A DAY ON THE ALLOTMENT
As summer fades and autumn begins to show with the first autumn colour on my saskatoons which have a short season I still find plenty of jobs around. Anna and I decide to have an hour or so on the plot, as the Autumn Bliss raspberries will always produce a decent picking, and it shouldn’t take too long to cut a few vegetables. I thought I was well ahead with most of the seasonal work.
However we were still there four hours later as it is so easy to find numerous wee jobs to do.
We did get quite a few rasps, but also a few brambles from my thornless Helen, a few strawberries from Flamenco and five large sweet figs just ready to eat. So although we had not planned on a long stay we still managed to have our three o’clock coffee break minus the coffee, but with loads of fresh healthy fruit to eat, and just on time the sun decided to appear. Allotment life is no all that bad.
Weather forecasts were giving us a couple of dry days, so I decided to weed the whole plot using my onion hoe. Recent harvesting of crops was very demanding of time so weeding got ignored for the last month. Now was the time to chop them out before they got too big.
While I was weeding Anna cracked on with the fruit picking, then cleared away the old Kelvedon Wonder pea stems and supports as the crop had been picked.
A row of Physalis, the Cape Gooseberry planted against a warm south facing corrugated fence has now grown four feet tall with quite a few lanterns hanging along the stems. We need a warm autumn for these to ripen up, so we hope this brilliant summer continues for a wee bit longer.
Cabbage Kilaton has now hearted up and is ready to harvest. It is a late summer, early autumn cabbage that will keep us going till November when the January King winter cabbage will then be ready.
Nets have kept the pigeons away and collars prevented rootfly maggots. However these collars are perfect hideouts for slugs so pellets are necessary. The variety Kilaton is clubroot resistant so this year it has been a great success. Cabbage white butterflies have had a great year and caterpillars have had to be picked off all cabbage, cauliflowers and sprouts at least once a week.
Spring cabbage April and over wintering spring cauliflower Aalsmeer has established very well from a planting made about six weeks ago, but a few were showing signs of stress. Turns out to be clubroot as none of these are resistant, but I kept plenty of spares so I did a wee bit of replanting.
Beetroot have had a fantastic year and we will have plenty to overwinter as we use a lot of these very healthy vegetables in soups and numerous other dishes. Anna lifted a few to take home together with some Golden Ball turnip, radish, lettuce, kale, Swiss chard and the new salad leaf Polycress. This is the first of my autumn salad leaf vegetables to germinate and grow, though most of the others are not far behind.
The front of my allotment has a flower border to add a bit of colour and now the bright orange African marigolds are in full flower growing up from a bed of deep blue lobelia Crystal Palace.
Gardeners must always plan well ahead, so I have several rows of Forget me nots and Polyanthus planted out in rows in well prepared soil. These will bulk up and give me good plants to lift for autumn planting of spring flowering bedding plants. I usually have a lot of wallflower for my spring displays but this year the seed failed to germinate and I only got about ten plants, whereas I normally get well over a hundred plants from one packet of seeds. I won’t use that seed supplier again. Now that next years bedding display will all be low growing plants I will have to order a fresh batch of low growing tulips to plant with them as my normal tall growing varieties will be too big. I will look at bulb planting next week.
Plant of the week
Astilbe comes in many red, pink, mauve and white shades, though my favourite has always been the bright red “Fanal” Astilbe prefers a cool moist shaded area and is perfect around the edges of a woodland pond. It is a perennial herbaceous plant that dies down in winter, but regrows again in spring. Make sure any new plants are kept well watered after planting to get them established. They can be propagated by careful crown division in late autumn, and are best divided after three or four years to maintain plant vigour.