Allotment Diary (October – Week 2)
I’m trying something new with my diary. Rather than just publish it on this website, I’m also going to record a new weekly video, called “The gardening week’. This diary, will be the show notes for the video. I’m also publishing the audio from the video as a podcast, again with this page as the show notes for the podcast.
The podcast should be available on itunes etc on Monday, called: The gardening week
As predicted we did get rain on Sunday and this gave me the opportunity to move some water from our capture tanks to long term storage, which is now full to the brim, leaving some spare capture capacity for further rain.
The storms that delivered all of the rain also bought strong winds and they caused a little damage, which is actually fairly rare for my plot. This time it was my oldest low tunnel that was badly ripped. This was going to happen soon anyway, as even fairly good polythene doesn’t last much beyond 5 years. I’m pleased that it happened now, when the weather is nice enough to enjoy the repair!
I’m always being asked about the gardening books that I read. I actually have a database where I log them already, so I just created a view onto that, which is restricted to gardening and self-sufficiency topics.
It’s the time of year now for sunrises and sets on our coast, well it is all year, but the timing works now for me to watch the sunrise as I walk to Caffe Nero.
I did get to the allotment eventually and cleared the first of my four pepper beds and reconditioned it ready for planting spinach later in the week. I moved the cover, over the existing spinach bed, where it will stay. The spinach doesn’t NEED a cover right now, but it will benefit from it.
At this time of year, temperatures will start lowering rapidly and for spinach we want to re-create the conditions of mid spring, when it would be at it’s peak growth rate.
Tuesday saw me following my rainy day cafe and health club routine, followed by an afternoon cleaning the house, I do enjoy cleaning, very satisfying. I didn’t always like cleaning, but like most things in life, if you don’t enjoy something, pay attention, put in the effort and get good at it. It’s hard to dislike something you are good at!
I also made the difficult decision to compost the late cucumbers, which were looking very sad and in their weakened state suffering from whitefly too. At this time of year, only healthy plants will thrive, so they had to go. Shortly after planting them we had a few very hot days, their small roots were struggling to cope in the heat, so I watered them well, they pulled through, but then we had a week of rain and they sulked in saturated compost.
Now much gardening on Wednesday, because I finally got some petrol, which allowed me to get across to the Rivington reservoir system for a day’s hiking.
I did take the opportunity to record some ‘walk and talk’ podcast episodes. I recorded the video while I walked too, so all of those people who ask me for videos of the local scenery, should be happy. I don’t have any professional camera gear at the moment though, so you will have to feedback on the quality. If it’s not good enough consider donating to my ‘buy me a coffee’ site and I might buy a gimbal!
While enjoying a break at the excellent cafe, I also finished reading ‘the living soil handbook’ and that prompted me to write some notes, contrasting the way I grow, with conventional – farming inspired – annual growing techniques.
I also expanded the section of my book, which covers ‘How much space you need for self-sufficiency’ to describe how much under-cover space you might need
You can find links to these in the change history for the book:
I also collected three bags of my favourite seed sowing compost from LS Systems, where it’s 1/3 the price that I can get it anywhere else!
Thursday saw me back on the allotment, where I planted the spinach bed that I repaired earlier in the week. I was surprised to see that the screws had ripped out of the central support of the raised bed, further investigation revealed that that the wood had rotted. All the other beds are fine, so I must have forgotten to treat that cut end with preservative. It was an easy fix though.
This coldframe is a little shallow, so the front edge isn’t really deep enough for spinach when the bed fully closed, which won’t happen until winter, so I planted radish there instead, that will be harvested by then.
I woke up in a black mood on Friday. This happens to me a couple of times a year and I’ve never discovered a trigger for me. This is the value of a good routine, rather than stay at home and feel sorry for myself, I went to my morning cafe and the healthy club. My mood didn’t improve much, but at least I did something constructive. I also got to enjoy an excellent sunrise.
I then went to the allotment and grafted hard, this usually does the trick and it did today. After a few hours the mental clouds had lifted. I removed the cold polythene from the damaged low tunnel, cleared the peppers that were in it and replanted with lettuce, interplanted with salad onions.
I have a chapter in my book that explains how I made all of my frames and covers, it’s full of diagrams and videos that I had a lot of fun creating.
On Saturday I thought the garden needed some TLC, so I cut and edged the lawns. I also took down the beans, night time temperatures are now below 10c and there’s no flowers, so they’ve finished for the year. This opened up space for planting, so I popped in collards and garlic. The collards were motivated by Dave from the Happy Acres Blog.
A few weeks ago I setup solar floodlights on the growing frame, so that we can continue to play games on the lawn as the nights close in. It looks really lovely at night now, not just a depressing black.
Debbie has also been busy making preserves. In a first for us she harvested our first ginger crop and made a syrup and dehydrated the leaves, for tea. I’m hoping the roots will re-shoot.
Not much gets done on Sunday except harvesting. Last week you might remember the huge number of green peppers I picked.
We managed to ripen up a few dozen of them during the week. I also managed to give away about a hundred to friends, family and allotment neighbours.
The main harvest was pretty good too. We need to be careful at this time of year not to harvest too hard, we don’t have a lot ready for harvest yet, as our autumn plantings are not yet ready for harvest.
First harvests for this week and all previous weeks shown here:
Here’s what I sowed this week:
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: