Yet again, a bit late. Sorry about that. October was a month of busy-ness with more paid work than usual, two lost weeks with flu, a family funeral, and a brilliant celebration. All of which were important; none of which was conducive to doing anything on the allotment. Similarly November – no flu but lots of resultant catch-up stuff to do, another funeral, and two more lovely celebrations.
So my grand list of what I was going to do in October was put to one side, postponed, with a little regret and no great problems. Transferred across to November; some of it now done and some of it carried forward again to December.
Despite this neglect, we continue to enjoy the fruits (and vegetables and eggs) of all that went before. Including four of the best heads of broccoli I’ve ever grown (delicious, sorry no photos. But you know what a head of broccoli looks like). Plus now side shoots which are still coming.
Plentiful eggs. Potatoes, onions, garlic. There is some kale ready for picking and use. There were some more lettuces to eat. Lots and lots of gorgeous eating apples, and now I’m collecting windfalls and cooking up stewed apple to freeze and eat through the winter and spring.
I picked lots of grapes from our neighbour’s vine that covers our adjoining fence. I ate many (they’re small with seeds, but oh so delicious), and made a batch of grape jelly with a large colander full. Which is very very runny, so I’m pondering whether to boil it up again with some redcurrant jelly I made last year to see if that helps it set. If you’ve got any other suggestions, do say!
I harvested just two squash from my two plants, which had abundant foliage but not many fruits. I think we can call them Little and Large. I’m hoping that quality will make up for lack of quantity.
The few beetroots I harvested match the same description – a giant one, plus a few small ones that I’ve eaten raw grated in my regular coleslaw-type salad. I plan to make some chrain (beetroot and horseradish relish) with the big one and some of the horseradish I’m gradually digging out of the re-modelled Orchard Plot.
Once they began to edge towards past their best, I cooked up all the remaining red onions, which are not keepers, into a batch of red onion marmalade. We’ll enjoy it cooked up with sausages,venison and other dishes through the year.
And now I’m back where I started, planning and preparing for next year’s harvest. Over-wintering onion sets (1 Kg) already planted (that’s two of my 12 allotment beds), garlic bought and ready to go in, broad bean seeds ready for me to sow in the greenhouse and grow on before planting out (maybe some overwintering peas too?). And making my allotment plan of which beds I’ll use for what. This last a prelude to writing up my seed order – as an allotment holder, I can buy all my seeds, onion sets and seed potatoes through the Allotment Association and get a very healthy discount on them all (a third off the price of all the seeds!).
I had another trailer load of muck from a local dairy farm delivered last week, and I’ve tried to spend at least an hour a day whenever possible moving it either onto beds ready for planting in the spring, or into the two compost bays I made with pallets, to rot down nicely for use this time next year.
All this muck makes a massive difference to the quality of the soil – after a few years of this regime (i.e. no dig largely following Charles Dowding’s advice) it has transformed from a mix of claggy clay and thin soil to a much more friable, healthy soil full of worms.
The list is still there, amended and updated. Life is about change and adaptation.
This feels like a fitting post for American Thanksgiving, which several members of our family will be marking. Happy Thanksgiving to them, and to any of you who are celebrating it yourselves. May the coming year be a fruitful one for you and for all of us.