Rain, rain, go away…

With all of the rain recently, it feels like the allotment has turned into a bog! We had to wait two weeks to be able to plant the trees. There was either never a long enough break in the rain to plant them or the ground was too sodden. Luckily, we were able to plant them this week.

The runner beans have finally been taken down. I removed all of the swollen bean pods and saved the seeds. I can’t believe just how big they’ve swelled. Several people have said they have never seen beans so large, so I must be doing something right! We have left the roots in the ground, as we have heard they are nitrogen rich – but sources vary. They will rot down either way, although it is advised not to plant beans in the same area as the year before.

The bean pods are ready when they have turned brown and the beans are hard.

We have finally harvested our last crop, which was celeriac. It was a win-fail crop. We were given three (or so we thought) plugs and planted them as was, but it turned out that months later the three plugs contained several plants! Our celeriac grew, but no where near to the size it should have. It varied in size, from golf ball to small orange sized. They should be around the size of swede. I don’t think we will try growing these next year.

The first seeds for next season have finally been sown. I adore sweet peas and sowing them now will ensure an earlier bloom. They are now sat in the windowsill of the shed to ensure that they germinate. Naturally, I chose a purple colour palette.

I’ll leave you with the last of the lavender blooms. I had already picked the butterfly lavender (deep purple) a month ot so ago, so I was surprised that it grew back so quickly. The English lavender only produced two stems this year, but that’s two stems more than expected! I can only hope the plants are bursting with lavender next year.

The Darker Half

How is it November already? I hope you all had a wonderful Samhain/Halloween. We have now entered the darker half of the year. How did you all celebrate? We spent our morning at the allotment and visited Kenilworth Castle later on – but I will post about that separately.

Our pumpkins did quite well, we were a little late putting them in so I am surprised that we ended up with 11! The skin on the majority of them hasn’t turned orange, but there is no rush for that to happen. They should last a while if they are stored correctly. I had to cut them off the vines earlier than I wanted, but the rain had battered the vines and left them mushy.

We don’t have a greenhouse, but this works for now! We will be eating a lot of pumpkin soup by the looks of it…

Traditionally, turnips were always used to carve Jack O’Lanterns, it is only in more recent years that pumpkins have been used. The tale of Jack I know is that he was cursed to walk between Earth and the afterlife, due to his less than honest lifestyle, with only a lump of coal for light. Jack hollowed out a turnip and placed the coal inside, ready to begin his eternal wander for a place to rest in peace.

Almost everything at our allotment has died off now, we just have a few herbs, celeriac and over wintering cabbage (if the bugs don’t eat them all beforehand). We have some ground work to do before the winter sets in, which we hope to do in the next couple of weeks.

The beans are swelling on the vines, so we will have plenty of seeds for next year. The courgettes have finally finished fruiting.

The end of Summer

We have reached the end of summer and have dived head first into autumn! The crops are almost coming to an end; the courgettes, runner beans and cucumbers have thrived on our allotment. We will certainly be growing those next year.

The only thing we have left at the moment are our little pumpkins! I’m not sure how many will be ripe enough for Halloween. We have eleven in total. I will probably use the smaller ones in cooking and give away the larger ones… with the exception of one! The leaves were attacked by mildew, but this happened because I planted them far too close together. We live and learn. A mistake I won’t make again. The vines have started to die back, although I am not sure if this is because of the mildew or because it is just that time of year! A lot of people on the allotment have perfectly healthy vines, but I have seen several plots with vines like ours. Perhaps it varies depending on the variety. They will ripen off the vine, so if a frost is forecast I will cut them off.

Before the weather changed, we were able to finally finish painting the shed. I had left the back panel unpainted, purely because we had a lot of stuff stored at the back of the shed and didn’t have a place to put it. Tom managed to get the guttering erected. We had heard that heavy rainfall was forecast, so it was a race against time. We wanted utilise the excess water whilst we could… turns out we just didn’t have enough containers for it. The first water butt was full on the first day of the downpours. We were given another which was full the day after. I don’t know just how many butts we could have filled, but at least we know the guttering works!

The terrible frosting has finally been removed from the window, Tom purchased a little metal scraper which did the job perfectly. I can’t take credit for that though, I ended up planting up the window box instead [but I can take credit for the finishing touches, as seen below!] The shed is so much lighter inside now. We have also placed the chillies in front of the window, to protect them from the cooler temperatures. They absolutely love it in there!

As mentioned in a previous post, the tomato plants died back [from what turned out to be blight] and the plot was left almost empty. The only thing that remained was the cucumber. I purchased some small fruit bushes from Aldi of all places. They were just 69p each! The larger blackcurrant bushes were reduced to £3, I purchased these from a garden centre. The ground was dug over and compost was mixed in to replenish the nutrients.

Fruit bushes; blackcurrants, gooseberries and raspberries.

The potatoes have been harvested and the ground will need to be dug over and compost added. The lettuce we planted ended up bolting, but we have left it in the ground for now as it has been too boggy to remove them. Hopefully, the constant downpours are coming to an end.

Summer feels like such a distant memory now, it hasn’t even been a month since the days became cooler. I have never been one for hot weather, but I already find myself yearning for warmer, longer days at the allotment.

One evening at the allotment.