Autumnal

golden leaves

It’s feeling quite autumnal down on the plot. The dwarf beans have been ripening their fattening pods in the late sunshine, the leaves fading from green through to golden yellow with the shortening of days, so I’ve pulled the last of them out and spread the bean pods out to dry. I have a good supply of pink speckled Borlotti, and black and white Yin and Yang beans for adding to soups and chillies through the winter.

butternut red apple red raspberries

I have a whopping 3 butternut squashes this year. There was only 1 plant to be fair, and it was ‘squashed’ into the middle of a bed, competing with some huge courgette plants on one side, sweetcorn on the other, and also the lemon cucumbers, so it’s probably not that surprising. I think in my head I was aiming for 2 of the ‘3 sisters’ method, which is to plant runner beans with sweetcorn for the beans to climb up and squashes underneath to spread across the ground and suppress the weeds. But in reality, it’s just too much competition for anything to produce much, and my squashes sulked.

I’m going to try some different varieties next year, and give them plenty of space. I had 14 squashes from 2 plants last year, but they had a bed all to themselves to sprawl out in, so I know it makes a big difference. Feel free to recommend some varieties in the comments. I’m thinking maybe Crown Prince, as the colour looks so lovely, but I don’t know how tasty they are. I’ve grown Turks Turban before, and they’re a variety that look a bit nicer than they taste, and are a bu…. challenge to peel.

My little apple tree (Sweet Society) has finally given me some fruit. I must have planted it about 4 years ago, and this is the first time I’ve had a harvest. They are delicious, worth the wait.

And the autumn raspberries are giving me a good punnet full on every visit.

autumn flower bed

The dark chocolate leaved dahlias are still flowering their little hearts out, their petals darkening from lemon yellow at the centre to salmon pink at the edges. The cosmos is also still pushing out its bright magenta pink flowers, even though the foliage beneath is starting to brown. I have done my best to deadhead them through the summer to keep them going as long as I can, but it’s hard to keep up with them.

cerinthe bed

Cerinthe Major has once again taken over the bed next door. I had a full bed of this last summer (self sown from a couple of plants the previous year), I stripped it all out in the autumn, we widened the bed, manured it, and planted a square grid of new potatoes in the spring. The potatoes grew happily, I kept it weeded from a touch of bindweed and fat hen – the usual suspects – and harvested the potatoes in June/July. I didn’t give the previous years flowers a second thought, but the seeds must have been lying there dormant, just waiting for their chance. As soon as the bed was cleared of potatoes and dug over, they started to grow, pretty fast, and have now been in flower for a few weeks. There are a few wild poppies in the middle, but they’re much pretty outnumbered. I hadn’t really intended for this to revert back to a flower bed again, but I’d rather have this than bindweed and couch grass, and the bees love them. I just need to make sure I take them out before they set seed again.

yellow nasturtiumsyellow courgette flower

The calendulas and nasturtiums are still flowering bright and bold, they’re showing no signs of slowing down. And nobody seems to have told the courgette plants that autumn is here. The leaves are covered in powdery mildew, but even that isn’t putting them off their stride. I think Jack Frost is the only one who can stop them, I’m sure he’ll show up any time soon.

chilli peppersgreen and red chillies

Thanks to the autumn sunshine, we’ve been lucky enough to get a late harvest of chilli peppers. I grow chillies at home on the windowsill of a lean-to conservatory at the back of my house, where they get plenty of heat and pampered thoroughly. The space available is limited, so the 4 biggest plants were potted up and grown this way as per usual, but because I couldn’t bring myself to throw out the 3 spare plants, we decided to plant them out on the plot. I honestly didn’t think they’d amount to much, but I was wrong. There are only a handful of red ones, but we’ve still had a good harvest, long after the homegrown ones have finished. So we’ll plant more next year. Trial and error. As ever!

Update – we just found out tonight how hot they are, way hotter than the same variety grown at home, my mouth is still tingling! Should be good for keeping the winter colds at bay.

compost trenchblack fenland soil onion planting

And these are the more usual pictures of autumn on the plot. A compost trench being filled with redundant plants. The top section has been cleared and dug over, with the exception of some spinach which is holding on in there, although it looks a bit lonesome now. And in the bottom section, over wintering onion sets have been planted out, 2 separate beds with 4 rows each. The above picture is prior to me tucking them in nice and tight.

Just the garlic still to plant.

6 comments

  1. wow! Can I ask how do you know when to harvest borlotti beans – I have grown them for the first time and I’m not sure when to pick them. I’ve been at my allotment this morning 🙂

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    • Hi lundygirl, you can harvest borlotti beans at any time really. So you can harvest them while they’re small and green and eat the pods whole like french beans. If you want the beans inside, harvest them when they get fat and the pods have turned a lovely pink colour and the beans inside will be fresh, meaning they won’t need soaking prior to cooking them. Or you can leave them to dry on the plants, until they get dark red and brownish and then the beans inside will be hard and you can store them for the winter. You have to be careful at this time of year that the pods don’t rot if they get too wet, so best to bring them in and dry them if they’re pink to brown. Hope that helps.

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      • Thank you Zoe – I will bring them in when I’m next there which, hopefully will be tomorrow afternoon. I really appreciate such an informative answer to my question 🙂

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