20 October 2008

Autumn = Leaves and Manure

Bright (!) and early on Sunday morning, I set off to await the manure delivery I was sharing with my allotment neighbour Dan (on plot no 1). Farmer arrived 15 mins late due to a 'heavy night', and I can't say I envied him the job as he had several more deliveries to make! Unfortunately, it doesn't appear to be as well rotted as last year, it was certainly smellier. On the plus side that meant it was lighter to shift than last year.

More than one barrow load...
After the disappointment of just how little leaf mould was actually produced from last years leaf collection, I've decided to scale up 'production'. Chris from one of the neighbouring allotments gave me a couple of old builders sacks to try out the 'pub theory' (see previous entry) and ever since I've been trying to fill them. Approximately 20 bin bags of leaves later, they're almost full - and that's not counting the old leaf basket that I've also filled again.

Fortunately Sheffield is very green and has lots of mature trees. I decided to check out the nearby (posh) tree lined suburbs for supplies. This was going very well (so long as you ignore the strange looks!) until I was driving round them and struggling to find any leaves. They either paid someone to come and take them away or the council beat me to the clearing them up. So I had to do a bit more driving than I thought I would but think I'm just about there now. It also amazing at just how heavy a bin bag full of wet leaves can be when you've squeezed as many as possible in there.

The leaf bags are at the top of the plot just above the top bed. There's plenty of room there and a couple of comfrey plants growing there. After watching Gardener's World the other night I decided to relocate my other (larger) comfrey plants up to this spot as well. This will be the second move in two years for the comfrey plants, but they didn't seem to mind the move last year. They could also probably cope with being split as well. The only reason I can think of for not moving it, is that it is doing a good job at containing the Jerusalem artichokes in the corner of the plot they are currently in.

"Why does the car smell of beer?"
After dropping the mother in law off at the station I then spent the next half an hour getting lost in the new ring road system, trying to avoid fines for going down bus gates, getting stuck in traffic, etc. all in an attempt to find the local brewery to pick up some spent hops for the plot. When I eventually got there loaded up the boot with a few bags which I then took straight to the plot, putting one on the compost heap and the rest as a mulch on part of next years brassica bed. Now there is a the combined smell of beer and manure at the top of the plot. Lovely.

I planted the garlic, this year putting it in two rows at opposite ends of the bed, so be interested to see which is best. I used a couple of bulbs harvested this year. I know you're not really supposed to do this, but I did it last year and the garlic did really well. The cloves were really big as well so fingers crossed, as ever.

Dug over another few metres of the bed that's going to be home to next years brassicas, incorporating the remains of last years manure - definitely well rotted now.

Sadly no picture for this one as the battery was completely dead when I came to take the pictures ;>(

6 October 2008

First order of the 'season'

Well the email to say the new Real Seeds catalogue was out, proved too difficult to pass over. So the following was ordered:

    Cherokee Trail of Tears - again - not sure what happened to this years sowing as I got Borlotti beans where I thought I'd planted them!

    Summer Crookneck Squash - hopefully an improvement on this years summer squash

    Parisian Pickling or Salad Cucumber - again - this time I'm hoping to get some planted out before the slug get them

    Leek (Jaune de Poitou)

    Leek (Bleu de Solaise) - bit disappointed with the varieties I've tried in the past (Bandit and Pandora)

    Leaf Selection Coriander

    Pea (Telephone) - again, this time the ambition is to eat some before they are eaten by something else

    Waltham Butternut Squash - managed to grow pumpkins this year, hoping for third time lucky with these

    Double Standard Sweetcorn

    Tomato (Aurora)

    Tomato (Red Cluster Pear) - the plan being to seriously cut back on the number of plants grown this next year, so hoping for lots off these.

"Why is her pumpkin bigger than mine?"

Last weekend consisted of one day of glorious warm sunshine and the other of cold and rain. I went down to the plot on the latter day...

With the nights getting colder thought it was probably time to pick the second (and last) pumpkin. It's not orange, but it does weigh just under 2 stone! Daughter was suitably impressed with 'her' pumpkin though. After picking it the pumpkin plants were removed to the compost bin, pretty much filling it on their own.

I also cleared away the pile of rubbish at the top of the plot near the entrance, to make to pile of rubbish under the tree larger. It's obviously never going to dry out enough to burn so best hope it rots away over the winter. Wishful thinking. The plan is to store this years leaves in this space, once collected. My original thoughts of making a new leaf basket from chicken wire have been put on hold after discussion in the pub the other night as to weather the big builders sacks that sand, gravel, etc come in would do the. Now just need to go looking in skips for the old sacks...

Apple Day

It's getting cold and windy. Well it was, so I thought. Certainly windier than it has been which was a good enough excuse to pick the apples from plot no 2. Still none the wiser as to what they are, but there's an apple day in Sheffield this weekend, so might take them along there to see if anyone has any ideas. It's also surprising just how many there were.

I wrapped about 40 in newspaper for storing in the outhouse and the rest need to be used up. So to start, I made 7 jars of spiced apple chutney using apples, chillies and onions all of which were grown by me. Think I may have overdone the chilli a bit though...

A Path

The path down the middle of the plot has been a long time in the making. The weed fabric I used to line the path has been fixed to the scaffolding boards on the 'veg side' of the plot but I never put any boards on the 'fruit side', as I ran out of them. My neighbour Dan had some left over and kindly let me have some so I put these in and fixed the weed fabric on the other side now and the resulting path looks quite good even if I say so myself - the picture is only half way through the job and it helps if you ignore the mess at the end of the plot! It's not particularly straight but then neither is anything else on the allotment!

Finally managed to get enough Borlotti beans to make a meal. They look great both before and after podding. There are still plenty more growing, but how long they'll survive I don't know.

Let the digging commence
I've dug over about a third of the bed where the beans are still growing. The plan was to grow winter tares here, but since the beans are still occupying most of this bed, I added a lot of manure as I was digging it and then scattered some rock dust on top. It's certainly a lot easier to dig over than it was last year, so with less weeds more fertility fingers crossed for next year!

Should be getting some more manure delivered next week - if I remember to order it - which I'll largely be throwing on the bed for next years potatoes. I was hoping to grow Hungarian Grazing Rye and Buckwheat there, but I think I've just been feeding the local bird population again.

I've also started digging the area where the pumpkins and squash were growing. There are a lot of weeds in there so it'll probably need digging over a couple of times I reckon to get most of them out. Can't decide what to plant there next though.