Sunday, 4 November 2007

What a difference a day makes ...

The weather this weekend has been exceptional, but frustratingly I've had to divide my time between the house and the allotment. I spent Saturday wallpapering the small bedroom with backing paper and then had a walk to town to pay in some cheques into my new bank. Fortunately it was closed, as I realised later that the bank I'd headed to and stood outside for a bit, isn't my bank after all ! Doh, I blame the wallpaper paste fumes.

Today I got up nice and early and headed off to the lottie with my list (oh yes, a list!) of jobs. Halfway through the afternoon I met a potential new neighbour - Dennis. I went with him to view the plot and despite my best sales patter his face fell and I'm not sure that I'll see him again. It seems he had his last plot taken off him as he did not do enough to it, so perhaps it is not a bad thing if he doesn't come back. It really needs someone who is going to be dedicated and who can spend the time to bring it round. Keep your fingers crossed.

This bed has had sweetcorn all through the summer. The ratty-mice had stripped the cobs (I don't feel too bad, as the frost got to them before I could) and I chopped up the stems and added them to the compost. I dug the bed over, made the temporary paths into permanent ones and finally planted my broadbeans (aqua dulce). Next doors beans have already popped through and are looking very healthy, although some are already around 2" high - I'm not sure if they are perhaps field beans (for use as a green manure).

Broadbeans copy

Next to be cleared away were the courgettes. I've been very pleased with them this year. I grew tri-coloured balls and they behaved very nicely (only had a couple of canon ball sized ones). Perhaps it was the weather, or maybe the position, but this year I've been able to stay on top of them and we've actually enjoyed them, vs endured them. Will definitely be growing the same variety next season. This bed has been dug over, but as it will not get much sun during the winter I'll leave it empty.

The remaining cabbages still look pretty good, but OH just is not interested in trying them. The pigeons have obviously been enjoying fresh greens and with a little amount of regret I have pulled them up - they will go to the compost heap next time. The soil under the cabbages is frightenly dry - almost dusty. It didn't take much effort to dig over the bed and it has now been planted up with my Germidour Garlic. I love garlic and I really hope that we get bigger bulbs this year. The Cristo Garlic is in the brick bed. I must remember that I have wrongly labelled the garlic and broadbean beds (LOL, must be those paste fumes again).

Garlic copy

Surprisingly my runner beans were still producing pods and I could even see a couple of flowers. The frost doesn't seem to have touched them at all. It took ages to untangle the canes and I'd forgotten that I'd planted a butternut squash underneath them (not a fruit in sight though). Most of the plants are now on the compost heap, but I've dug a few into the soil, in the hope that the nitrogen will be locked in.

RunnerBeanBed copy

Here is the plot, looking up towards the entrance. The sweetpeas and sweetcorn are now on the compost heap. I still need to dig over this whole area. It was finished in quite a rush last season, but I've very pleased on the whole that the area is relatively weed free. I know that I will find a few bindweed roots when I dig it over, but it is not bad at all.

plot4 copy

This shot is with my back to the greenhouse, still looking up to the entrance.

Plot3 copy

This is from entrance looking down the length of the plot. The brick bed in the foreground has my Cristo garlic in it, but it seems to be one of the foxes favourite places to practise their dancing! I wish they would step up their rodent patrols - a little brown bugger appeared from the tyre wall next door as I was leaving.

plot2 copy

This is the other side, looking down still. The broadbean bed is inthe foreground, then the garlic, green manure (rye - looks like grass), overwintering onions with Jerusalem Artichokes at the right hand side of the bed and then the flower bed.

plot copy

My Red Electric Onions are looking very well. They are still very small, but are very green and look quite happy in their bed. I hope that next season is better for onions - I don't think my crop from this season is going to last very long. They seem to be developing an outside skin, halfway through the onion and then rotting from there out. There was far too much rain for them last year.

RedOnions copy

My peppers are teaching me a thing or two about patience and looking super in the process. This is the last plant (and also the best) still at the lottie. It is in the brick greenhouse, which next year will be the pepper house. I'll be cropping them in the next couple of weeks.

red peppers copy

The buckwheat has finally succummed to the cold, so I decided to dig over the bed. It looks so much better - but I ran out of time and inclination, so still need to do its neighbour. The bees finally seem to have hibernated, so I won't feel so bad about digging the Phacelia in.

GreenManureBed copy

Here are my musselbrough leeks. They are starting to fill out nicely:

Leek copy

This is the very last Globe Artichoke still in flower. I've cut the heads off all of the other plants and have left them on the hedge for the birds (I presume they will eat the seeds ?)

GlobeArtichoke copy

A trip to Lidls the other day rewarded me with a Crab Apple Tree (Malus Red Sentinel) and a Bramley Cooking Apple Tree. For now they have a temporary home behind the greenhouse. When I have a bit more time I will move the Bramley apple nearer to the carrot bath at the end of the plot. I have no idea whether I'll get any fruit next year, or whether perhaps they are a longer term prospect - but I have my fingers crossed for apple pie and crab apple jelly. (the photo is of the crab apple).

Crab Apple copy

Remember my carrot bath ? It started off so well in Spring, but the carrots never really got going. I think covering them with fleece was not such a good idea - I don't think much rain got through it and I think the carrots dried out too much and their foliage died. Once the fleece was removed (around August I think), the carrot tops bushed up again, but the carrots are a pitiful size.

CarrotBath copy

If anyone has any top tips on growing carrots I'd be very interested to hear them. Next season, I intend to make a fleece or mesh fence, which will be open to the elements. The bath is filled with river sand & compost.

Carrots copy

Here is my compost heap. It is pretty sizeable now that I've filled it. I'm not sure it'll get hot enough though, as it is open at one side. I really must try and get hold of some more pallets and make another 'wall'.

CompostHeap copy

The alpine strawberries look gorgeous in the weak sunshine - and taste lovely too. I've managed to get a couple of baby plants, so hopefully next year I'll have doubled my crop.

AlpineStrawberry copy

This fushia used to live in my back yard and is temporarily living at the allotment. It is hanging on to summer and just has a few flowers left. We've had several frosts now, so it is doing very well. Over winter I will move it one of the greenhouses, along with my bay tree, fatsia japonica and geranium.

Fushia copy

The Verbena is still going strong - it looks so pretty and delicate. I hope it does lots of self seeding. The Ox Eye Daisies are just beginning to go over.

Verbena copy

All in all not bad for November. I feel much better now that I've at least got my garlic and broadbeans in. There are still lots of things left on the list, but they'll have to wait. The most urgent I guess is lifting the final potato bed - not sure what to expect, especially as it'll be a couple of weeks at least I think until I can get back.