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Allotment this weekend now that frosts are here

Posted by Guy Barter on 23 Oct 2010 at 05:32 PM

Very sharp frosts have finally brought the growing season to an end.   Soil remains workable but the number of weekends when no ground work is possible will now increase.  This means that the ground must be got ready before winter rains saturate the soil and mid winter freezes lock up the ground.

 

• All tender plants now lie in ruins and will be lifted with a fork and carried to the compost pits.  Some peppers, French beans and aubergines were covered in fleece and might yet yield a crop, but are probably a forlorn hope – they will be cleared last.

 

• Sticks, canes and string is also being recovered and stacked beneath the trees at the end of the plot to be cleaned and made ready for re-use or disposal this winter on days that groundwork is not possible.

 

• The last potatoes are now leafless and easy to lift and store.  A row of ‘Anya’ that died back early and was then covered with foliage form adjacent rows has come to light.

 

• Sweet potatoes too have lost their foliage and are ready to lift and bring indoors – I find they do not store well and sweet potato feasts are a seasonal treat now.

 

• Galinsoga, the most destructive weed on my plot is not frost hardy and it too now is soft and black.  Unfortunately nettles and chickweed remain green.

 

• Bonfires can now be lit, to be rid of diseased plant wastes, without smoking out nearby housing and schools. 

 

• It is high time to order manure, before the allotment roads get water-logged and vulnerable to damage by traffic.

 

• Before manuring soil samples for analysis need collecting – I walk in a ‘W’ path across the plot and take 20 samples with a trowel to a depth of 15cm, discarding the top 2cm.

 

• Frost will improve the flavour of Brussels sprouts and parsnips so these can be started – crops of both are very good this year.

 

• It is high time to sow broad beans and peas for over-wintering, but the recent rain have left the soil too wet to work  As soon as the tide goes out the seeds will go in.

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