Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Autumn has arrived ...

It's been pretty quiet up at the lottie recently, there is not much happening really apart from harvesting produce. I really should be thinking about resuming digging, but I can't quite motivate myself yet. I'll have to get on with it soon though, as I have decided that my plot definitely needs a plum tree. I think I'm going to go for a Victoria as they seem reliable, heavy croppers and are very versatile. I want to put it in front of the compost area. I'd really like an apple tree too, perhaps a bramleys but I've heard that they can grow quite big and don't always give a good crop.

I'm still harvesting beans, courgettes, potatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes, aubergines (baby ones), peppers and enjoyed my first sweetcorn earlier this week. I meant to take a photo of the cobs, but they looked so good and were so tasty that I clean forgot. As I wiped away the butter from around my mouth I remembered ! Oops. I'm never completely sure when sweetcorn are ready, but a couple of the cobs have been nibbled (hopefully by my vole family and not my ratty family, but you know allotmenters can't be too choosey) so I'm going to keep a close eye on them.

These are my temptation melons. The vine that they were growing on died a few weeks ago and I left them covered by perspex to try and ripen them. They are now sat on my lounge windowsill. There was also a very tiny one that I just had to try - it was delicious and very juicy, so I'm looking forward to trying them.

Temptation copy

I've decided next year to give them space in the potting shed (if it is still standing) and I will sacrifice the aubergines, which for the second year running have really been a waste of space (6 plants have yielded two very small aubergines)

Autumn is definitely on its way, but I'm pleased to see that there are still plenty of bugs around the plot. This is a green shield bug on a poppy head:

GreenshieldBug copy

Although I love this time of year, its a reminder that winter is not far away - it has been fairly windy in Sheffield lately and the roads leading to the allotment site are suddenly covered in golden leaves. The bushes are laden with berries, so I wonder if we are in for a hard winter this season. I hope not, need to finish my digging before the end of spring (and I haven't even started yet). I have lots of sunflower heads to keep the birds happy over winter ... if I can keep the vole family off them.

OH has been filling up the waterbutts for me as we've not had any rain for ages - we seem to be getting extremes of weather which is not good for the plot. Each waterbutt has either got mosquitos buzzing around or things darting about in the water. Two of them have boatmen (or maybe backswimmers) in them - I know they are 'baddies' but they are so beautiful to look at. I wonder how they survive over winter.

boatman copy

The green manures are doing well, I'm very pleased that I have sown them, although I'm rather regretting putting in the Nick's rye since he informed me that the reason they do so well is because the inhibit growth of all other plants ! Apparently only clover is unaffected. I found an opened packet of cauliflower seeds last weekend, so I've been able to use my own potting compost for the first time. I'll be checking progress on Saturday and as the weather has been particularly nice lately I decided to try a late crop of carrots in the brick bed, where the temptation melons were. They are under perspex, so we'll see if anything happens.

I called the allotment office last week to enquire about progress with finding me a new lottie neighbour. The plot next to me has not been worked for as long as I have had my plot and it is now rampant with weeds and brambles. The allotment officer assures me that a notice to quit takes effect at the end of this month and that I should have a new neighbour shortly. I pity them, it will be horrendous clearing the plot now that it is in such a state. The waiting list has over 80 people on it apparently - which is stunning when you look at the state of quite a few of the unworked plots. Ho hum, we'll see what happens next month. Good job the brambles are nearly finished :-) Wonder if the apples are ready for harvesting ?