Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Autumn in the Allotment - Part 1

One aim we have had in the allotment is that we can always find something to pick from the allotment at whatever time of year, or failing that, there is something in our stores that came from the allotment. All of the onions have been in store for a month or two now, and just recently we have been picking the borlotti and ying yang beans that have been drying on the plants. This year, we did get a little mixed up with these and found that we had planted some climbing ones on open ground and some non-climbing ones under the swing frame! We constructed some more frameworks from hazel sticks from our pruning of the hazelnut tree early in the year.

I have though now made sure that I know which beans are which in the bedroom where I have them laid out on newspaper for drying before we pod them and put into jars. The beans are aesthetically pleasing! There's still a few more yet to pick and I am just waiting for a few more dry days to finish the job. We ate some with tortillas at the weekend, also using home grown onions, a handful of home grown tomatoes supplanted by a can and a home grown clilli pepper, among other bought in ingredients. 

The little pot Meyer lemon tree that has found freedom from scale insect - now it is in the allotment - is flourishing. There are at least three lemons on it and there's some more flowers but it probably is too late for those to be pollinated. As you can see in the photo, we have started to protect it against the cold and shortly I think it will be wrapped up for the winter. I have also put some straw into the pot, again for protection against the cold but also as a mulch to stop weeds. The lemon is against the back fence which has a hedge that the holder of the neighbouring plot has planted and also is south facing, so it should be fine for the winter as it was last year. 

The strawberry patch around the lemon has now been fully weeded, but again there's a few strawberries with flowers! We are pretty sure they are standard strawberries rather then remontant ones! 



The minipop sweetcorn harvest has come to an end now, but we have at several bags now in the freezer. We use these in stir fry dishes and at around £1 for about a dozen in the supermarket, shipped or flown in from south east Asia, this is a very economical and indeed emission reducing crop to grow in the allotment. We start them off inside in toilet roll tubes folded over at the base, filled with compost and then warmed and sterilised with boiling water, allowed to cool a bit and then the individual corns are put in. Once big enough in May they go into the allotment with a mesh over to protect them, and then by late August/September they are giving three or sometimes four cobs per plant. 


This is the top end section of the allotment which this year has been used for onions and garlic (now harvested), leeks (in the rear central area, parsnips (left hand side) and carrots in the tyre stacks nearest the camera. We've had quite a lot of carrots already and so the remaining ones have been given a break for a few weeks to grow bigger and also protected from any frost in the next few weeks with straw. The tyre stacks also keep the soil warmer and we have in the past harvested carrots right through winter. 

The nasturtiums and calendula are still providing food for the bees and other pollinators that are still active, and - although the plants can get very enthusiastic in their bid for world domination - provide good ground cover. Even when they have been hit by the first severe frosts and die off the plants rot down as a mulch during the winter



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