

However, this year's weather has proven rather problematic for many tomato growers, including my mum and myself! The rapid changes in temperature cause the tomatoes to swell or contract, which causes many of them to split. Once they have split, they are susceptible to attack from pests, or simply drying up and decay:

Luckily, this is only affecting a handful of my tomatoes, so I still have plenty of intact fruits waiting to ripen:
I wanted to document this problem as I'm sure urban gardeners nation-wide are experiencing the same trouble with tomatoes that aren't in a greenhouse. Is anyone else in the same boat? Does anyone have any tips on how to decrease the amount of split tomatoes on the allotment?


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