HERE'S the latest column from our allotment columnist Sean O’Dobhain, from Cwmbran
PLOT holders are really beginning to reap the rewards for all their efforts. Harvests are coming thick and fast now; one of my favourites are new potatoes.
Sure, the plants don’t produce as many spuds as main-crop varieties but that freshly dug, creamy taste makes early potatoes worth all the effort.
While it’s better to dig them up as you need them for the sake of flavour, you might consider clearing the whole bed at once and replanting with another crop to make the most of your plot.
Salads should be cropping well now too; I’ve been picking Iceburg lettuce for some weeks along with frilly Lollo Rossa.
Radish, salad leaves, rocket and spring onions should be taken when required but remember to keep sowing more salads for successional cropping throughout the summer.
Over-wintered or early spring sown broad beans will be available this month. My first crop of Sutton broad beans are being harvested and I’ve just sown another few rows of Bunyard’s Exhibition broad beans in an attempt to get another crop in the autumn.
There’s also plenty of fruit available, gooseberries, early raspberries, loads of rhubarb and, most people’s favourite, delicious strawberries.
The seed catalogues usually list fruit as ‘early’, ‘mid’ or ‘late season’ and it’s worth buying a selection when planting out a fruit bed to get the maximum cropping period.
June is not all about eating the fruits of one’s labour; there’s still planting to be done. It’s time to get the squashes out on the plot.
Summer squashes like courgettes and patty pans are eaten as soon as they are ready. Winter squashes like butternuts and pumpkins will be ready in the autumn and will store, if kept properly, well into the new year.
While courgette plants are bush-like, most other squashes grow on trailing vines and it can be difficult to see where the plant is anchored in the earth.
This year I've buried an upturned plastic bottle with the bottom cut off next to each trailing squash. These homemade funnels will ensure that water and liquid feed go directly to the roots of each plant and will help protect against stem rot to which most squashes are prone. I’ve planted Sweet Dumpling mini-squashes, Hunter F1 Butternuts, Black Beauty courgettes and a couple of Jack O’Lantern pumpkins.
My sweet corn, Incredible F1, have really developed well in the deep root trainers, gaining thicker stems than I've seen when raised in pots.
It’s time to plant those out now in blocks which will aid pollination. Leeks raised in trays or in a seed bed need to be planted now too. Separate the leeks into individual plants, make a 15cm hole with a thick dibber and drop the leek in. Don’t back fill, just water into the hole.
Due to the appearance of leek moth in recent years, I now have to protect my leeks with enviromesh or fleece.
Other allotment jobs for June:
• Keep on top of the weeds by hoeing regularly. Cover problem areas of the plot with black plastic.
• If you haven’t raised your own squash or leeks, buy some plants in from a garden centre.
• Continue to sow salad crops every three weeks for successional cropping.
• Plant a pumpkin now, it will be ready to carve by Halloween.
• Familiarize yourself with the male and female squash flowers, the males have longer stems and the females have the embryonic fruit behind the petals. You can help pollination by brushing a male flower against the female flowers.