Allotment Diary (September – Week 4)
After the big push last week, my gardening activities slowed down considerably, or at least it felt like it. The difference was that we were coming to the end of the major autumn jobs, in fact the end of the major jobs until spring.
What’s in front of us now is a steady stream of single bed transitions, that can easily be managed in a couple of hours. This is my ideal gardening work, enough to feel productive and purposeful, but not enough to feel like work. Also much easier to slot into variable weather we are likely to enjoy and easier to slot in a bit of baby sitting.
This week saw me finish clearing and replanting the squash/sweet corn bed. In went a lot of salad onions. This year I’ve done about 50% of my salad onions outside, rather than under cover. My hope is that this will reduce the glut that we sometimes get in spring. The under cover plants being harvested in winter and early spring, the outdoor ones in later spring. In the past we never needed to compost them, but we do give a lot away to allotment friends.
I also gave my plot a much needed weed and tidy up. To be honest the tidy up was the most important of the jobs. One of the best things about an allotment – unlike the garden – is that it can be messy. So much dross accumulates over summer, when I’m just so busy with non allotment activities. By autumn it’s starting to annoy me and get a bit dangerous, so it’s great to finally see all the paths clear of hazards and weeds!
It was our 35th wedding anniversary this week as well and Debbie tried to book a few days away, with no luck. Literally everywhere she tried was booked solid! We are however fortunate to live very close to some of the countries best beauty spots. We chose to walk along the seafront at Arnside and then take the 5 minute train journey to Grange Over Sands, which has a wonderful promenade, with community maintained gardens and views out over Morecambe Bay. As all too often happens, a photo doesn’t do it justice.
We then worked together on her plot the following day. As regular readers will know, every year we work to ensure that our life is getting easier. This is true at home and on the allotment. We also review whether we really want to keep our allotments and for how long. I’m expecting to keep mine for at least another 15 years, Debbie for at least ten. As a result we set to work making it easier.
We’ve already transitioned it mostly to perennials, but she spent a day rationalising the huge number of varieties and as a result reducing the number of competing plants. This makes it much easier to get around and to weed. We then set about applying deep compost mulches to the annual beds, to increase fertility and reduce weeds. Over winter we will apply deep wood chip mulches to the paths and perennial beds to achieve the same.
We chose well rotted horse manure, because it’s cheap and effective, albeit a bit rough and difficult to work with. The result is good though. We spread this out over field beans, which will grow through it and further improve the soil.
Once the hard work was over I got to enjoy myself a bit more, pottering around the plot and doing some of the little jobs that make all the difference. I was particularly happy to get the polytunnel strawberries into their hanging baskets. This year I’m using an early variety – Sweetheart – that I already grow as my second early variety. It provided plenty of runners, which are very well rooted now. I’m hoping it will make an even better first early in the tunnel.
I also had time to give the house a top to bottom, autumn clean and clear my to do list. So I’m in good shape, well ahead of plan. We even have rain forecasted for most of next week, which means plenty of time in the gym and writing!
Harvests continue to be exceptionally good. Particularly the peppers, which have been ripening very nicely on and off the plant. We still have 3 weeks of harvesting ahead of us, before we need the pepper beds for spinach and salad crops, probably 60 litres, or 200 fruits. Debbie has also been busy making loads of preserves and drying herbs.
We also have some of the biggest red cabbages we’ve ever grown. We can’t get through a cabbage this size each week, so it gets cut into slices for friends and family.
The general harvest is great too, a lovely selection of autumn classics. We still have two tomato plants, barely clinging onto life in the tunnel and four new plants just flowering in the conservatory, along with five cucumbers, which are fruiting well.
The spinach and salads are – of course – wonderful at this time of year and will be thriving in the wetter cooler weather.
No harvest firsts for this week
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: