A resurgence after the rain : The Voice of the Allotment

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After the hot dry summer, three inches of rain in September made a noticeable difference to the plot, never achieved by the watering, says Barry Cuff.

Barry continues to harvest beetroot as required

The much-needed rain arrived on 5th September, and by the 26th we had recorded about three inches. After a few days there was a marvellous revival of plant growth – rain can do wonders which are never achieved by watering alone. Growth was very noticeable on our carrots, leeks, parsnips and brassicas.
As well as the vegetables, there was an amazing emergence of weed seedlings on bare areas of the plot, the majority of them being chickweed. These will either be dug in with the green manure beans or hoed before they become too large.
The brassicas remain under netting because of the pigeon problem. Our brassicas are also suffering from the worst infestation of Whitefly in 30 years – looking at other allotment sites online this seems to be a common problem. Hopefully, a few autumn frosts will deal with the problem. Strangely there is very little caterpillar damage from the cabbage white butterflies – plenty of eggs have been laid, but they have not hatched.

Still harvesting
Both our runner and French beans put out new flowers this month, which has given us a second crop of fresh beans. We continue to harvest carrots and beetroot when needed. We have enough carrots – Early Nantes – to last till at least February. They will suffer a little slug damage over the winter but will still be usable.
So far we have cut four Cheesy cauliflowers of a reasonable size.
Three of our Crown Prince winter squashes were harvested on the 20th as the stalks were turning yellow. The rest, together with the butternuts, will be ready in early October.
The celeriac have been mulched and fed to encourage large roots. These will be ready in December.
As our first sowing of oriental mustards was wiped out at the seedling stage by flea beetle during the drought, a second sowing was made on the 8th and is now looking well.
Both our autumn raspberries (Joan J and Autumn Treasure) are now cropping well.
In the greenhouse the hot chilli peppers are turning colour and we have picked Hot Scotch and Habanero Orange.

Planning ahead
Now we have to start planning for 2023. A phone call to the farmer has secured our delivery of well-rotted horse manure in November. Seed catalogues have been ordered, and Kings has already arrived. Belonging to the South West Counties Allotment Association, we are eligible for a 50 per cent discount on all seeds from both Kings and Suttons.

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