Monday 27th September 2010 - weather: Dry
At last, hoorah, my blog can remain the Allotment News, as, for a brief two hours today, I got to the allotment.
I adore the changes in our seasons, it is one of the joys of living in the UK, and the signs of autumn covered the allotment site. The trees have started colouring up, the rosehips are glowing rusty orange (I really should pick some and make some rosehip syrup), the tomato plants were all blighty and finished and the leaves on the squash plants have started to frazzle away revealing a plethora of cucurbita fruits.
My beans are still going great guns - see, the slugs did me a favour munching off my first sowing of runners. If the weather remains mild, I could be picking runners for another month as there is a huge flush or crimson flowers. The Borlotti beans have finished flowering and the plants are weighed down with pods. I have been picking them as they dry, podding them and freezing them. I have never had any success drying the beans out and storing them for the winter, the just go mouldy. I have an abundance of beetroot and a large patch of carrots and turnips which I plan to leave in the ground to use over the winter. The parsnips were very, very late in germinating, and although they are growing very rapidly now, I don't thing we will be winning any 'biggest parsnip' awards at the Hort. Soc. AGM. However, they will be perfect for Christmas and the new year when harvestable crops are lean.
Lean....did I say lean....? Not on my plot. This year, thanks to, well, luck rather than judgement, I planted a large selection of brassicas through weed supressing membrane. This was so successful last year, that I doubled the area this year, and as a result, I have brussel sprouts - purple and green, purple sprouting, brocolli, 3 varieties of kale, 3 varietes of cabbage, kohl rabi, and cauliflowers, not that caulis are ever succesful on our site, but I try every year, just in case. I also have 2 rows of spinach and a lovely large patch of swiss chard. That, the leeks, the roots, and the new oriental greens that have just started germinating, should keep us in veggies well into next spring when the young salads and baby roots take over. GLEE!
I spent my 2 hours as productively as possible, cleared all the old tom plants, and filled a trug to overflowing with the red and green fruits - the red will be frozen, the green will be turned into my black mango chutney. I also picked a bundle of beans, pulled a couple of beetroots and picked the large pumpkin as I noticed a mouse/deer/slug has attacked one of the smaller ones, and I didn't want him to get bored and start on the whopper. Over the next few visits, I will bring all of the squashes home. After picking and dealing with the blighty tomato plants, I weeded around the young beetroots seeing what was there. Plenty of tennis ball sized roots, and a lot of smaller ones which will be used for leaves, or left to see if they develop as the larger ones are cleared.
That was it...two hours comes and goes in a blur. Saw Caroline, she has had a huge success with one butternut squash plant, producing over 10 fruits. Her plot is one of the neatest, but she leaves nearby and is retired so has planty of time on her hands....lucky girl!