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A YEAR IN THE LIFE OF OUR PLOT.
First week of the month and we have had some much needed rain. There is definitely a feel of autumn in the air and still lots to do on the plot. Picking up and disposing to the compost bin any fallen yellowing brassica leaves is a daily task. Remember 'rotting leaves create diseases'. Crops that have finished such as the Sweet corn have also been consigned to the compost bin and the ground turned in. I am regularly hoeing all vacant ground now to keep the weeds at bay.
The last of the main crop potatoes have been lifted and safely stored away in sacks for the winter. I have a late crop of French Beans just starting to crop and should give us some tasty beans just as the runners are finishing. I am now harvesting main crop carrots, Autumn King and Sytan these should see us well into December.
John has been busy laying another path on the fruit plot with some more second hand paving slabs - from our own garden this time.
On the 2nd of September, sheds were again broken into and many plot holders had to make extensive repairs yet again. Very little was actually taken but this is the 4th time this year.
Onions have now dried off nicely and I have been plaiting them on to strings for Winter storage.
First tie a length of twine into a loop and hang it somewhere strong enough to take the weight of at least 10lbs of onions. John put a strong nail in the doorway of the shed for me.
In a figure of 8, loop a large onion on the bottom
Continue to add more onions in this way
Until you have a good string.
Trim any long ends and store in a light frost free place. Check every so often for any that may start to shoot or rot. Any onions with thick necks. should be used first as these will not keep very long.
The second half of the month has again been very wet. The dry spells in between giving me time to dig up split clumps of polyanthus and replant in the borders. Some of the bedding is now going over and has been consigned to compost heap. Bedding 'mums and Asters are giving a nice late show of colour.
On the vegetable plot, I am harvesting a late crop of young sweet beetroot - Detroit Ball, French Beans and Celeriac. Although most of the Celeriac ran to seed earlier in the year what is left, has made up in size with very good white flesh.
I have also planted Japanese onion sets 'Radar' which hopefully will give me good sized onions to use from next May onwards throughout the summer.
Due to the wet and windy weather, the gathering up of fallen apples is a daily task before they rot but some I leave for the birds to enjoy.
Between the heavy rain falls I have been able to plant out some new strawberries, variety 'Emily' and about 100 wallflower plants to give us some nice Spring colour.
Most of my time now is spent recording the progress of the artificial badger sett being constructed on the conservation area. Click here to see what is happening
25th October and it has been a lovely day. I have at last spent a good day on the plot gathering up all the old summer bedding plants and consigning it to the compost heap. I have also picked the last of the apples.
We did not escape the storms of the week-end of the 28th/29th October. Most of our plot (and the whole allotment site) is under water. The fruit trees have been lifted by the strong winds and will need firming back in and staking if we are not to loose them. Many supporting structures have been blown down. There will be a lot of work to do repairing the damage when the water has subsided. At this time I am not sure what winter vegetables will survive. The leeks look OK but the root vegetables I fear will rot.
This was 2 cordon pears and a fan trained gooseberry.
. . . . . .
November has started the same way as October finished. We are still flooded and there is little we can do until this dreadful weather has subsided. I have made my first picking of sprouts and parsnips which despite the wet conditions are very good.
21st November and we are still unable to get on to the plot. With very few breaks in the weather, we are still under water.
30th November - no change in the weather or the state of our plot. With wellies on we are able to dig (or I should say pull) the leeks and parsnips but the carrots are now deteriorating fast with the wet and will not last us much longer. No hope of getting on the ground untill the water has subsided.
What can I say about December? Rain and more rain. It will be Spring now before we will be able to get on to the plot, but with the mild temperatures the bulbs are already showing through. I have harvested the last of the carrots but we still have plenty of parsnips and leeks. The Kale is holding up despite the gales and I have made several pickings. As soon as the weather permits John will give all the fruit trees and bushes a Winter Tar Wash.
The plot on 14th December.
Like all gardening years, it has been a year of swings and round a bouts but we have learnt some valuable lessons this year. I will definitely make more use of the horticultural fleece. My experiment with the carrots paid off and the ones that were left un-covered were attacked with the dreaded carrot fly but not those under the fleece. It was also very effective in keeping the black leaf hopper off the early sowings of brassicas and again those that were covered were much better and produced an earlier crop.
John's potato trials proved as we had thought, that the red varieties do best on our soil. We will continue to grow, Vanessa (2nd early) and Kondor for main crop. Both of these are storing well in hessian sacks (purchased from Marshalls) in our garage despite the damp conditions.
Although most of the plot holders on our site complained of blight on their tomatoes we found the cherry variety Red Pear and Yellow Pear had very little to speak of. Another one we will grow again.
Of the 2 Runner beans we grew, White Lady proved to be the heaviest cropper with long straight very tasty beans. Painted Lady faired well and I will still continue to grow both of them.
My biggest disappointment was the Celeriac (this is our favourite Winter vegetable) running to seed early but think this was due to the erratic watering. I will try to do better next year.
We now look forward to a new gardening year in 2001. To follow our Diary for 2001 please click here. If there is anything you would like to see featured on this site please let me know and I will see what I can do. Our Best Wishes to you all for the coming Season.
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