Friday, 29 October 2010

Autumn growth

Down the allotment this week (at sunset in only a T-shirt -- in October!), I noticed that the raspberries are cropping again. Admittedly they are autumn raspberries, but 'autumn' in raspberry parlance usually means August/September, not October/November. They're not as sweet as the earlier ones, possibly because less sun means less sugar developing, but they're big and juicy and still quite tasty. I reckon I'll get at least another pot-full, and maybe two. I also harvested what I think will be the last couple of smallish courgettes. There are still some more setting on the plant, but it's late enough in the season that the insects aren't really doing the pollination job any more; one of the harvested ones obviously hadn't been pollinated properly. I'll leave the plants for a bit longer, but I think that's it. The end of October is very late to be harvesting courgettes, though! The chard is doing nicely, as are my late planting of broad beans (not a huge crop, but worth the effort of chucking a few seeds in the soil in August, I think). It's also time to cut back the asparagus and shovel a good helping of compost over it; to dig up the last of the potatoes; and to finally tackle the Horseradish Horror (planted several years ago, and never dug up since digging up one of the four took so much effort).

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Autumn and winter planting

The season is definitely turning, and it's time to think about planting on the allotment for autumn and winter.

For me, autumn planting falls into two categories: things which you can plant now to harvest in the spring; and things which you can plant now to harvest over the autumn and winter, possibly with the help of a cold frame or two.

Planting for next spring

In the first category, this year I'm intending to plant broad beans and early peas in November, as usual; onions, after reading something suggesting that you can get an early spring crop with certain varieties planted in October; and purple sprouting broccoli.

I'm intending to plant lots of broad beans this year; previous years have seen only a few, and they don't crop all that heavily. They finish very early, so something else can use the same ground afterwards. I also have a catch crop of broad beans in currently (planted in August) which may yet produce the odd bean if it stays mild and the sun comes out.

Planting for this autumn

In the second category, there's kale, broccoli raab (which will probably do better in a cold frame), mustard greens, and pak choi. All of which I've tried before with varying levels of success.

More experimentally, I'm going to try an October sowing of carrots and turnips, to see how they do. They're unlikely to get very big, but apparently a late sowing of carrots can yield a few small but tasty roots, so we'll see what happens.

Tidying up

And there is, of course, all the usual tidying-up to do: dig up the potatoes and other roots, cut back the asparagus, mulch various things with compost, pick the rhubarb (and make jam!), dig up the horseradish that has now been there for 2 years due to being enormous and very difficult to extract, cut back blackberries and raspberries and dig out any rogue interlopers, prune the blackcurrant bush and perhaps the apple tree... Still busy despite the end of the main growing season!