Tuesday, October 16

Afternoon at RSPB Old Moor

Monday, October 15

Winding down

What with the weather and various other commitments last week, we only managed one visit to the allotment.

Things are winding down but we have plenty of tidying up to do. There's no big rush though. It's going to be a case of doing bits and pieces when we can.

One big job that Martyn tackled was to cut back our apple hedge. I'm afraid with this hedge we don't go in for any 'scientific' pruning methods. It's just a case of out with the ladders and hedge cutter. The hedge still manages to produce lots of fruit.

Whilst, Martyn was busy wielding the hedge trimmer, I cleared the beds where there were remaining, dead courgette plants.

The outdoor tomatoes had come to the end of their useful life and so were also cleared. After strong winds had blown across the plot many of the remaining tomatoes littered the soil, however I managed to collect a few tomatoes to bring home.

I think this is probably the latest outdoor tomato harvest that we have achieved, at least as far back as I can remember.

We harvested a few more things too before heading home.

I think the small picking of cranberries will probably be the last of the year. All this year's fruit came from just one of our two plants. I wonder whether the other plant will make an effort next year?

After a slight frost earlier in the week, I hadn't expected the dahlias to survive. Some leaves had been blackened but there were still fresh flowers to pick. I also gathered some more statice to add to the bunches drying in a spare bedroom.
We needed to replenish our carrot stock and so we dug another forkful. This years carrots have been great so far. As we have still only used carrots from one of the varieties sown, we don't yet have any idea of how the other varieties have fared.
 Before heading home I picked a few leaves from the giant spinach..
This was used in a coconut and squash curry. 

To end, for those of you who enjoy watching videos, I've added a video of last week's activities on the plot.

This week I am linking to harvest Monday hosted on 

Dave's blog Our Happy Acres

Wednesday, October 10

Just hanging on

Monday, October 8

Living up to its name

Again we made just a couple of visits to the allotment last week but we didn't come away empty handed.
1 October
It's turned quite cold now so I don't think we will be picking any more tomatoes from the plot. The lack of blight this year has reminded us of why we grow some tomatoes outdoors. Some years ago before we had a greenhouse on the allotment we grew most of our tomatoes outdoors. At this time there were more overgrown plots than those being gardened and we were surrounded by head high weeds. I often think that this meant blight didn't spread as much as there were fewer host plants. I think it is also why tomatoes grown at home are less affected. In general I think there were less pests and diseases evident on the allotment.

We have maybe also collected the last of our apples, although there are still plenty of windfalls left for the birds to enjoy.

Most probably we have picked our last bunch of cut flowers. Last night the temperature plummeted so I am expecting the flowers to have been cut back, especially the dahlias which soon succumb to any frosty weather.

I did manage to gather more dried flower material so at least my collection should make a start to a pot pourri mixture.
5 October
We've now picked all the quinces from our Meeches Prolific quince tree. It certainly lived up to its name. It usually produces a good crop, however this year it has produced the best crop ever. We have harvested 32.6kg, (nearly 72lb). With freezers already bursting at the seams, space will need to be found for quince compote. Martyn has already made two large quince crumbles.
After a year without carrots, we are really pleased with this year's crop. So far we have only lifted one variety - Early Market - so we are hoping that the other varieties are as good. It seems all the watering has paid off here.
We have a Madeleine Sylvaner grapevine growing along one side of our shed. Up until this year the grapes have never really swelled to a size worth picking. This year the vine produced an abundance of grapes. I removed about half but we were still left with lots. This year I watered it more often, maybe in the past I haven't watered the vine enough or maybe it has just enjoyed this summer's weather.
Whatever the reason, this year the grapes swelled to a usable size so we picked them. We are not wine makers so now we have to decide what to do with them. Is there such a thing as grape compote?
Notice the single strawberry nestling on a vine leaf. It's been a poor strawberry year for us. We bought some new plants which were supposed to fruit this year. They didn't, but produced lots of runners, some of which I potted up. These have been growing on at the allotment but we decided to bring them home so that they could spend winter in a cold frame.
I have bemoaned the fact that our potato harvest has been pathetic this year. This opinion has been echoed by many other growers and in the main we have put this down to lack of water and our decision not to water our potato plants.

Reports of potato shortages featured in the news last week and a farmer suggested that the main problem for potato growers this year had been the heat more than anything else. He said potatoes stopped growing at 25C (77F)

I decided to follow this up and a search of Google resulted in lots of links to scientific papers showing results of heat on potato growth.

Sifting through all the science it seems that the top growth of potato plants is at its best when the temperatures are between 20C and 25C (68F and 70F) but that for tubers to grow well the temperatures need to be lower between 15C and 20C (59F and 68F) On top of all this tubers won't be triggered to develop if temperatures are between 23C and 30C (73.4 and 86F). The worst time for the plants to be subjected to being too warm is apparently the first half of June when most days our temperatures were 20+C (68+F). In July no days fell below 20C (68F) On top of all this lack of moisture makes the situation worse.
20 August
So from this I conclude that even if we had watered our potato plants, the heat this summer would have meant that out harvest would have been poor and that  we would have still had few larger potatoes. It sort of makes me feel better.

It looks like we'll be eating more rice and pasta this year.

Saturday, October 6

Autumn review of our allotment

The allotment is beginning to look rather bare now but if you look closely there is still rather a lot going on as I realised whilst I was filming the video below.

The video is about 12 minutes long. If you choose to view in full screen please make sure you choose the highest resolution that your equipment can manage.

I know not everyone is able or even wants to spend time watching a video so here are a few photos. As it began to rain whilst I was filming some of the photos are grabbed from the video so please excuse the quality.

Just a quick glance across the allotment and you could easily assume that there is not much growing on at this point in the year.
If you take the time to look closely, however you may be surprised.

Martyn has sown various types of green manure in a few beds. It could look as though we have let the weeds move in but the growth on the beds shown below is mainly planned (there are a few opportunist weeds). One bed is sown with grazing rye, another with mustard and a third with a mixture of varieties. 
The onion sets and garlic that I planted on 14 September are growing well. 

We haven't grown garlic for a while as it never seemed to do very well for us, however we decided to try again this year and so far it is off to a good start.
The variety of garlic is Casablanca, chosen as it was the only one available at the garden centre. I have conflicting information about whether it's a soft or hard neck variety. I'm hoping it's soft neck as  that is supposed to store better than the hard neck types. Casablanca is supposed be a good variety to grow in colder climates so I'm hoping it survives the winter. I guess that could depend on how wet it gets.
Although the winter onions haven't grown as much, they are shooting. The onions are Radar and Senshyu. I've deliberately avoided the flatter varieties as I don't find these as easy to use in the kitchen. 
We once bought a couple of cyclamen hederifolia, one pink and one white. These were planted in the garden and whilst I can understand that, with the help of the multitudes of ants that seem to be about these days, seeds would have spread around the garden, it was surprising to find them popping up all over the allotment.
We've been pleased with the brassicas this year. We made a conscious effort to do better with the winter brassicas as often these are a failure, This year we got them in the ground earlier and most are doing well. We had to buy some Purple Sprouting Broccoli plants as the ones that were grown from seed were devastated by caterpillars whilst growing on in the garden greenhouse.

The new plants were planted in two different beds which, as it turns out, was fortunate. One lot has, despite being grown under environmesh, suffered  a similar fate as the original plants. The difference was that the original plants were eaten by the caterpillars of the small white butterfly whereas these have fallen prey to large white butterfly caterpillars. The caterpillars have been removed. Whether these plants will recover is anyone's guess but at least the plants in the other bed are doing well. 
We still have some chard, giant spinach, beetroot and swede to harvest. As in previous years I don't think that the swedes have managed to produce the globe shaped roots that I was hoping for. I just don't know where we are going wrong!
The leeks are doing well and just about ready for harvesting.
Most of the hardy annual seedlings that I sowed in September are managing to survive the attentions of slugs. I'm not sure how long they will be able to hold out once the ground becomes wetter. At the moment I am still having to water seedlings.
The parsnips did exceptionally well this year. Germination was quick and it seemed like every seed germinated. The plants have grown vigorously above the ground but until we dig some we will not know how well they have formed  good roots.
After last year's carrot disaster we've been really pleased with this year's carrots. We sowed three varieties, Autumn King, Early Market and Flakee.
So far we have only harvested Early Market which have produced a good crop. The roots are variable as we don't thin them out. The roots are just left to jostle one another aside. The result is that some roots are 'interesting' shapes but we don't mind that. I wonder whether the other two varieties will be as good?
The carrots, parsnips and leeks will be left in the ground and dug as we need them. It does mean that we have some slug damage but we have found that this works for us better than trying any other suggested storage method. We just have to hope that the ground doesn't freeze too hard over winter and prevent us from harvesting.

Copyright: Original post from Our Plot at Green Lane Allotments http://glallotments.blogspot.co.uk/ author S Garrett

Tuesday, October 2

September in Pictures