Tuesday, 17 October 2017



There was a time when the autumn harvest was all about potatoes and apples, but there are so many new crops and new types of existing crops that we are spoilt for choice as to what to pick, leave a bit longer or even take a chance with crops left in the ground in case we get yet another mild winter.
Harvesting Red Devil  and a few Bramley apples
Autumn raspberry Polka
Raspberries now come as summer and autumn fruiting with spine free stems and larger, sweeter fruit. It is mid October and I still have a few Polka raspberries to eat fresh, but Autumn Bliss fruit is past its best though ok for freezing for use in jams and compote.
Potatoes have now all been lifted, dried out and sacked up for storage in my garage. The crop weights have been outstanding with both Amour and Sarpo Mira producing massive spuds. Hopefully they will both store a long time. We are now using Lady Christl as the main potato as it does not store too well as young shoots want to break into growth, and our salad potato Casa Blanca gave us a very heavy crop of small but delicious potatoes.
Sorting out potatoes for storage
We are now into our fifth wet month, but with mild temperatures, so plant growth on everything has been luxuriant. Courgettes needed constant picking to keep sizes down before they looked like prize giant marrows, but still make great soup. Pumpkins continue to swell but rampart growth needed pruning before they took over half the allotment. Harvesting will be the end of the month.
The Oslin Apple
Apples may have been thinned twice in summer but still the trees are producing massive crops. The Oslin started us off with fresh apples in August, though suffered a fair bit of brown rot with the wet summer, to be followed by Discovery throughout September. A lovely early apple with a great flavour, but not so sweet this year due to lack of sunshine in these parts. Red Devil got picked early October and again the crop was massive with some really huge apples. Fiesta and Red Falstaff are still ripening up so wont get picked till the first few apples fall off naturally. Our cooker, Bramley is usually the last to get picked probably towards the end of the month, but then it is a brilliant keeper in store.
Apple Bramley
Pears appeared thin on the tree, but once they ripened up and started falling we discovered that we had quite a good crop and again there are some massive pears. Considering my pear has five different varieties grafted onto it over time, it has been quite difficult finding out how they are performing. Comice has no fruit, Conference just a few and Beurre Hardy is totally barren, but Christie has been prolific. Fruit may be a bit misshapen but very sweet and tasty. Concorde grafted in spring has four good shoots for fruiting next year or the following. I will cut down a few Beurre Hardy branches desperately reaching up to heaven and graft them with another variety called Beth which seems to do very well on City Road allotments.
Leeks, Swedes,
Leek Musselburgh
Parsnips, Kale, Sprouts, Cabbage and Cauliflower have all matured so picking/cutting can continue throughout the winter months.
Beetroot is another vegetable that just loves the warm but wet weather. Roots are plentiful and all are a good size. I have lifted some for storage in dry soil in boxes under cover, but still have three rows still growing happily on the plot. I’ll keep an eye on the weather and cover them over with soil for frost protection or if cold weather threatens they will get lifted for storing indoors.
Winter lettuce Hilde and winter hardy spring onions were planted on land cleared of onions, peas and early potatoes and are now just about ready for picking and should last for a few months.

Wee jobs to do this week

Taking geranium cuttings
Geraniums have had a great year and been in flower from late spring, and although they are still putting on a show now is the time to take cutting to ensure the display will continue next summer. Take strong young shoots and snap off at a leaf joint making a cutting three to four inches long. Remove lower leaves and any flower buds and pot up into well drained sandy compost. Keep them warm but not in the sun on a shady windowsill or greenhouse if it can have some heat over winter.
They will root after a couple of months but best leave them undisturbed till March before potting them up into small pots.

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