Allotment tasks at Halloween

The last day of October is when we take stock for winter. The first frosts are normally around and about, not quite with us yet, but air temperatures have dropped enough for us to see the effects: the butternut squash is denuded of leaves already.

We’re planning to harvest the last of the mini cauliflowers this week, and start lifting the leeks for winter use. We’ve been picking kale for weeks, and we’re wondering if anything short of a tactical strike with a smart missile will kill off the whitefly that are making each kale plant an unsightly mess. For three years we haven’t had a hard enough frost to destroy all the whitefly and infestation levels are ridiculous now – walking our plot causes clouds of tiny white insects to fly up in a horrible wave that gets in one’s hair and even up one’s nose! There are some bigger uglies on plot 103 too ...

Our carrots are all container grown and in sheltered positions so we’re not lifting them, but if we had ground grown carrots we’d be taking them up now to store in a clamp or to blanch and freeze. Our parsnips stay in the ground, with a bit of fleece over the top of the raised bed to stop them freezing fast in the ground (if we’re lucky enough to get enough of a frost, that is).

We’re going up this week to cover the compost bins (cardboard is enough, although next spring I hope to put up corrugated plastic ‘roofs’ that will also be water harvesting systems) so that the rain doesn’t wash all the nutrients out of the compost and to try and keep warmth up so decomposition continues, even if slowly.

We can have open fires on site as from tomorrow and we have another tree to burn! Yes, OH finally conceded that the apple tree at the top of the plot was simply a nuisance and it’s gone. We think it might have been a seed-grown tree as it was very badly sited, just a couple of feet from two well-espaliered apples; it produced few fruit last year and even fewer this year, so out it’s come. Instead, we’ll sear the ends of the twiggy branches that will serve to support our flowers and bush-beans next year, cut up the main trunk to give to friends with wood-burning stoves, and burn all the middling wood that’s too small to log and too large to compost in an open fire over the stump of the tree to kill the root.

The area in which it was growing is set aside for currants and other perennial fr so we’re aiming to get a quince tree to replace the apple, if we can find one that will be productive within the 2 metre height restriction that operates on our site. To my great joy, that means a trip to Brogdale

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Monday, October 31, 2011


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