On The Path To The Allotment ~ Too Hot On The Plot

It was nearly 7 pm last night when I finally thought it might be cool enough to head up the field to the allotment. In places, the nettles and grasses are leaning over the path at ear-height, and the nettle stings can be vicious, even through clothing. At one point the makeshift path alongside the rapeseed crop all but disappears, and it’s a question of remembering to turn left at the opium poppy, which was fine when it was flowering redly, but not so easy to spot now it’s gone to seed. I’m beginning to think I need to go out armed with a machete. Also the ground beneath my feet is so unyielding, it is difficult to walk on; baked into unexpected ridges and contours that are hard to navigate when you can’t see the way ahead. Who would have thought going gardening could be so challenging.

Of course, I had to stop to take this photo, the sun shining through the allotment boundary hedge.

On the plot I have been trying to shelter the plants’ roots with whatever vegetation I can find up there: comfrey, horseradish leaves, even rhubarb leaves. I’m now eyeing up the goat willow tree on the neighbouring abandoned plot, thinking a little prune of its leathery foliage might make some useful shading material.

So far things are surviving – apart from the strawberries that is, and the broad beans which produced a half-hearted crop and then fainted away. The most astonishing success, at least so far, is the sweet corn. It just keeps on growing, and with scarcely any watering, which is very strange for sweet corn. I bought the seedlings by post after the seeds of my own first sowing rotted. They were tiny when I planted them out in May – no more than a hand’s width tall. Now look at them.



They cost £2 for 20 from Delfland Nurseries which probably works out cheaper than growing them yourself from seed, and certainly cuts out the faff. I also bought some of their Iznik mini cucumber seedlings, which are now producing well in the polytunnel. The fruits are about 4 inches long when ready to pick, and delicious. The best thing is you eat the whole thing at one go, so no more squishy-cucumber-end discoveries in the fridge.


The Black Russian tomatoes are busy fattening in the next door bed. They are now one of our favourite tomato varieties, under-sown here with dill.



Outside, the runner beans are struggling to get up their sticks, but we’ve had our first good picking of the climbing Alderman peas. These peas are supposed to continue cropping over the season, but I’m not sure that this will happen with four more weeks of drought and heat promised. I have just planted out another lot, sown for quick germination in lengths of plastic gutter, and I shall definitely grow them again next year.

We’ve been told there is a ‘world shortage’ of lettuce in UK supermarkets. It doesn’t germinate well in heat. I have grown some of my own, but I was also very pleased that I bought a tray of ‘living salad’ lettuce from Waitrose. It was intended for cutting fresh into one’s sandwich, but I planted out the seedlings instead, outside covered with fleece and also in the polytunnel. So far it’s doing well. I reckon there were about 50 seedlings in the tray, several different varieties, so plenty of lettuce to share with neighbours.

Now for some more hot-plot shots.







One unforeseen circumstance of the hot weather is that my piled-high compost heaps are bone dry, and are therefore doing very little rotting down. While I don’t feel I can help them along by actually watering them, I have heard that the addition of urine is very beneficial, and since most of the allotmenteers are chaps, it has occurred to me to put up ‘please pee here’ signs. All deposits gratefully received.


copyright 2018 Tish Farrell

57 thoughts on “On The Path To The Allotment ~ Too Hot On The Plot

      1. this is an interesting factoid – that the urine could help….
        and when I used to scuba dive – they said to pee in the wet suit if there was ever sea lice – never had to do it – but when I told stories to my bio lab students (in late 1990s) it was funny how that “pee story” always stood out to them – years later they would sometimes comment on it.

  1. Wonderful photographs, especially that header picture. It is hot here, but I heard from my son who lives on a farm in Pennsylvania…and it’s forecast to be 110. F there today!! Very hot for them as well. I am off to Wales on Friday and the good weather is forecast to continue. Enjoy 🙂

  2. With the wind chill factor, temperatures hit -5c last night up here at our spot. Just a tad nippy as you can imagine. Surprisingly no frost.
    My cabbages seem all right but nothing else is!

      1. The temp often drops below zero, but minus five is fair nippy!
        The wind does that and you can see what it did to one of the trees.

  3. To b e on the dry side everything looks great. We did get rain yesterday and I think I hear so possibly coming in now. We have been sort of dry. Showers just seem to skirt around us so we are thankful for what we get.

  4. it’s very hot here too. VERY hot. Very humid. My least favorite weather. The garden is dry too, but we don’t water. We have a well and flowers are lovely, but they have to make it on their own. We are told there will be rain on Thursday. I hope so. The woods must be all kindling by now.

  5. Cracking up over yet thought of “Please Pee Here” signs!

    Your lead photo is lovely! The hedge is not an indicator of what lies beyond – all that greenery & growth despite the fierce heat! Here’s hoping you some rain soon!

  6. Oh, do put up the signs!!! So sad to see a garden wilt, but yours doesn’t seem to be very good at it. I love the thought of turning left at the opium poppy – sounds like something out of a grown up “Lion, witch and wardrobe”.

    1. Last night I was checking one of the raised beds that I’d covered with horticultural fleece – not something I usually use in high summer. I.e. I thought I’d better check what was going on underneath it. I was amazed how wonderfully huge the lettuce and beetroot had grown, even seedlings had hatched, and the soil was pretty dry. So that was worth knowing. Fleece the whole plot!

      1. No. White thin sheets of stuff a bit like fine interfacing for sewing, made of man-made fibres that you lay over veggies – usually to keep out the cold.

  7. I smiled at your solution for your dry compost Tish. I was house keeper for a bloke in Sussex for a while who insisted on peeing on the lemon tree every morning. It was a very healthy and productive tree too. Your Veges are remarkably green and healthy considering your hot, dry weather. Somehow drought and England do not seem to match up…

  8. Pee or no pee, your garden seems to be doing very well. If the local blokes are shy of watering the compost perhaps you could persuade a dog to walk to the allotment with you and do pee duty.

  9. I don’t envy you the heat Tish; and not just because it makes the garden much harder work. But you are working wonders under the circumstances. I like the idea of a “pee here” sign, but I have very strong olfactory memories of a particularly hot English summer during the time I was working in an office tucked away down a lane. It seemed to be an overnight gathering point (or just a loo) for the local homeless people. Hopefully the compost would absorb the smell as well as the fluid.

      1. Some old tarps to cover them maybe? Not bonny, but it might work. Or how about some heavy curtains if you could get some from a charity shop? Floral ones might add a certain post-modern aesthetic.

  10. When I grow up, I want to write as beautifully as you do. Your words transported me from the sea to your side walking along in your allotment. Your garden became the most magical place on the planet, one that I wanted to dwell in for hours. Oh to be able to paint such vivid pictures with words #jealous. And then there are the photos. Every one of them made me feel ‘land’envy’ although I don’t know if I would be as envious if I walked out of your garden and over to the Waitrose to experience the ‘world lettuce’ shortage. So I will stay in your garden awhile longer and dream of the taste of sweet corn drizzled in butter and salt once it is harvested.

    1. You are such a welcome visitor to my garden, Lisa. And you already to do write very beautifully. A mutual transportation then – your world and mine shared back and forth across the world.

      1. Lucky for us we have a portal between our homes on the internet. And maybe we will have the good fortune to walk together in your place and/or mine someday. Thank you for your generous compliment on my writing. I’ve been enjoying yours so much that I just bought a copy of ‘Losing Kui’ to delight in as I make my way to Africa. Sadly, Kenya doesn’t look like it will make our lists of ports this time around but who knows what the future holds

      2. How very lovely of you to buy my little book. Thank you. I do hope you enjoy the read. It would indeed be good to step into the same space one day. Will you call in at all on the East Africa seaboard?

      3. 🤗😘 We may call in at Mozambique but that is doubtful. Some in the fleet are spending the cyclone season in Tanzania with plans to continue on next year.

      4. Tanzania sounds good. Zanzibar! A long time ago Graham did VSO in Tanzania for 2 years – equivalent of your Peace Corps. There are great wildlife parks there of course.

      5. How lucky is he to have landed a spot in Tanzania? I think I mentioned that The Captain also lived there for two years photographing wild life while his ex ran an NGO. They loved it there 🦏🦓🦒

  11. Haha, Tish – I wonna see that sign “Please pee here.” 🙂 Oh, the challenges of gardening during chaotic weather times. We had a month of rain during planting season; on top of that, too many bunnies and chipmunks helped themselves to the veggies I managed to plant. No brassicas this year, but my corn is doing well, also. Each year has different challenges. I think our gardens teach us to go with the flow, adapt to reality instead of fighting it…an honest challenge for me 🙂

    1. Well you’ve made me very grateful that I don’t also have bunnies and chipmunks, Annette. You are too right about the ongoing learning challenge. And learning to yield to circumstances. But there can be be pluses to the minuses. Last night I was frowning at some very slow-growing peas, only to notice a small row of self-seeded chard in the spaces between the plants. That cheered me up – maybe no peas, but will have unexpected chard (orange stems too), which I often have problems germinating. My garden is also teaching me that I need to get ahead of need with the compost, which could mean a full-time profession. I need to find a man with a very big shredder 🙂

  12. Unfortunately, human pee these days doesn’t come’ guaranteed organic’ …I agree, it’s a great idea, but perhaps, ahem, decant, some of your own into a suitable container and use that.. 🙂

  13. What an invigorating and refreshing visit to your garden. The vegetation is very attractive. But that first picture above is magnificent.

  14. Wow, I wasn’t aware of the drought in your part of the world. Despite this, your garden looks lovely. Hopefully some will take you up on the pee request.

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