Winds of change

The final transition into autumn is a special time of year for me, the trees start to shed their leaves, temperatures drop and the skies are frequently blue and crisp.

On the allotment there is a lingering smell of plot holders burning their spent crops while others are giving one last flourish of productivity before it goes quiet over winter so it’s all about watching for the first frosts and harvesting in time.

In the kitchen I’m busy pickling beetroot, courgettes and cucumbers, making sauces and soups with our glut of tomatoes, storing potatoes and freezing bags of beans and sweetcorn for the dark winter months.

Last weekend it was time to compost the last of the Cobra French beans. My six plants have been absolutely fantastic this year and had I bought my harvests in the supermarket, would have cost £52.

I’ve also had a beady eye on my pumpkins, regularly checking their progress and monitoring the best time to harvest and start the curing process. A couple of weeks back I placed bricks under each golden globe to stop them rotting but I’ve now noticed that some of the underdeveloped pumpkins have started to rot and the leaves dying back which is a sure sign the plants are nearing the end of their life and concentrating their efforts on the fruits already produced. As a little experiment I decided to cut one open to see what it looked like. Rather like a lemon it seems!

The last chance saloon

Now is a good time to make the last sowings of the year which I always do with a tinge of sadness. I will be planting garlic in the polytunnel next month but after that it will be too cold for seeds to germinate and/or make sturdy plants to see them through the winter months so that will be that for another year until next February when I’ll start off my chillies.

My last sowings of the year: winter density lettuce, spring onion, sorrell, rocket, coriander and perpetual spinach.


Under cover

In the polytunnel I’m drying sunflowers for bird feed. I’ll hang these outside in a couple of weeks although I strongly suspect the pesky squirrels may get their grubby paws on them first!

You can also see I’ve stripped nearly all the leaves off my tomatoes so that their last hurrah is spent ripening the fruit rather than sustaining the foliage. I’ll probably take most of the green tomatoes home to ripen there.

and finally…

My last job was to sow some green manure along the side of the polytunnel. Partly to replenish the soil but also to project the edges for when the winter winds blow in!


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