October allotment tasks

According to the sage old allotment holders around me, we can probably continue harvesting carrots until around mid-October, although the slight frost that glazed the surface of the car this morning is a grim warning that winter is close – the point is that you need to lift carrots before there is a ground frost because it ‘pinches’ them, making them both soft and very sweet as some of the starches turn into sugars (which is the opposite of what happens to peas if you don’t harvest them, when the sugars turn to starch – life is strange) and because carrots keep for a month or more if laid in a box of slightly moist sand and kept in a cool dark place, harvesting early can mean having good firm carrots well into November, and nobody likes a limp carrot, do they? Ditto radishes.

On the other hand, tomatoes can continue to ripen on a windowsill if you pick them before the first frost and lay them in good sun. But if you let the frost get to them, and they wilt, disease will apparently invade the plant (like a shipload of Daleks) and may begin to build up, not just in the plant but in the surrounding soil too. Much as I love tomatoes I’m starting to think of them as the hypochondriacs of the allotment world, forever fainting or falling over or getting mysterious conditions that blight them forever.

And our onion bed is ready, after Tony's painstaking hand-weeding, our spring cabbage and some rhubarb kale are in the ground and broad beans are just waiting to hit the dirt, as they say!

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Saturday, October 4, 2008


Blogger Mark Hubbard said...

My broad beans (I've planted two varieties: red, which I've never eaten before, and the traditional green) are looking great: about four or five inches high now.

But, given we're in opposite hemispheres, why are you planting broad beans now (or have I missed nothing)?

My garlic also is looking pretty damned good, if I say so myself.

We're in Spring, coming on Summer, and I've decided to grow fewer crops this year: do less well, rather than kill a lot. Mainly salad greens I think. My biggest disappointment last year, apart from my strawberries, and my sweet corn, were red peppers; which was a pity as I love them (roasted over charcoal and skin flaked off), and they are expensive to buy. They didn't do well because, due to land shortage, I grew them in bags of compost against a retaining wall, and then, as with my strawberries, was not able to get enough water to them. Either I'll have to sort out a decent watering system (that is, automatic), or lose space in my garden for them.

After our atrocious winter, I've shored up the garden a bit (remembering it's on a cliff, and I lost some). Now in Spring we've having huge winds - a tree blew over yesterday on the face just below the vege garden, which is quite good as I get more light now, and it was too steep to get to the tree previously.

As for weeding, I hate it: that poor man hand weeding in the photo! I refuse to do that, and have to say one important lesson I did learn in year one (last year) was I need to plant my seeds a bit more than a hoe width apart. Other than than that I've now found another even better scheme. We've just been on holiday and my parents came and stayed in our place to get a holiday by the sea. My father, an old farmer who can't sit still, weeded the vege garden for me. I've decided my wife and I must get away more :)

October 6, 2008 at 2:47 AM  
Blogger Lindab said...

Are your spring cabbages standing up to the ravages of the snails? I've just posted about the attack on my brassicas. Meantime, I think our sowing days are over for the year up here in the north. Might try some lamb's lettuce tho.

October 8, 2008 at 12:00 PM  
Blogger The Allotment Blogger said...

Yup Mark, we plant broad beads to overwinter, sowing them as seed direct into the ground. As for hand-weeding, he loves it really! We don't have a watering problem, but like you, we suffer the ravages of strong winds, particularly in winter, and we're cracking on with getting our fence up, to try and break the worst of the gales before they hit the veggies.

So far so good on spring cabbage, Linda, but we usually plant as late as possible for precisely that reason, the damn snails (and even late caterpillars) can just eat the seedlings to the ground in a single night, can't they? It's heartbreaking. What's the point of snails, anyway?

October 10, 2008 at 2:15 PM  

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