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The end is nigh

Posted by Guy Barter on 14 Oct 2007 at 07:47 PM

Time to face it - the last squeak of summer is gone.  Aubergines, cucumbers, peas and peppers were cleared this weekend.  There are still a few tomatoes, but with the recent warm, dewy nights blight is taking them before they ripen.  Bringing green ones indoors is no good - they already contain the seeds of their own destruction, so to speak.

Courgettes, French and runner beans are on their last legs -a week or two at most, unless frost stricken before.

Three pumpkins remain to be gathered, but all the squashes are safely in store.

Two squirrel chewed ones were turned into prawn and squash soup.  Soup seems to fit this season.  Carrot, coriander, leek and tomato soup was also made with the freshest ingredients possible; no recipe, but inspired by the Covent Garden soup book, acquired when they supported the Growing and Showing marquee at Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.  Though I say it myself, the freshness of the ingredients made this soup and made the labour and trouble taken since January to grow these crops well worthwhile.

However for now, abundant courgettes, French and runner beans and some tomatoes, supplemented with the first of the autumn crops; beetroot, fennel, leeks, turnips, fill my harvesting bucket.  A very modest crop of mildewed peas was gathered.  The deer damaged the upper shoots letting in light that encouraged weeds - but any peas are a bonus in October and the weeds and haulm added to the over-flowing compost pits.

I am taking it easy for now - the winter work can wait.  I have done some digging, just to incorporate a spent bed of strawberries and continue to dig over the pumpkin patch to bury weeds and foliage.

Several plot holders have given up - they have found the labour too much.  I have sprayed their overgrown plots with glyphosate ready for the next people and other over-grow areas covered in brambles have been treated with triclopyr.  The weather won't hold much longer so I want to finish the spraying for the year and use up the dregs of the year's weedkillers.


However, new occupants keep arriving - one woman took on a fearsome rubbish heap of a plot and has made a pretty oasis of it.  However I fear her preparation is inadequate to prevent weeds taking over again and her plants won't thrive.  I hope I am wrong.

Another couple moved from their successful half-plot to an abandoned full plot, that had turned into a disgraceful wilderness of nettles and galinsoga.  They held a party for family and friends to clear the plot - I am not sure alcohol and rotovators go together, but I saw no ambulances!

Seed and sundries catalogues are coming in. It is time to decide what to grow next year - new and/or the most desirable cultivars sell out early, so order ought to go in as soon as possible.

The other priority is securing an ample load of organic matter while the allotment roads are still passable for lorries.  I have numbers to ring and get quotes this week.

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