AUTUMN ACTIVITIES

Last night I couldn’t sleep so as I was lying in bed I was thinking what to do next on the allotment (what else?!)

I have got a number of net cages there and the one very close to the shed was due for a rethink. First of all I was going to move it closer to the round net tunnel because I moved my cold frames somewhere else, they were in the wrong place. But then I realised that a few days ago I took a number of cuttings from my Daubenton kale and planted them in this net tunnel. I made a line of them, that will stay there and I won’t have to grow seedlings of kale – saves time, space and money. The rest of this tunnel will have lettuce, peppers and tomatoes, cabbages and different kinds of kale were there this year.

It was surprisingly easy to dismantle the net cage – nothing is wasted though, I managed to roll the net and keep it in the shed, that will be used to cover the strawberry beds next year and the posts are stashed away beside the shed. I’m sure they will come handy too.

All that’s left from the cage are my two giant cabbages. I covered them with a piece of the salvaged net because the birds always look for something to eat – why don’t they nibble weeds??

Talking of birds – I had to put some torn bits of an old video tape around my garlic as the birds were pulling the cloves out!

I decided to grow broad beans this year; I gave them a rest last year but as I have space in the two empty raised beds, why not. The soil was ready and as the sides are quite high it should protect the plants if they should be too tall.

This was the last thing to do on the main plot, all is finished and now I have to wait for next spring.

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In the meantime I’ll be digging the rest of my plots.

PLANTING TIME

Even though the weather is still quite unsettled and un-spring like I decidedĀ  to plant my Spagna Bianco beans out. I waited quite a while before I started them in pots in the greenhouse but they grew at an alarming rate and very soon were trying to get out of the greenhouse. I put the whole tray of them in the veranda to harden them so I think they were quite tough when they went in the ground. I didn’t want to take chances so I built a little fleece fence round them, perhaps just for a bit of protection from the wind.

There is also one line of them but this didn’t get any pampering because these are just beside the net tunnel and that seems to keep the wind off them.

The next job was to plant something in the four empty cold frames. I had radishes there, harvested them and now they were ready.

I have grown five bush courgettes, ideal for this, hopefully they’ll just sit there and produce loads of tasty fruit. One cold frame had to have two courgette plants but I don’t think this will matter. If it gets too overcrowded I’ll just carefully take one out and plant is elsewhere.

The last job was planting some more lettuce seedlings in the polytunnel. The first batch are doing very well and the four cucumbers as well. I had one tray of lettuce, one cucumber plant and one ‘mystery’ plant. It looks like a squash, courgette or pumpkin – the label got lost in moving. We shall see.

LAST BIT OF DIGGING

The weather forecasters seem to get it right quite often these days; it was a dismal day yesterday, no chance to do anything on the allotment. In order to get a bit of exercise and some fresh air I walked to town, then the rain got really heavy and I returned home looking like a bedraggled cat.

Never mind that, the afternoon was spent in the greenhouse, further sorting out trays and sewing some chilli peppers in a pot to keep on the kitchen windowsill.

Today was a different story – just as forecast, blue sky, some chill in the air but very nice.

There were a few bits of land that needed turning over, nothing heavy, just getting it ready and perhaps pulling some weeds out. My autumn digging must have been good, I didn’t find many weeds, the soil is crumbly, just ready and waiting . Delighted to see loads of worms, I think they know that my friendly robin is after them and they go down like a flash.

All in all I turned the soil over in my latest cabbage cage

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and on the small patch where I’m planning to have parsnips this year.

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There is one more little piece of ground left where I had parsnips this year but that’s a bit too wet, I’ll leave it till the weekend, perhaps the weather will be kind and it’ll dry out.

I also have a number of cold frames, I tried last year to make a hotbed in one of my raised beds using two of them. It wasn’t a huge success, I had some earlier lettuce and radishes but nothing special. I placed them all in a line behind my original net tunnel, filled them with horse manure and they’re ready for action again.

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Just as well I pruned the Asian pear, the buds are ready to open. Hope we’re not going to have too much late frost, I’ve got high hopes for a good harvest. The tree might want to have a rest after a bumper crop last year, we’ll see.

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JANUARY

It is never too early to start on the plot, as long as the weather is reasonable and the ground isn’t too wet.

It was an ideal afternoon to go there today and get going. Not only was I able to harvest the rest of the swedes but also get the raised beds ready.

I was forced to grow swede under cover because the pigeons developed a great liking for them. Thanks to the fact that I put the swedes in my raised beds and put the mesh over them I had something to show for my troubles.

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I like swede and they keep well once harvested so we shall have a variety of dishes next week.

I also put some leaf mold into the empty beds, ready to grow my courgettes there later in the year. Because swede is in the brassica family I can’t grow cabbages there this year. Never mind, I’ve got enough space.

I keep digging my parsnips out, a few every now and then. The ground hasn’t been too frozen so far and they keep well, right into March if necessary.

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Even managed to do a bit of digging and moved one of the cold frames, they are now all in one row, more organised and I gained some space to put up some wigwams for climbing beans.

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