Feeling the season turn | The Voice of the Allotment

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October’s activities on the allotment included harvesting even tender plants and the start of a new season’s harvest, says Barry Cuff

Barry’s root veg crop from a single day in October

October was a warm month, with the temperature rising above 20ºC on some days and only two slight white grass frosts around the middle of the month. It’s not been cold enough to kill off the tender plants such as courgettes and French beans – they slowed down but still kept producing.
The soil was still workable, allowing plots to be cleared of weeds and old crop material; we aim to have all vacant parts of the plot clear and ready to be manured and mulched with homemade compost in November.

October’s allotment diary:
On the 29th and 30th September we staked and tied our Brussel sprout plants, dug our first leeks, harvested carrots, beetroot, runner and French beans, winter radish and cut some excellent side shoots of Ironman calabrese.
We also sprayed our whole brassica area with boron, as the plot is deficient in this trace element – we have observed symptoms of this deficiency over the last few years.
1st – Clearing weeds and plant material from this year’s pulse area, and we lifted two celery heads.
3rd – Harvested carrots, oriental salad leaves and winter radish, plus some nice raspberries.
4th – Cut the grass paths. Worked on our new strawberry bed, removing weeds and runners (potted up about 30 of the runners).
5th – Picked tomatoes and a few sweet peppers from the greenhouse.
6th – Dug our first parsnip and celeriac. Harvested courgettes, salad leaves, French beans and raspberries, and weeded the leeks.
7th – High temp of 24ºC! Removed all the sweetcorn plants and weeded the area.
8th – Had our first parsnip for lunch; good, but they need frosts to improve their taste. Ordered our seed from Kings Seeds.
10th – Cut our first Snow Prince cauliflower and our first Rossa Di Treviso radicchio – also picked a few more raspberries.
11th – Weeded the winter salad patch and staked and tied the purple sprouting broccoli plants.
13th – Harvested calabrese, leeks, runner beans and courgettes.
15th – The first grass frost of the season. Harvested winter squashes – seven Crown Prince, five Butterfly butternut and five sweet dumpling.
16th – Cleared the squash area of plant material and weeds and dug an area for garlic.
17th – Planted 40 cloves of garlic. Cut our first Chinese cabbage and picked calabrese. Cut the grass paths.
20th – Harvested carrots, parsnip, leeks, celeriac, winter radish and salad leaves.
22nd – Picked the last few runner beans and removed the plants and canes.
25th – Dug a few leeks and pulled a few spring onions, plus a Green Utah celery.
26th – Exciting day: the seed order arrived! We had 45 packets in total – 39 vegetables, two herbs and four garden flowers.
During the sunny days this month it’s been lovely to see that the ivy flowers in our hedge have been alive with bees, flies, wasps and butterflies.

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