Sunday, 23 October 2016

End of year allotment update...

So another year almost over, things seem to be going by so quickly now, it feels like yesterday that we were getting the plot ready for this year, and now I've already started getting it ready for next year.

Here's where the plot was at towards the end of July -

Things are coming along.
As usual some weeding was needed, but not too much, the squash plants we put in late were growing well, along with other stuff, so in July we harvested what we could, spuds, beans (french and broad beans) strawberries, rhubarb and other things and also by this time we were starting to get some courgettes as well.

The spoils of war (with the weeds) - 

All very tasty.

And that was July, on wards to August.

As the plot was pretty much okay we decided to make a few changes to things, firstly the area we call the compost bin needed sorting out, I had patched it up a few years ago but the wood was starting to fail.

So using the old metal panels I had left over from the shed we put on the plot a couple of years ago and some old steel poles form the kids old climbing frame (which had been in the loft for the best part of ten years) I set about making a new compost area.

Not much to it really, I've made it so one part can be removed so we can get at the compost with out having to climb all over it, but other than that it was just a case of replacing wood with metal, which should last a bit longer.

Compost bin done, what next ? - 

Much neater.

Ah yes, now as our plot is a half plot and due to the way it was divided it has caused some confusion as to where our plot ends and the other half begins, so to that end we started making the divide a lot clearer, in the hope that this will make things easier to tell what plot belongs to who when it comes to inspections, for reason I won't go into here.

All we did was use some bamboo canes to make the divide that was already there a lot more obvious, this we hope will make life easier.

Not much of a fence, but it is clearer now where each plot is - 

That should do it (famous last words)

All done, our plot is the plot to the left of this fence if you will, the bit without the large pile of wood on it, so what else needs doing ?

Well we did have some plants (kale etc) in the greenhouse at home that needed planting out, so we did that, and we put a wire mesh frame over them to stop the butterflies getting in, we have two of these frames now with various things growing in them and fingers crossed I can use the to stop next years Pak choi from being eaten by the pigeons.

All protected - 

Will work for butterflies, now just need to stop the slugs.

More things were harvested - 

It was a good year for courgettes.

Towards the end of August we were beginning to wonder about pumpkins, we had a couple of the Jacko lantern type, which looked like they might be a good size but apart from those none of the other pumpkins were showing any signs of fruiting.

Jacko lantern pumpkins (bought the seeds from Wilkinsons) - 

Nearly ready for picking.

Now this may sound a bit odd, given how fast these plants can grow perhaps not, you see even though I had been watering the plot every few days because of the hot weather I hadn't noticed two small pumpkins growing, maybe I thought that given the lateness of the year they wouldn't amount to much, I was wrong, but more about them later.

Here they are, still quite small - 

Two separate pumpkins on separate plants.

Anyway on to September, not much going on really, picking a few things on the days when I went to water, courgettes mainly, it's a good job my wife makes a great relish out of them (opens in new window) and despite it being September I was already planning for next year.

More pumpkins and squashes - 

Some of these were quite large.

I put in some onions, some were shop bought ones and some were the very smallest ones left over from this years crop and I've put in some garlic and shallots, the shallots were, like the onions the smaller ones we had left over, the garlic is just from shop bought garlic.

I've also decided to experiment with green manure this year as well, the soil at the top end of the plot needs improving and I figured this might be a good way to do it, so I sowed a patch of green manure with the view to growing next years pumpkins and squashes there.

Onions (snowball is the variety) for next year - 

Not much to look at yet.
Shallots and garlic in - 

Not much here either.
Green manure (Mr Fothergill's Autumn/Winter mix) patch sown - 

Again not much to look at.

Two weeks later and the green manure was showing signs of life - 

Won't be long before I cut it back.

The idea with green manure is you sow it and then either dig it in and then after a couple of weeks you can grow what you want in the space, the plants in green manure are picked because they add nutrients to the soil, some types you sow and then dig in after a few weeks, the type I'm using is one that you can sow and cut back and then nearer to when you want to use the soil you would then dig it in.

And as long as you don't let the plants set seed you can in theory keep allowing it to grow and cut it back throughout the winter months and then in spring dig it all over and after a couple of weeks you should then have nice improved soil, at least that's the theory, whether it works like that in practise, well we'll see.

It does grow fast (this was a month later at the start October) - 

Where did I put those shears?
And so we get to October, so far this month I have harvested the last pumpkins and squashes, the carrots and started sorting things out for next year, I've sown another patch of green manure and also sown two lots of broadbeans to over winter, and around March time I will sow another lot of broadbeans along with what ever we decide to grow next year, more of the same I think.

Here was the plot at the start of this visit - 

Some tidying is needed.

The first job for this visit was to cut back the green manure - 

It took about five minutes with some shears.

And after a few hours this is what the plot looked like, ready for winter almost - 

Unlike like cutting back the green manure this took four hours.

Some now we have things sorted, I will pay a few visits to the plot over winter as there are still things growing and things to be harvested and no doubt weeds to be pulled, but all in all it's been a good year for us anyway.

Just before I go you may remember the two pumpkins I mentioned earlier in this post, well as it turns out they grew quickly and they grew quickly enough to be the largest pumpkins I've ever managed to grow, between them they weigh about 25.5kg one weighs in at 13.3kg and the other 12.2kg so even though they were late I was wrong to think they wouldn't amount to much and as is usually the case mother nature has proved me wrong once again.

I have since decided that because I am quite proud of them they should be entered into the competition our council has for squashes grown on allotment plots, they may not win anything, but you never know.

Pumpkins !!! - 

Pumpkins !!!

Thanks for reading.

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