Tuesday 25th September 2007 - Weather: bright but rain threatening
Today I had to meet Old Jack on the plot as we had a scrumping date over on the farm. Filled my carriers with plums, pears and crab apples. The owners are thrilled that we go and have a pick as none of the fruit is used in bulk and most of it falls to the ground and rots, which is such a shame. The crab apples will be transformed into chilli jelly, some of the plums will be turned into jam, the rest into plum gin and vodka and the pears will be eaten, frozen, bottled and given to the neighbours.
Once back on the plot I cleared the old pea and sweetpea area infront on the runner beans as this is the overwintering onion, leeks and garlic patch. The leeks that the site secretary gave me a few weeks ago are already in and settled and looking good. The area was dug, raked, dug and raked some more until I was left with something resembling a fine tilth. Then I planted my 75 white onions and 25 red onions. My mate Growmore sends me these from Yorkshire and the quality is outstanding, much better than I have ever received mail order. They are strong firm sets which seem to shrug of the dreaded white rot, giving me a great useable harvest in early summer. I also planted 2 bulbs of purple hard neck garlic, purchased from the Garlic Farm on the Isle of Wight. I have tried garlic from other mail order suppliers, and had rubbish harvests - the Garlic Farm were the best when I first used them, and I tried to be cheap, and paid the price. From now on I will stick with quality. I have saved 2 bulbs to break up and plant at home in a large trough. These should be white rot free and give me clean specimens for platting.
From there I did some harvesting. Still plenty on the plot and I picked a couple of cucumbers, a couple of crystal lemon cucumbers, courgettes, chard, turnips, radish, salad leaves and the bonus, a bowl of strawberries. There are lots of flowers and immature fruits still on the plants, but the nights are getting a lot colder now, so whether they will ripen, we will have to wait and see. I also picked the last raspberries from Jacks plot as he didn't want them. They went straight into the freezer as they turn mouldy so quickly this late in the season.
I did harvest a couple of the red sweetcorns, but they hadn't developed very big cobs. I don't know if it was due to the weather, or if they got checked when I planted them out, but they perfect, sweet, and beautiful.
Clearing time really. I still have a few spuds in the ground so I cleared the last of the kestrel and Maxine and I have a few pink fur apples to go. So, after an hour of digging, the rain started setting in, so I set off for home. I will be back next Friday for another farm rendevous and to clear the last of the spuds, pick all the apples I can reach and finish any digging I have left to do.