AUTUMN HARVEST


The mild weather appears to be prolonging the harvest season. This week I have harvested a bumper crop of vegetables. In the pollytunnel the “lead” tomato plant is up to its 14th truss and I’m picking from truss 8. I’m still feeding weekly with Maxicrop Tomato Feed from the shop, which definitely seems to be working. Gardeners Delight are slowing down a little but my maincrop of Zenith are still growing away.

Also in the pollytunnel I’ve just planted out some Pack Choi and 60 day broccoli seedlings which hopefully will provide a winter crop.

In the greenhouse I’ve started to dig out some sweet potatoes which I’ve grown in three large 50 cm pots. This is my first year trying sweet potatoes and so far so good. I’ve pulled out 5 fairly large potatoes so far and the taste is excellent. My guess is that from the 3 pots I will achieve around 20 potatoes, not prolific but enough. I’ve also managed to root around 15 sweet potato cuttings which I’ll keep protected throughout winter and plant up next year. Also in the greenhouse the aubergines, peppers, and chillies are still growing – plus I’ve still have a couple of cucumbers ready to pick.

I grow carrots in the pollytunnel in a raised box, mainly to keep the carrot fly at bay but also to thwart Boris the badger who a couple of years ago took a liking to our carrots. I fill the box with sand and then drill holes in the sand and fill with enhanced sieved compost. A bit of a faff but excellent results with the added advantage that the carrots will stay in the box throughout winter for pulling when required. The variety I grow is Sweet Candle.

Outside I’m harvesting beetroot, cauliflowers, celeriac, sweed, spinach, potatoes from pots, kale, cabbages, plus a late flush of runners. The latest potato I’m picking out is Axona, which we’re liking – a nice flavour for good all round use. It’s a Sarpo variety, supposedly more resistant to blight (not that we had any this year) and much more flavoursome than Sarpo Miro.

The pumpkin plants have been taken up and the ground weeded and rotovated. This was on a plot I took over a year ago which was in a terrible mess. I’ll share my method of clearing and cultivating a new plot in a separate blog. The pumpkin area was about a third of the plot and was planted with pumpkins in the first year because the plants spread and suppress. Well, it mainly worked as though the pumpkin plants covered the area, a lot of weeds also grew. So after I cut off the pumpkins for storing elsewhere I had to clear the area – this I do by hand. The annual weeds I skim off with a spade and pick up for composting. The perennial root weeds I dig out as best I can, I never chase the roots, the constant removal and disturbance will weaken the plants and they will quite quickly give up and go elsewhere. After the weeds are cleared there is no need to dig so I lightly rotovate. In total it took 5 hours to complete the area which as I said is about a third of the total plot. It can now be left untouched until next winter.

On the same plot I planted another third of the area with butternuts and these are still growing. I’ve picked a few but I’ll leave the rest for a few more weeks for them to ripen and sweeten a little more.

The dahlia plants are still growing strongly and I’m still cutting regularly the flowers for home. The variety Pooh is doing exceptionally well. It’s a colourette variety with flat flower heads of yellow and red. The flowers will last until the first frost, and then it’s time to dig up the tubers for storage in a frost free place until they are brought back to life in January in the heated propagator to generate cuttings for the cycle to start all over again next year.

The joy of allotments.

If you have any comments or questions please contact me on btsoom@btinternet.com

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