|Prunus Victor 2013|
Just when we thought Spring would never arrive, we are suddenly overwhelmed with fruit blossom. Here in London, ornamental cherry trees have flowered so spectacularly over the last couple of weeks that even the most city-hardened of us have been snapping away and indulging in competitive photo postings. The blossom of the edible blossom is now tentatively unfurling along with that of plum, apple and pear. On the allotment, our gooseberry and blackcurrant bushes have finished flowering and bear promising tiny green fruits. From nearby hives, the honey bees, that last week covered the bushes in a frenzy of activity, have moved on to richer pollen pickings. They play a vital role in pollinating our crops, making for greater yields, so it feels good that absolutely nobody uses chemicals here.
|Gooseberry Invicta 2013|
Apart from the currants and berries, which thankfully need little attention, you have to get up close to see signs of the last three weeks of hard work on the allotment Trenches have been dug and both Charlotte and Pink Fir Apple potatoes are planted, carefully spaced to leave plenty of room for each to spread. There they lie, buried so deep it always seems miraculous that the shoots can find their way to the surface. Soon they will appear and before we know it we'll be earthing up the ridges to increase the yield.
The Summer raspberry canes are taking a buffeting in the strong winds today so I'm glad I got round to tying them in on my last visit. The Autumn fruiting variety, Bliss, are sprouting lushly from ground level, reminding me I really should do some more weeding in that bed.
I survey the 8 metre long stretch of alliums and wonder if I got a bit carried away this year. My over-wintering garlic and onion sets were practically wiped out by the cold and wet so I planted like crazy to compensate this Spring. Garlic, shallots and Sturon onion sets all bear little green tufts. As yet, who knows how the Long Red Florence seeds I planted are doing - a little temperamental but well worth the effort.
|Chantenay Carrot 2012|
Carrots and parsnips seeds are planted, though it's to be hoped we won't be digging up carrots quite as convoluted as this one from last year. Clearly we did a very poor job of removing stones in the root vegetable bed. Two sowings of broad beans and peas are growing away nicely. I'm determined not to sow any more. Succession sowing is all well and good but, for taste, early is best for both of these crops. Two types of spinach are growing well - red-stemmed Bordeaux and reliable Dominant. Nothing beats those first few pickings. Too much heat and the Bordeaux in particular will bolt as soon as I turn my back. The first of the beetroot and the Rainbow chard are just beginning to germinate.
|Borlotti Beans 2012|
This year we've planted our climbing beans early. String beans are probably the only vegetable which aren't popular in our household so they definitely don't earn their keep on this allotment. Borlotti beans, on the other hand, are a favourite. Pale green pods turn a thrilling speckled red before they're ready to be picked. Discarding their coats reveals pale green, pink or red/ivory speckled beans. They need plenty of heat and this year I'm determined not to run out of summer before every last one is ready to harvest.
|Courgette Flower 2012|
Soon we'll be planting a seed bed with leeks, Kale and Purple Sprouting broccoli to overwinter. That leaves the courgettes, pumpkins and squash. We'll plant seeds straight into the ground in late May then go into battle with the slugs and snails.
So, the really hard work is done. That is, if you exclude the watering and weeding right through summer and a couple of biodynamic stirrings and sprays. We now have the pleasurable part to look forward to - birdsong, sun on our backs and, weather and bugs permitting, lots of home-grown fruit and vegetables to harvest right through to next Spring. If we're lucky we may see some hollyhocks too. from seeds gathered by the Friends of Arnold Circus. Happy gardening.