Your summer allotment checklist

Nick Moyle and Rich Hood

Here are the things you need to be doing to ace your vegetable patch this summer

As we move through the summer months, bathed in sun lotion and fighting the insects who think it might make you an even tastier prospect, allotments and veg plots up and down the land are in full growing swing.

Jobs tend to involve a relentless cycle of weeding and watering along with much squeezing and poking of fruit and veg to see if its ready to harvest. But there are a few other tasks you might wish to carry out to glean maximum satisfaction from your patch, and here are five of them…

 

Get busy with brassicas

It’s easy to forget during the summer maintenance, but you need to consider what will be growing in your plot throughout winter for a spring harvest.

Top of the list is brássicas—spring cabbages, broccoli and kale can all be sown now in pots and trays ready for planting out later in the year while Japanese onions can be sown directly in the ground.

 

Free strawberries

By August your strawberry plants will have likely sent out a few runners which are beginning to take root.

These new offspring will offer much better crops than tired old strawberry plants so look after them by planting them up in your strawberry bed. And if you’ve had your strawberries in the same place for three years or more then you’re better off digging up the patch and giving those new plants a home in a different location.

 

Look after your fruit trees

The fruit gardener can be kept quite busy during the summer months while waiting for apples, plums and pears to ripen.

Fruit trees may need a bit of extra support if they’re being weighed down with heavy yields and on younger trees you may even wish to thin the fruits out a bit to avoid branches snapping. And don’t forget to weed around the base of trees too.

If you’ve got trees in your lawn then clear away the surrounding grass and replace with a layer of mulch—wood chippings or compost will help retain moisture, keep further weeds at bay and give the trees a health boost.

 

Consider a feed

Although water is the most vital thing you can give to your plants, most will also benefit from a feed of nutrients.

Greenhouse favourites tomatoes, peppers and chillis are particularly grateful for some extra nourishment to help their fruits swell, as are cucurbits such as courgettes and squash.

Garden centres are rammed with all sorts of products aimed at improving yields whilst emptying your purse, so just get what you can afford and remember, providing you set your plants off in decent soil or compost, you’ll still get decent rewards if you leave them to get on growing without the optional extras.

 

Mind the gaps

As summer progresses you will likely see a few gaps appear on your plot as produce is harvested. For those who want to maximise every last bit of space it’s useful to have a few filler crops up your sleeve.

Quick growing salad leaves such as rocket are a popular choice but we’re always impressed with broccoli raab, a relation to the turnip that looks more like broccoli and can go from sowing to picking in under eight weeks.

It’s not a fan of the mid-summer heat so wait for temperatures to cool then get sowing for a quick and easy tasty veg.