I’ve been doing my impression of a headless chicken again, rushing around (mentally, rather than physically) trying to catch up with things. Given that I have over 70 unread emails, I’m not doing terribly well, but I am gradually working my way through them, catching up on blogs, finding plumbers, choosing tiles…
Anyway, one of the things I have got behind on is blogging myself. I’ve been taking photos and not getting around to writing the posts. They appear in my head but somehow I never get around to putting finger to keyboard – or not for that, anyway. Too distracted by finding a new outside light and someone to fit it. But enough! It is high time I posted about the allotment, I have come to rely on the blog as a record of what works and what doesn’t.
Yesterday I ventured up to the allotment and picked beans, mangetout and raspberries under grey skies. Since it was also blowing a near-gale, I am using photos from an earlier, sunnier, windless day, last week, when I could still sit outside with a mug of tea pondering. A day with clear blue skies to set off the almost-changing leaves on the trees.
A day when I could enjoy the sun on silky thistles and the daisies that are stubbornly growing in the middle of the winter crops.
The “beast” of the post title is Carrot Fly. I experimented with my carrots – as with pretty much everything else. I protected some with fleece, initially in tent form and then as a 40cm high barrier around the patch. The rest I left au naturel, but accompanied by garlic chives, spring onions and marigolds. I prefer the “no protection” look, but having enjoyed meal after meal of tasty and perfect carrots from the protected patch, I then picked these:
So much for my plan for carrots through the autumn, I had to pull the lot just in case I could stop it spreading to them all. I got one meal from them. So, next year all my carrots will be protected with mesh, all year.
My sprouts aren’t exactly beastly, but they are worryingly short. I had dreams of home grown purple sprouts for Christmas Day dinner. I suppose they might suddenly put on a growth spurt, but really, it doesn’t look good.
They are pretty, healthy, but short. Particularly when compared to the ones next door:
On the other hand, the beans have been great, and only yesterday I picked so many ‘Cherokee Trail of Tears’ beans that I had to blanch and freeze them. I’ll definitely be growing them again next year. I’ll also be growing these:
‘Oregon Sugar Pod’ mangetout. Delicious, and heavy-cropping too. I did an early sowing in Spring and then another “chance my arm” sowing in late summer, and this year at least it paid off. I’ll hope to do successional sowing of these next year, if I can get organised enough, assuming I am not too busy packing boxes or looking for a new house!
We are also getting a really good crop from the ‘Cupidon’ dwarf French beans, which can get really long (over 10cm) and are delicious from tiny (and eaten raw in salads) to long and still slender (gently steamed).
The only downside that I can see is that they are hard to pick, as the beans are exactly the same colour as the leaves and stalks. So, I will probably sow more next year, but I will also go back to the yellow dwarf beans, which are so much easier to find!
The biggest surprise has been the raspberries. I planted a dozen new plants in the Spring, as soon as I had cleared enough ground to get them in, nothing fancy, just ‘Autumn Bliss’, assuming that we would only get a minimal crop with this being their first year. Instead we have been picking them steadily since late July, up to three times a week, and they have been delicious.
Now that we are moving in to Autumn, I am busy sowing more green manure, trying to decide where I can put my nursery bed, and wondering how soon I could see if the Jerusalem Artichokes are any good. At least they are finally flowering, which adds a welcome splash of colour.
Not that colour has been exactly lacking on the plot this year. When I originally got the plot I had great plans for a cutting garden. More accurately, I planned to have three borders filled with flowers, which I would cut and bring back to the house. Plans changed and I ended up with just two thin beds and flowers crammed in amongst the veges, but it has been really successful.
I’ve still got dahlias and marigolds brightening up the beetroot patch, the cosmos that took over from the sweet peas are still going strong, and the snap dragons have been flowering their colourful socks off for months now.
The only real failure has been my lack of consistency in cutting them and taking them home for the house. I can’t bring myself to. Even though I know most of them will flower even better if I do. So I will leave you with pictures of the sunflowers, which have been late but wonderful, and willgo and give myself another talking to about remembering to cut at least some for the house before they are over…