Monday, October 30

Harvesting resumed

After a week of enforced absence the previous week, last week we managed to get to the plot. As well as tackling some long overdue tasks we also harvested a few things.
24 October
The small green cabbages were a bonus. They were actually regrowths from the cut stumps left in the ground. The red cabbage was probably our smallest specimen and was cooked with the cranberries that were picked earlier. It's a new recipe and the whole batch was frozen so we hope that we like it. 
The grapes are from the vine trained on the shed wall. I tried the fruit and it had ripened but the grapes are small and a bit weathered. We seem to be heading in the right direction for a decent crop and really just need a good summer to help us along.
One surprise was the three ripe strawberries that the slugs and birds hadn't managed to find. 
You may have noticed in the first photograph that incredibly, the sweet peas are still flowering and I managed to pick a small bunch.

However, it was the chrysanthemums that provided us with a bumper crop of cut flowers.

Each colour came from just one plant. 
What is more surprising is that the original plants were potmums bought from the local supermarket and initially kept as house plants.

When it had finished flowering it was kept in the greenhouse overwinter and then planted outside. Potmums are kept small by treating them with growth hormones but once they are planted outside in the ground they revert to their natural size.
Over the years I have looked out for flowers in different colours in order to obtain a collection of different colours. Not all the colours are flowering at the moment but the ones that are open are providing some lovely cut flowers.

At last some of the peppers in the plot greenhouse are turning red.
I know  that some of you grow red peppers by the basket full but to us achieving a red pepper is a noteworthy event, so here is another.
We have now picked all the tomatoes from the garden greenhouse and outside on the plot. This year we have escaped the ravages of blight, maybe due to the dry season.

There are a few stragglers in the plot greenhouse but they are likely to be not worth picking.
29 October

Saturday, October 28

Trying to play catch up

For various reasons, appointments, weather and a streaming cold, I seem to have had a bit of a blogging break. Our allotment visits have also been fragmented, so it's time to play catch up in more ways than just one.

This week we managed a couple of visits to the plot, both of which have been devoted to tidying up. If ever we needed to be convinced that incorporating the use of weed control fabric into our allotment strategy was a good idea, then any doubts have been totally banished. Without having covered most of our beds, the plot would have taken a lot of work to bring back to an acceptable state and we would probably also be in receipt of warning letters from the council.

One of my outstanding work was to finish pruning the cane and bush fruit.

I had already pruned the tayberry, blackberry and purple raspberry. I'd also made a start on the jostaberries and gooseberries so my task was to finish the jostaberries and to prune the summer fruiting raspberries.
Jostaberries produce quite large bushes and are fast growing.  Last year I risked being quite brutal in my pruning regime and it seemed to pay off. Consequently I was equally brutal this year.
When I had completed the task, the bush looked quite different.
Attention then turned to the raapberries.
I needed to cut out all this year's fruited canes to ground level

Any weedy, straggly canes or any drifting away from the row were removed. Canes that were too crowded were thinned out and the remaining canes were tied in to the wires.
It felt good to be able to tick this task off my list but there is still some way to go in our game of catch-up.

If you are interested I have put together a video of how all our bush and cane fruit looks at this stage in the season. The video is 7.44 minutes long.

Copyright: Original post from Our Plot at Green Lane Allotments author S Garrett

Wednesday, October 18

Strange light

Monday, October 16


Martyn was pronounced fit to drive last week and so we can now get to the plot  under our own stem and do a bit of catching up. There are still lots of medical appointments to negotiate but at least these don't involve a long, (time-wise not distance-wise) bus journey. We have had appointments at three different hospitals and so have had plenty of chance to practise learning bus routes. Hopefully we can fit plot visits around medical commitments and the weather.

We managed a couple of plot visits at the weekend. Although our harvests are becoming sparser we are still bringing home a few things.

There were some things that I wasn't expecting to still be in evidence in mid October.

The sweet peas were still flowering. Lots of the flowers were past their best, no doubt due to irregular picking but I did manage to pick a small posy. I can't remember having flowers so late in the season before.
Another surprise was that the Cupid strawberries are still setting fruit. One berry looked red and juicy but when I picked it the underside had been enjoyed by a slug. I dare say the ones below will suffer the same fate.
At least we had a few alpine strawberries to enjoy.

Saturday's gathering was quite meagre compared to previous harvests.
Saturday 14 October
Over the weekend we cut a couple more red cabbage. They have done really well this year, the one above went to my sister and the one below to one of our plot neighbours, Sarah.

One type of berry that I always have difficulty deciding when to harvest is the cranberry. We have two container grown plants growing either side of the door to our plot greenhouse.
Often one plant fruits better than the other. This year it was the turn of the one on the right. As the berries were beginning to fall off the plant, I decided to pick them.
The shallots below had actually been harvested a while ago and were waiting in the plot shed until storage space became available at home. We decided to bring the remaining sack of shallots and another box of onions back from the plot and these are now added to the summer house residents. Not only does this mean they are more readily accessible but the conditions are drier than in the plot shed.
Sunday we managed another small harvest.
Sunday 15 October
The plot greenhouse tomato plants were picked over and we harvested more wonky carrots. This year has definitely not been the year of the carrot as far as we are concerned.
The squash plants had died back revealing their fruits and so it seemed a good time to harvest the Crown Prince squash.

These were left in the plot greenhouse to start curing. When space becomes available these too will be relocated to the summer house. Our summer house doubles as a vegetable store throughout winter. I always cut a piece of vine and leave this attached to the fruit. Not only does this act as a carrying handle, but it also prevents moisture collecting in the hollow stem which can lead to rot. There were only five Crown Prince but that is plenty for us.
We have continued to harvest a few things from the garden. The spring onions had become over-sized but as they were needed for cooking this wasn't a problem.
The peppers in the garden greenhouse are ripening slowly.  This means that, if the slugs don't get there first, we can use them as needed straight from the plant.

We pick some watercress nearly every day. It seems to relish the conditions in our garden pond and is still looking green and fresh. Other than having to curtail its enthusiasm it is proving to be a very easy crop.

As usual I am linking to harvest Monday hosted on Dave's blog Our Happy Acres 

Wednesday, October 11

Daisy, daisy

Monday, October 9

Still managing the occasional plot visit.

We managed another visit to the plot to harvest a few things courtesy of a friend ferrying us there and back home. This time the kind friend was Jan who has a plot opposite to us.
Although we did manage to do a couple of jobs, when plot visits are snatched as and when we can, we mainly concentrate on gathering in the harvest. On Sunday we collected another three sacks of apples and one of pears.

There were also lots of tomatoes both outside and in the plot greenhouse. These will be pulped to use in recipes that call for canned tomatoes.
I hadn't expected to pick any sweet peas. Although lots of the flowers had gone over, due to the fact that we hadn't been able to pick over the plants regularly, I did come away with a good bunch of flowers.
We have had a few firsts of the season. 
After a couple of disappointing years, this year the red cabbages have done well.
A large solid head was revealed once the outside leaves were stripped off. This will make a batch of one of our favourite vegetable recipes - braised red cabbage. This freezes really well and, if anything, improves when reheated,
Another first was a beetroor. This was surprisingly nibble free. Usually our beetroots have evidence of slug activity but this one was near perfect,

You may remember that slugs devastated the emergent growth of our first sowing of carrots. The second sowing didn't escape their attention either but at least some went on to produce a crop of carrots. They are the quintessential wonky vegetables but at least they have usable content.
The shallots were lifted some time ago and were stored in the shed. Last weekend one lot were brought back home to use. Yet another group of occupants of the summer house.
At least there are some things to hand in the garden and garden greenhouse that we can harvest easily. The Snackbite peppers are doing really well but it seems - despite buying a packet of mixed colours - that all the ones we have grown are a yellow variety.
The apples above had fallen from the tree in the garden and were tucked behind the greenhouse. I managed to stand in a tray full of slushy rainwater as I headed through the narrow gap between the greenhouse and boundary fence to retrieve them. Fortunately my garden shoes are made of a rubbery material and so recovered once the insides had dried out!
We've never managed to grow decent melons so we were full of hope for the one that we picked last week. The variety, Emir, is described as low temperature tolerant. This was the only decent sized fruit produced and although it was very juicy it was somewhat lacking in flavour.
Finally the flowers have had a battering and the beds are looking a bit worse for wear but we are still managing to come away from the plot with enough for a vase.

As usual I am linking to harvest Monday hosted on Dave's blog Our Happy Acres