With the much-heralded ‘Barbecue Summer’ finally arrived my efforts have been concentrated on  preventing  the vegetables sizzling in the heat. Demand for the communal hose and water tap is high and I have found myself trying to discover the optimum time to secure its use (rather hit and miss).

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 The allotment in July

Because of this, I have found myself down at the allotment around 6.30 am, and late pm, in order to stake my claim on the water supply.

Deciding to install a water butt on the allotment was one of my better decisions. It means that if, as has been the case even in the very early hours, the water supply is being used I can still deliver refreshment to parched plants. I just have to make sure it is always topped up, so that’s the first job when I secure the water supply.

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 Another successful decision was to use the weed-suppressant sheet and mulch round the plants as much as possible. Not only has this saved a lot of weeding time, it is helping retain moisture in the ground.

With all this sun, and diligent watering, the plot is delivering the goods daily. As you can see from the  pictures, my own personal greengrocery has been providing potatoes, beans, peas, courgettes and pak choi. From ground to plate in under a couple of hours is brilliant, the taste is wonderful and my organic credentials are, I believe, intact.

Having collected the pictured display I tried to calculate how much this would cost to buy from the shops. Obviously this would vary depending on where one purchased the goods but you are looking at fresh and organic, so just do the maths- how much would you pay?

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 How much would you pay?

I have a figure in mind and, over time, I will be adding up what the allotment is yielding in terms of value and comparing it with the outlay for seed and other items such as the weed suppressant sheet- can I reuse and, if so, how many times?. My instinct tells me I should be in the black as far as income and expenditure is concerned. The best thing is that the plot will continue to produce vegetables over the year and into next.

As I write, there are new plants waiting to go into the ground for future harvesting. Because of what I have learned over the past few months I believe I can give them an even better start. There is now the opportunity for better ground preparation, rather than the ‘dig over/get the plants in’ regime I had to follow in the early stages.

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 First potatoes

Not that there is time to relax, the pace of growth- especially the weeds- keeps me occupied and I still haven’t made a start on my ‘rustic’ composter.  There is always plenty to do ( I feel a few more ‘allotment holidays’ are due) but it is greatly rewarding and my fellow allotmenteers are always encouraging and complimentary about what I have achieved over the months. One important task that is being constantly sidelined is recording what has been planted, where, how much was the outlay, difficulties in cultivation and other useful notes in the allotment diary. Not this diary but one I have specifically for writing down all the details of the allotment- at the moment all notes are on scraps of paper but I must find time to enter them in the diary as all information will be invaluable for the future, not just for crop rotation but also for balancing the books.

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 Purple cauliflower

I have not been able to spend as much quality time as I would have liked at the allotment this month so the opportunities for musing, humerous or otherwise, about life have been limited. However, one thought keeps coming to mind and that is how good it is to be surrounded by all this abundance.

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I have had a ‘Gladiator’ moment a few times now- the opening scene of the film where he wonders through a field of barley (?) brushing the stems with his hands as he goes. I do the same with the spuds- before going off to battle the tribe of the bindweed.