The monsoon season continues on our hillside and last week this was capped by twenty seven hours of continual rain. The one good point about all this water falling from the sky is that the water butts are all full. Most crops are perfectly at home in these downpours, but the courgettes and squashes have had their fill and are just sitting there looking distinctly unhappy and waiting for some sunshine.
The tomatoes in the greenhouse are immune from the wet and are laden with green fruits. All that is needed is some sunshine and extra heat and they might start going red. Then what will happen is there will be an autumn glut.
Still life goes on, on the allotment and there is the continual running for cover as the showers begin. Thank heavens for sheds and greenhouses, and especially for the ones with stoves and coffee-making facilities. It is a far more comfortable affair waiting for the rain to stop while holding a cup of coffee and munching a chocolate biscuit. It seems almost a shame to go back out on the plot when the rain stops.
August is the bread basket month on the plot, as almost every crop tries to outdo its neighbour in producing a bumper harvest. There is a wide variety of vegetables on the way to our home and when I arrive with many carrier bags I know I have exceeded my wife’s expectations when she exclaims ‘what am I going to do with all these vegetables?’ Nevertheless, they all seem to go - even if family and neighbours have to help out.
It is, however, strange this season, when potatoes have fallen foul of the wet weather and have been harvested ahead of schedule, that large swathes of ground are already empty. These vegetables take up most of my soil and some should still be there until at least September.
The runner beans seem to have taken an age to produce their first crop but these tasty beans are cropping well and will make many a splendid meal. The freezer bags are at the ready and soon my winter stock will be laid to feed us in more barren times. The runner bean season is going to be a fast and furious one.
There is one vegetable that I have been urging on to be ready and at last I have some full pods of peas to pop. These are my ‘elevenses’ when working on the plot and there is nothing more tasty than peas popped and eaten straight from the plant. The plot gets littered with these empty pods where I have carried out most of the morning's work. Most of this harvest often fails to reach our dinner plate as they taste better uncooked and fresh.
It is not only us gardeners that have suffered during this disappointing season of wet weather, our migrant swifts are already leaving these shores fed up with the wet. It has been evident to all outdoor people that flying insects have been noticeably absent this year. This lack of fresh food has been disastrous for most insect-eating birds and none more so than the swift. There has been a poor breeding season for those swoopers of the sky and many unhatched eggs have been pushed out of the nest as these birds are barely able to feed themselves let alone a batch of young. Also many of the adult birds could well perish on their migratory trip back due to being underweight.
The wet weather has, however, suited the frogs and toads and I have been taken aback on several occasions on my plot recently, while harvesting leaf vegetables, by the sudden leap of a frog. They are relishing the damp conditions and are busy feeding themselves on slugs that are also lurking in the same damp vegetation. So this wet weather has not been all bad for some species.
There are signs of some tired growth in some of the trees that surround my plot as this once lush green growth is showing tinges of autumn shades. Look around you, am I not the only one to notice these subtle changes?
Join the discussion on Saga Zone
Chat with other allotmenteers on Saga Zone forums.