The big autumn clear out on the allotment is under way. I have learnt from past experience that clearing the beds out now saves a lot of time and effort in the spring. Also, it’s just nice to have a clear and tidy plot at the end of the growing year. It’s a bit like doing the washing-up before you go to bed. It might seem a good idea to leave it till the morning when you’re feeling a bit lazy, but when faced with it the next day, you really wish you’d done it before. The satisfaction of coming down in the morning to a clean kitchen is a bit like turning up to the allotment in spring with the beds all dug over and good to go. They still need a bit of forking or raking over, but not much.
So the squash plants have been stripped and removed. In all I had 4 very large squashes, 6 medium sized (more like you would buy in the shops) and 3 smaller ones (like the green one on top here, still big enough to be worth harvesting). There were a few very tiny baby ones that had to be composted, if only we had a longer growing season. This variety is called Waltham, and I’ll definitely be growing it again, 13 squashes from only 3 plants! Highly recommended. Though obviously the extra rain helped this year.
I have also stripped and removed the beans and taken down the framework of supporting canes. I now have a large bag full of beans to be podded and thoroughly dried for the winter. That could take me some time.
I’ve started harvesting a few parsnips, though they do say their flavour improves after a frost, so I will leave most of them for a while longer yet. The largest one on the left here weighed in at just under half a kilo! This variety is called Gladiator. It’s certainly mighty. The smaller ones are great for roasting, but the bigger and woodier ones are great for slicing into thin rounds and making crisps. Just slice them as thin as you can, lay them out on baking trays and brush them with oil and a sprinkling of salt, and bake in a moderate oven until … well … crisp!
Also, still harvesting autumn raspberries like mad, been filling 2 plastic punnets every week. I’ve made some seedless jam. It was an effort to strain them through a sieve to remove the seeds, but worth it I think. The colour and taste is just beautiful.