The big clearing-up of the allotment in autumn always takes longer than expected. But we’re getting there. I think its because the weather is so unpredictable, and it’s like winding down on a project that’s been on-going all year, the momentum you had in spring definitely wanes a bit, for me anyway. A splash of rain and it’s so easy to decide it’s far too wet for any allotment action, no, I’ll just stay in next to the fire and read my book.
In fact, we pushed ourselves to head down there on Saturday and thoroughly enjoyed it. At least taking canes down and pulling plants out is a lot easier that constructing and planting. And the ground was a bit muddy, but not too bad and quite easy to dig over.
This is how one of the beds looked before and after:
Of course you could leave the whole plot alone until spring, and I have done before (with the lazy excuse that it’s better for hibernating insects) but when you’re faced with the mess of it in spring, it feels like such a chore before you’ve even started, so now I prefer to do it in autumn. Then, wherever possible, I fill the beds with over wintering crops or green manures so I don’t create a vacant winter bed for the weeds, who sneak in when you’re not looking and then claim squatters rights.
I have sown a row of broad beans which I’ll attempt to overwinter. I’ve had mixed success with doing this before, so I can never decide whether it’s worth it, but we had such a cold spring this year, they were later than ever. It’s worth a try with one row at least, and then I’ll sow more in the spring.
I have also planted 3 rows of garlic, mainly Provence Wight, with some elephant garlic and one head saved from last years crop. You can plant garlic anytime from now until spring, but it’s good to get it done when the weather allows, and the ground isn’t too cold or wet.
We will also have leeks, carrots, parsnips and purple sprouting broccoli on the plot over winter, and then there’s a green manure filling one bed – grazing rye I think, bought by the mug full from a large sack, and has sat in a brown paper bag in my shed for weeks, so now I’ve forgotten what it is, but hey, I scattered it over anyway.
John has dug over the spare beds in the bottom half of the plot, so now there’s just one top bed (where the beans and beetroot were) to be dug and then we’re done for the year! Phew. The clocks have gone back (can someone tell my dog that please) and there’s only 3 days of October left, so it really feels like winter is just around the corner now. I’m ready for it, however, if you’re not and need 10 reasons to love winter – here you are.