October has seen the allotment turning from a jubilant carpet of colour to a more sombre autumn pallet. Flowerheads are giving way to seed pods, spent foliage is dying down and there is more and more clear(ish) ground to be seen.
As we are pulling up the annuals and vegetable stalks a final harvest is coming our way – amazing how many beans have been hiding under those leaves and how many seed pods are falling off those nasturtiums. We had rather a lot of these useful and pretty plants this year – somehow we did not realise how far and wide a single plant would spread. Did you know that you can eat their flowers and use the seeds in lieu of capers? There is still a bit of a glut of leeks and cabbages as well, so it’ll be leek and potato soup and a myriad of cabbage recipes in the next few weeks.
Some of the cleared beds will be hosting some winter crops – there is already a meticulous line of onions peeping out of the soil and the plan is to plant some green manure to give the soil a boost for next year. The rest of the beds will be covered over for the winter months while we start thinking about next year’s planting. There are a few ‘notes to self’ hanging around the shed to remind us of the lessons learned this year…
Autumn is also the time of year for building projects and general maintenance on the plot. We have been busy turning over and sorting out the compost bins, adding some horse manure for extra ‘umpf’. Nice and messy job, but great fun…
Over the last couple of months the pond has been filling with weeds causing the water to go rather green. So one of the jobs this month has been to clear it and add some pond plants to help the little ecosystem.
The good news is that the pond is very popular with the local frog population. In fact we have started a transport service from 19b on the other side of the road to ensure they all get a chance to have a dip.
The other project this month has been the ‘strawberry fence’:
There are a lot of strawberry runners around the plot and while the old mother plants are not producing any relevant harvest anymore, the young plants hopefully could. In order to save planting space in the beds we were trying to find a more high-rise solution and came up with the idea to convert some (kindly donated) pallets into planters. Being newbies at fence building it may not be the straightest of arrangements, but it is stable and decidedly a better looking fence than the green plastic netting that was there before. Once kitted out with weed-surpressing fabric and fresh compost (see above) the strawberries can move in and picking should be a doddle at that height…
More from the allotment next month when we’ll be closing things down to go into hibernation. Come and see us at 41A Cricket Pitch View at the Stevens Street Allotments in Market Harborough every Monday between 11am and 2pm if the weather is dry.
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