A runner bean or a vaulting bean?
The Olympics may be underway and so those sporty gardeners among us will be spending more time in front of our television screens cheering on the British contingent. But beware, for those weeds are sprinters too and will soon run amok among your vegetables if left for too long. So get up early and attack them before the midday sun and leave them to shrivel in the heat.
Thinking about the vegetables we grow, which would be successful at the various sports? The long distance marathon runner would be the parsnip, which takes over a year from sowing before the last one is harvested. That needs lots of stamina!
The runner bean would excel at the pole vault as it is used to running up a long pole and climbing great heights. OK, it might take a while to reach the top but its harvests are worth the wait.
The 100-metres sprinters from the vegetable family would be the radish which can produce a crop for the table within a few short weeks. This, along with salad leaf lettuce, would soon be out of the blocks and rushing headlong down the straight and onto the plate. The star of the badminton court could be the celeriac, which is the perfect shape to be shot back and forth over the net.
The pumpkin could star on the role of shot putt as it swells into that massive heavy ball. Some pumpkins I have grown in the past would make any athlete struggle to lift it, let alone throw. There has been many a leek grown that would serve well as that javelin and its long slender shape would be suited to these vegetable games.
Many a vegetable showman would swap the gold medal for that red card which signifies the winner in show circles. But before I finish on this topic, what would be your Olympic vegetable?
Back on my allotments, this recent spate of very hot weather has transformed the plot and boy do those crops look a lot happier now. The tomatoes in the greenhouse have started to get sunburnt and their skins are blushing red so at last some are ready to be picked for my salads. The cucumbers have run wild and are stretching across the roof of the greenhouse and are being picked by the handful.
There are, however, many distraught gardeners on the allotment as blight, the potato grower's worst nightmare, has appeared. The humidity is high and the temperatures have risen, creating the perfect conditions for these airborne spores to seek out the potato leaves. There is no simple solution to this disease, as many of the fungicides that kept it in check have vanished from the garden centres. I am organic and would never spray anyway, so on the last of my early potages I had to cut off the foliage and bag it up and remove well away from the allotment. The tubers should be fine in the soil but I have to keep a wary eye out for that pesky ground-hiding slug! If it is not one problem it’s another.
Several years ago I grew a variety of main crop potatoes called Sarpo, these were Hungarian potatoes that were resistant to blight despite all other potatoes around them falling foul of this virulent disease. They were, however, not a great tasting potato but I think I will have to forego this taste element in order to beat this disease.
Tomatoes are also members of the same family as potatoes, and outdoor-grown ones are even more susceptible to blight. These need a cover on them to stop the airborne spores reaching their foliage to have any chance of success. Tomatoes grown in a greenhouse are less likely to fall under this disease but good ventilation is essential and I always leave two adjacent windows open at all times to allow an adequate flow of air. Do not keep the greenhouse too wet, as this also increases the risk.
Join the discussion on Saga Zone
Chat with other allotmenteers on Saga Zone forums.