Allotment Diary (September – Week 3)
Even though I’ve been gardening for about 6 years now, the autumn workload always takes me by surprise. I think I’ve got a nice schedule, just two beds to clear and re-plant each week, but then reality gets in the way. Ten days of rain in the long range forecast, an unexpected holiday, lots of harvesting that I somehow ‘forgot’ to factor in, a nagging old injury that forces me to take it easy, when I should be gardening.
Maybe it’s not surprising then that I had to set all other plans aside this week and spent three, 3 hour, days working on the allotment and another one working in the garden, on top of that another day spent harvesting! I don’t think I’ve worked this hard since I retired, or maybe the aching hernia and being older just makes it feel like it. As a result I’ve not left St Annes at all this week.
I did force myself to rest though, spending most of my mornings in my favourite cafe, then walking the beach, taking a gentle swim and relaxing in a jacuzzi, steam and sauna.
My main activity has been clearing and reconditioning beds. So far this week I’ve done three beds in the back garden and planted two of them (Miner’s lettuce, spring cabbages and salad onions) and four on the allotment and planted three of them (field beans, onions).
We’ve also finished processing the onions/shallots and these are now all hanging in the storage shed, or in trays. I harvested and stored the winter/spring beetroot too. In all cases we have enough to last us comfortably until May. We also have enough garlic, potatoes, winter squash and preserves to last us until new season harvests arrive.
Everything else we will harvest fresh from the ground : parsnips, carrots, salad onions, leeks and dozens of leafy greens. These are our staples for winter, but we also have the seasonal autumn and winter treats: oca, yacon, artichokes, radish, turnips and lots of fruit.
We’ve now ripened all but about 10 tomatoes from the hundreds that we picked because of blight and the preserves cupboard is now full to bursting. It really is a time of abundance!
What’s lovely though, is to see almost every square inch of ground still productive or newly planted, with the remainder to be replanted up in October. This week’s harvest is colourful, but every week we aim for similar abundance, a different mix of fresh food, but just as tasty, of course all the summer preserves help with that too!
Book wise I’ve been busy too, spending at least an hour a day working on individual growing guides for winter crops. I’ve also nearly finished my construction guide for coldframes, low tunnels etc, I’m well on with the chapter on adapting the way we garden to climate change (also reading three big reports on that topic too). I’ve also written a chapter on no-dig bed prep and started another on gardening technology.
Finally I’ve given the garden a good tidy up. I’ve also upgraded the lighting with cheap solar. Now that the nights are drawing in it’s great to have our ‘football pitch’ and ‘tennis court’ floodlit.
I’ve a new way of tracking my first harvest dates now. The beauty of this new system is that it’s fully integrated with my sowing records, so I automatically get ‘sowing to harvest’ and ‘planting to harvest’ data. New firsts are at the top.
Here’s what I sowed this week:
Harvests are picking up well now as we head into Autumn.
Here’s our harvests for the year so far, with the most recent at the top. We hit our target for last year and harvested over £12,000. We will never harvest as much again as we have less land now, our objective has changed now.
Here’s a list of the preserves for the year. Debbie is now busy making lots of preserves.
YouTube videos for the week can be found here: