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Last autumn weekend on the allotment

Posted by Guy Barter on 29 Oct 2010 at 05:09 PM

Soil is almost fully recharged with water and remains workable for now. Mild weather after recent frosts is allowing crops to continue to grow, although very slowly. 


Most of the spent crops have now been removed leaving over half the plot bare and the gardener a little sad. Other crops are still to be cleared and it will be good to be finished and be able to eliminate the weeds at last.


Canes and stakes are being recovered and stacked ready to sort on frosty winter days. There is a lot of 'allotment working capital' tied up in these items!


Manure has now been delivered and barrowed out onto the plot. Digging can start. Half the plot is free of crops and all this will be manured. With one compost pit to be emptied later this will mean that over half the plot will be manured this year – a similar ratio to last year Manuring at least every other year is required to raise, as opposed to merely maintain, soil fertility. Deep digging and heavy manuring paid off in the early summer drought this year where plants kept going surprisingly well.


A landscaper has kindly dumped some surplus topsoil from a turfing job. This free soil is also being added to the plot. It is fairly rich in clay, ideal for adding to a sandy allotment.


Landscapers are also delivering  tree leaves. Using a wire cage on a barrow to increase capacity these will be collected and added, in moderation, to the compost pits to help boost composting output.


Carrots and parsnips have been uncovered and the costly insect proof mesh recovered, cleaned and stored in the garden shed. When it is truly dry it will be placed in a bin liner and suspended from the roof to deter vermin from ruining it.


The pumpkin crop has been surprisingly heavy and as it is clear we cannot consume all the fruits the surplus are being given away – demand for pumpkins fall off fast after halloween! Next year fewer plants will be grown.


Pea and bean sowing is under way – seed ran out unexpectedly and top-up supplies have been hastily bought from Wisley plant centre.


Wisley plant centre has also supplied garlic and shallots – a pack of everything sold is bought and will be planted soon. After dire root disease levels this year a new site has been identified that, having been under soft fruit for some years, should be low in disease. All the same some garlic will be grown in containers of potting media to get disease free planting stock for 2011.


White cabbages have finally made it despite a late start after the first sowing ran to seed – these will soon join the red storing cabbage in the shed.


Some vegetables are at their very peak now – carrots, celery, cauliflowers and Florence fennel, which is some consolation for the end of the summer vegetables.


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