Allotment Diary (October – Week 4)
How much time have I spent on the allotments?
The allotments are in fairly good shape now for winter, so we’ve not had too much to do, but the weather’s been quite nice and my blistered feet mean I’ve not had much opportunity for exercise, so pottering around the allotments has been wonderful. I managed a total of 10 hours work, spread across 4 days.
I’ve now added the value of our preserves into our running total harvest value, so that gives us a total for 2019 of £7,892 +£701 = £8,593. We’ve spent a total of £1,264 this year, mostly tools, seeds, water storage, nematodes and a lot of compost!
What we’ve harvested and eaten
We harvested a total of £180 worth of fruit and veg this week, a lot less than last week because the bulk harvests are now finished. That’s going to be the way of it now a steady decline in harvest value until mid February/March time when everything ‘springs’ to life, provided the winter is kind to us and everything survives until then.
We picked: Leeks, Grapes, field bean tops, pears, peppers, apples, sprouts, kalettes, new potatoes, main crop tomatoes, chard, raspberries, red and golden beetroot, New Zealand spinach, red cabbage, carrots, calabrese, sprout leaves, calabrese leaves, lots of types of kale, spring onions, mixed herbs and loads of lettuce. We also raided the store for: main crop potatoes, onions, shallots, garlic and dried apples and pears. Bold items are new this week.
What we’ve bought this week
A few seeds
Video’s this week
What I’ve sown
It’s been quite an active sowing week, although I have to admit some are re-sowings because a few recent batches suffered a little from too much heat and not enough light and ended up potentially too leggy to be worth planting. These seeds were either sown direct into the ground (carrots) or are sitting under grow lights in the shed.
What I’ve planted
I’m still planting a reasonable amount, bearing in mind that what’s being planted now will be feeding us for the next seven months! The winter density was inter-planted with spring onions, the lambs lettuce replaced lettuce and the Napoli carrots were planted into the big tubs in the polytunnel, these tub’s will next be used for runner and French beans in April, having the carrots in them keeps them hydrated.
What I’ve potted on
I’ve potted on my first succession of brassicas for over-wintering, lots of cabbage. My second succession will be potted on in a few weeks and that includes a lot of cauliflower, romanesco, calabrese and well as early spring kale experiments.
First harvests of the year
What we’ve run out of in store
- Celery – May week 1
- Last years kale – May week 1
- Perpetual spinach – May week 3
- Purple sprouting broccoli – May week 4
- Chard – June week 1
- Onions – June week 2 (we have fresh onions now of course)
- Beetroot – June week 3 (we have fresh beets now of course)
- Carrots – June week 4 (we have fresh carrots now of course)
- Celery – August week 4
- Golden Purselane – 1st September
- Sweet Corn – 20th September
- Courgettes – 28th September
- Runner beans – 6 October
- French beans – 6 October
- Courgette – 16th October
- Tomatoes – 19th October
- Pears – 25th October
What’s left in store
The store is rapidly filling up now with preserves, dried fruit, garlic, shallots, onions, beetroot and potatoes, but it’s not full yet so I’m not going to start tracking it until then.
Water Reserves and Rainfall
The taps are now off on the allotments and it’s been a remarkable month. We’ve been totally self-sufficient in water for over a month now due to huge amounts of rain. That means we either bring all veg home for washing, or we take tap water to the allotment for washing. I like taking water to the allotment because the dirty water then gets used to water the polytunnel and cold-frames etc, rather than being flushed down the drain!
- Allotment reserves (Steve) : 4.6 cubic metres
- Allotment reserves (Jennie): 0.8 cubic metres
- Allotment reserves (Debbie): 0.5 cubic metres
- Home reserves : 0.7 cubic metres
It’s worth noting that we have a huge amount of roof area for collecting water at home, so we don’t need anywhere near as much winter storage.
What have we processed for preserving
The season for preserves is almost over and Debbie is enjoying a well earned rest, she did one last solitary batch of passata!
- For the first time since I’ve had an allotment I’ve been able to breathe easy when the mains water was switched off, I finally have enough to get me through winter no matter what happens. Hopefully I will get through early spring too! It’s been a lot of work and expense, but it’s worth it for the lack of stress, it’s like having money in the bank and living below your means (which we also do)
- We are the best positioned ever as we approach winter, we have more and varied preserves, more food in store and more in the ground and all of it is better quality than previous years. I’ve eliminated everything that didn’t earn it’s keep over winter in previous years, winnowing the varieties down to the best of the best. It’s great to be looking forward to a glorious winter diet, rather than worrying whether we will have enough. The only wild-card is the carrots (as always).
- We harvested the runner beans that we left for seed
- I gave the bright lights chard and the rhubarb chard a good tidy up and was very pleased with the strength of the plants once I’d removed all of the low quality and diseased leaves. I fill all of the gaps in the bed with Fordhook Chard and planted a container full in the polytunnel as well. Ideally I would put a low tunnel over the chard now, but I don’t have one spare, so it’s a toss up between protecting the chard or protecting the early onions, decisions, decisions!
- We are a bit behind on planting the garlic
- A lot of the carrots are splitting given the huge amount of rain we’ve had. We don’t like frozen carrots, so it’s touch and go whether enough will survive in the ground to keep us going until next year, when the late sown carrots are hopefully ready.
- Jennie had fractured her knee cap, so she can’t work her allotment for at least six weeks
- I still have badly blistered feet after the London walking holiday as a result I’m cycling and driving everywhere