Winding down for winter

misty lottie

I really can’t believe it’s almost the middle of December already. Where did time disappear to since my last post?

October was a pretty busy month on the allotment. Luckily we had some glorious warm weather, perfect for planting the garlic and onion sets, for clearing out some of the beds, filling the compost trench, a bit of digging over, harvesting the squashes and remains of the dried beans, and finally throwing a scattering of mustard seed (green manure) over the freshly dug beds, and carefully pushing a row of hardy broad bean seeds into the soil.

I’m so glad we did all of that in October because November by contrast was pretty miserable. Wet, cold, frosty or misty, or combinations of all 4, not exactly allotment enticing weather. Don’t get me wrong, I love a bit of frost or mist, but even on clear days, the sodden ground has made it difficult to do much down there without a ton of mud clinging onto your wellies for dear life, holding them fast to the ground while you struggle to pull your leg up. Glamorous I know! During one visit I was pulling leeks up (which, like my wellies, came up laden with great clods of mud) and in my quick fire instinct to brush a spider from my face I forgot that my gardening gloves were saturated with mud. I can only imagine what I must have looked like after that, but thankfully there are no mirrors in my allotment shed, only spiders. If you’ve stumbled across this blog looking for idyllic inspiration for living the good life, I really hope I’m selling you the dream right now. If you’re at all squeamish of insects (and there are many) and you don’t like getting your hands (or any of you) dirty, then run a mile. Otherwise it’s all good fun, promise.

mustard

The mild October weather resulted in lots of early growth on the garlic and onions, the mustard went berserk, and some of the broad beans I planted back in September were already in flower when I visited last. I really don’t know whether these will survive the winter, we shall have to wait and see. I tried pinching out the flower buds, but the determined little blighters just went and pushed out even more a week later. I have covered them over and will keep my fingers crossed.

soup dried beans

For now, I am in hibernation mode. If it wasn’t for needing to walk my dog every day I think I might take that a bit too literally. I am craving food like a bear that needs to put down a layer of fat before the big sleep. I am working my way through stores of beans, leeks, potatoes, squash, and lots of summer berries from the freezer. But also lots of home baked bread, red wine, slow-cooked casseroles and thanks to John some heartwarming curries and chillies. I’ve also been putting together gift bags of my preserves for Christmas. Once the new year begins, I’ll be scouring the seed catalogues and planning what will always be, ‘the best year yet’ on the allotment.

preserves

I’m planning to put together a little end of year review sometime soon, but for now, John and I hope you all have a wonderfully warm and merry Christmas.

4 comments

  1. We’ve had about the same weather here in the Netherlands. The garlic I planted in October is growing way too enthusiastically but luckily I waited a bit longer with sowing broad beans – maybe even too long… Well, overwintered broad beans are always a gamble anyway!
    Your preserves look great – a much welcome gift for sure!

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    • Yes I know what you mean on the gamble with overwintered broad beans. I never seem to get them quite right. But last winter my allotment neighbour had great success with his, so I thought I’d try again. I’m a sucker for punishment!

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