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.
With above-average temperatures and higher-than-average rainfall for October, growth of both vegetables and weeds was phenomenal! The one slight frost wasn’t cold enough to kill off tender plants. Within a week, newly moved soil had produced a flush of weed seedlings, especially chickweed, groundsel, fat hen and sowthistle.
Many of our flowers – cosmos, nasturtium and dahlia – still attracted hoverflies, bees and Red Admirals. Lots of weeds were still flowering too – black nightshade, red deadnettle, weasel snout and shepherd’s purse.
We were still picking runner and French beans till at least the middle of the month, but they have now finished, and we cut our last courgette on the 25th.
Our first parsnip was dug mid-October and cooked as wedges; tasty enough, but they will be better after a few frosts.
We have had some wonderful autumn salads too, all harvested fresh from the plot. Ingredients included red frills mustard, green streaks mustard, mizuna, lettuce, cauliflower florets, red moon radish, blue moon radish, baby carrots and radicchio.
The brassicas have never looked so good, having lost most of the whitefly and with little-to-no caterpillar damage. We have cut excellent Cheesy and Fargo cauliflowers, eating them both raw and boiled. Our Ironman calabrese are producing good-sized heads and will eventually have smaller side shoots. All the lower leaves of the Brussels that were covered in honey dew have been removed, making the plants look much better as the sprouts themselves begin to develop.
Both the leeks and celeriac are growing well and we will start harvesting those next month. Celery and carrots continue to be harvested as required and we are using potatoes, squash, onions and garlic from our store. From the freezer we have this summer’s peas, French beans, broad beans and sweetcorn.
We were still picking raspberries on the 28th of October and we are enjoying the last of the pears which we picked early in the month.
Next year’s garlic was planted on the 12th. We are trying two varieties which are both new to us – Garcua and Carcassonne Wight – and have planted a total of 40 cloves.
A highlight of the month was the arrival of our seeds from Kings. We ordered 37 packets (31 vegetable and six flower), making the most of the 50 per cent discount we get as our allotment is a member of The South West Counties Allotment Association. The first of these will be sown next February – broad beans and peppers.
Sponsored by Thorngrove Garden Centre