The change over the last month on the allotment has been incredible. Where before was bare soil and neat little rows of seedlings there’s now a lush jungle. My sweetcorn plants have turned from squat little tufts of green into strapping great monsters taller than I am and the squashes have grown two feet in a week!
I love July – it’s the moment when you begin to lose control. The surging masses of growth always have their own ideas, however carefully you’ve planned and set out your plantings. Finally, there’s a bit of a break from weeding, as crops bush out and shade the soil.
However, there’s no time to rest on one’s laurels. As the plants get bigger, fruit ripens and the weather gets hotter, the patch becomes ever more reliant on watering. I spend a lot less time watering than my allotment neighbours (and use a lot less water than they do). They’re ‘give it a spray everyday’ kinda guys. I prefer the give it a good soak once or twice a week approach – apart from baby seedlings (for ideas about what you can still sow, see the Late Late Sow blog) – which I water daily using a watering can with a fine rose.
When I water, I water the roots, removing the spray attachment from the hose and allowing a gentle trickle onto the roots. Watering this way is much less wasteful, as the water goes where it’s needed. It also helps keep the weeds down – if you can keep the soil between your crops dry it means many fewer weed seeds will sprout.
The only exception to the ‘occasionally but thoroughly’ rule is tomatoes – they need regular watering as the fruit is prone to splitting if you allow them to dry out then water them heavily.
Also – don’t forget your pots! It never ceases to amaze me how quickly pots, especially small ones, will dry out. If your plants dry out completely, it can be rather difficult to re-wet the compost. Try dunking them in a bucket of water for 10 minutes. I’m feeling dried-out too so I’m off to water the garden and have a beer while I do so. Happy gardening!