Late Summer is usually the last of the hot months and is often dry and sunny . However in some places the late summer can be prone to thunder storms and as a consequence it may tend to be humid and dull providing the perfect conditions for pests and diseases to thrive in.
Weeds continue to grow and as days begin to shorten the burden of weeding and watering and increasing numbers of plants ready for harvest can make this one of the busiest times in the allotment
However my potato crop has been very poor . I planted 4 different varieties at the end of February – 2 earlies (Duke of York; Rocket), 1 second early and one salad (Pink Fir Apple) and I have read in the press that due to the poor levels of sunshine this summer potato farmers have had very poor crops and the costs of potatoes may increase as a result.
I dug all of my potatoes up last weekend and have put them into hessian sacks to dry. Last year I had around 6 1/2 sacks . This year I have probably only two 1/2 sacks.
When you harvest your potatoes be careful to remove all of the tubers , even the very small ones as any left will sprout next year and in addition to being a weed aslo act as a source of disease and potentially potatoe blight spores.It is a good idea to dig over your potatoe plot a few days after you have harvested your crop as small tubers are often uncovered.
It is best to harvest potatoes early in the day, wash any soil off and then leave in a cardboard tray to ensure they dry out thoroghly before storage. Potatoes should be stored in a cool, dark, frost free place such as a garage.It is good practice to use damaged tubers first before they have a chance to rot and spread rot to the rest of the bag. Checking your potatoe sacks every week is also a good idea as the ocassional potatoe may go off and removal is important to prevent rot spreading to the rest of the sack.Slugs also have a habit of appearing as they may have burrowed into a tuber .Putting some slug pellets in each sack is a good way of combatting this problem.
I spent a few hours earlier in the week digging over my potatoe beds and digging in a large amount of leaf mould. I have also purchased 4 different types of green manure to sow later this month- theseare phacellia, crimson clover ,alfalfa and mustard.Some green manures are nitrogen fixing plants which help to fertilize the ground whereas others are used to add to the humus content of the soil,so I have used a combination of both.
Tomatoes also need some attention at this time - sideshoots need to be nipped out to reduce foliage and encourage the growth of tomatoes.Regular watering is essential to ensure the plants are able to receive enough clacium as otherwise blossom end rot can occur. The growth of tomato plants also needs to be stopped at this time by nipping out the growing tip, to maintain the plant at a reasonable size and ensure that the plants energy is put into developing large ripe fruits and not foliage.
My fruit tree crop has been a huge disappointment this year,as I do not have a single apple ,pear, plum or cherry ! I believe this had something to do with the late frosts killing of the flower buds before they had a chance of developing or being pollinated.More worryingly it may have something to do with there being fewer bees around.
My fruit bushes haven’t fared much better - although the raspberries are as a reliable as ever I have no gooseberries , no blackberries, no blackcurrants and hardly any strawberries ! Better success next year.