A DREICH DAY ON THE PLOT
Storm Callum brings more wind and constant rain in the middle of October, but then the sun returns to allow a few more days of happy gardening on the allotment plot. Way back in the long hot summer the weather was perfect for weed killing so now I am only left with those that have germinated during our wet September. A couple of days hoeing
up sorted these out, so now I can continue my autumn harvests, whenever the
rain stops, or in between showers.
|Anna brings home the pumpkin harvest|
|Brussels Sprouts Crispus|
|Mixed lettuce leaves|
Autumn strawberry Flamenco is giving a great crop of large berries, but cooler nights and misty mornings is allowing botrytis to affect quite a few, so they are normally consumed the same day as picking before rot gets a chance to take hold. Autumn raspberries Polka and Autumn Bliss suffered from Storm Callum but I am still getting a few small murrly berries. I pick out a few of the best for the table, but Anna uses the others to make a raspberry sauce by adding a splash of Ribena or apple juice with some sugar in a pot simmering for a couple of minutes. Once cool this can keep for a few days in the fridge. Brilliant added to home made yogurt and with breakfast cereals.
The figs had a great year, but now cooler nights have sent them into dormancy and all the leaves have fallen off. No more figs for this year, but Anna has made both fig jam and fig chutney to keep us supplied for a few more months.
|Geraniums in October|
Cabbages Kilaton are having a great year, but I have had to find homes for quite a few as they are huge, but at this time of year they can stay fresh in the ground for several weeks. Brussels sprouts Crispus is also very strong with large sprouts forming but I will wait for a few more cooler nights and a bit of frost to firm and sweeten them up before picking. Last year I lost all my sprouts when they all blew up without forming buttons, and I notice other allotment plot holders are having the same problem this year. Not yet found out what the problem is, though another problem has been plagues of caterpillars as my nets keep off the pigeons but the
white butterfly manages to squeeze through. These are regularly picked of from
the growing points at the top.
Swedes and parsnips are now both ready for lifting. Swedes are a fair size, but I have seen bigger and parsnips are also a good size, though some are forked, which could be down to the dry summer and frequent watering. Beetroot has been very successful this year with plenty of baby beet and larger roots for pickling, fresh beetroot recipes and a delicious beetroot soup.
|Strawberries in October|
Leeks are now big enough for lifting for the kitchen, though they needed frequent watering during the long dry summer weather.
Pumpkins were harvested, cleaned and put into storage a few weeks ago. They are a brilliant bright orange colour and the thick skin suggests they will keep for many months. I normally wait till a few days before Halloween before cutting, but the hot weather combined with frequent irrigation made them grow fast, then mildew arrived and they lost all the foliage.
It has been a good year for salads. Lettuce, rocket and spring onions have all been plentiful, and winter lettuce and late sown rocket will keep us supplied well into winter.
Flowers and especially geraniums, poppies and red roses in my allotment front border have kept the plot looking good from spring onwards. As these begin to go over they will be replaced with some home grown wallflower and pansies. The pansies were sown a couple of months ago from seed saved from some of my best colours. I will then find out if any have come true to their parents or if they have all been cross pollinated, but hopefully still to put on a good display.
The freezer has struggled to find space this year for all sorts of produce due to regular surpluses.
|Clover and beans green manure|
Wee jobs to do this weekGreen manure crops of tares, beans, rye and clover sown after harvesting onions, broad beans, sweet corn, potatoes and summer cauliflowers as well as an old strawberry bed which got dug over after its three years of cropping have put on a lot of growth. These areas can be retained with a good vegetative cover into winter before trampling and digging in, but if they start to flower dig them in before they set seed and later next year become a nuisance.