Thursday, October 16, 2008

Thursday 16th October 2008 - weather: clear blue skies but breezy
Back again, what joy! Everything was still exactly as I had left it, no magic gnome had arrived in the night and finished all the digging for me, so with fork in hand, I carried on. I completely dug the tomato growing tunnel, watered it as it has a corregated plastic roof so it stays quite dry, then sowed some mustard seed. I know it is rather late in the season, but as it stays so mild for so long I thought I would chuck some in. It didn't cost me anything and the soil in the tom tunnel is getting quite fine so this should help beef it up.

I took down all the bean poles then. A sad job. I always think and allotment doesn't look like an allotment if it doesn't have bean poles up. However, they were all cleared away and stashed in the shed. I then spent 15 minutes just tidying up in the shed, just as a break from digging. I have patched the hole in the window, but have left a bit open to see if the wrens come back again in the spring and nest again on my old rake.

As you can see my lovely cosmos are still flowering their little hearts out and have been all summer long. These self seed at will and I leave them to it.

Back to digging. Backbreaking work, but the ground does look so lovely when it is dug. In the 6 hours there I still didn't get the entire back end of plot 2 dug, but I am over three quarters of the way there. What I did get dug and cleared had mustard sown and raked in, and then, as if by magic, it rained for about 10 minutes, so all the seed was well settled in and ready to grow. I shall let it get to about 6 inches tall, then dig it in.
Still to dig and clear
After digging and sowing mustard

In my various breaks from the boredom of digging I tidied my rhubarb bed, then mulched it with a layer of manure, I cut down the massive stems from the jerusalem artichokes as they were starting to flop in the wind, I started cutting down the old raspberry canes in the fruit cage, I pruned back all of the currant plants, I dug a handful of lovely carrots, pulled a lettuce, picked the last 2 cucumbers and filled a carrier with the last Red Duke of York spuds, another I must remember not to grow next year as they were slug fodder. So no to Epicure and Red Duke of York and Picasso I think.

Jobs to be getting on with when I next get back will be to carry on digging, cut back the gladioli and mulch them with some manure, continue cutting back raspberry canes, make a clamp for the beetroots as I have so many still on the plot and to sow some sweetpeas - a bit of an experiment as I have never sown directly before but Old Jack does every year and he has a lovely show of sweetpeas very early in the year.
Here are a couple of pictures of my weeded brassica bed. I don't have masses of luck with brassicas, don't know why, but these are looking okay and I should have a lovely harvest of sprouts in November and December.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wedensday 15th October 2008 - weather: damp and dreary

Cor, Autumn is really upon us. Leaves everywhere, the air is damp and the crops are starting to look shabby. I have pure luxury, 2 days off work to spend on the allotment, and I was going come rain or shine. Glad to say the rain was only very fine so I worked through.

Today was a case of start at the begining and work my way through, so I headed straight into the brassica netting to sort out the various greens and get them weeded and staked as necessary. The wind had really blown a lot of things down and also blown the netting down in places, so as I weeded I was able to get the structure sound again. I know that it is only for a short while, but when these plants have been in the ground for months and months, I am not about to neglect them just before they crop. I have about 12 red cabbage plants that went in during the spring...I'm sure they should be ready by now, but they aren't. I really don't have much luck with cabbages and I have no idea what I am doing wrong. The purple sprouting broc is reaching for the stars - hope that starts to produce soon. And glad to report that my Brussel Sprouts 'Brilliant' have plenty of little buttons all the way up the stems, so there should be plenty for Christmas and beyond.

Old Jack, love him, had left me a dozen winter hardy lettuce plants to put in, which I did in the gaps between sprout plants, and there is a nice row of young rainbow chard plants that are begining to bulk up. Also cavalo nero kale is putting on lots of new growth, so as the summer crops go over, there are some lovely winter ones to come.

I started clearing the tomato area where there is a blanket of foxglove plants. They must have been in the compost I put down in the spring. I don't mind as they pull out easily and they go on the compost heap. I am planning to leave a patch of them around the scarecrow as I do want to grow more flowers on the plot. I am expecting sunflowers to pop up everywhere also as the birds, or maybe meeces, have completely scoffed the heads of the sunflowers and there are seeds scattered everywhere. I will dig them up, and if they grow, bonus!

During the course of the day I trudged to the manure pile and filled my compost heap with a mix of weeds of poo. The farmer the other side of the allotment boundary has started dumping the manure over the hedge for us - excellent and free for all. Most people are putting it straight down onto their plots, but in my opinion it should be heaped up for a while as it is so fresh it is steaming hot and stinks of horse wee. I will leave mine on the compost heap until the spring and I will use it when I plant out my spuds etc. I may use some fresh stuff around my apple trees, but keep it away from the trunks.

Back to the plot again tomorrow and I hope to finish plot number 2. I have the beans to pull down and the old squash/sweetcorn area to dig over and weed. That area is going to be my seed sowing area next spring, so carrots, parsnips, salads etc, so I won't be putting any manure on it. I do however have a nice big pile of 9 month old compost which I will be putting over it just to beef it up. I also have a couple of jars of mustard seed which lovely old Jack has given me, so I hope to get that sown tomorrow so it can get growing before the weather gets too cold.

I did take pics, but have left my camera downstairs, so I will do lots of pics tomorrow. Now I am pooped and off to bed.