Our Allotment: Autumn 2020 Update

I know there hasn’t been much of a gap since my previous allotment post, but autumn is most definitely upon us so it felt like the appropriate time for an autumn update – winter will be here soon enough! Since my last update in August we’ve been enjoying our first homegrown onions, more dahlias, plenty of herbs, and a single parsnip & single carrot. Don’t worry, there are more coming!

We’ve been harvesting runner beans and dwarf french beans like there’s no tomorrow and I’ve been bowled over by how many we’re able to harvest from just a few plants. Most have been enjoyed fresh either steamed or stirred into stews and stir-fries, some have gone into the freezer, and some of the runner beans have made a rather lovely chutney using a recipe from Gill Meller’s new book Root Stem Leaf Flower which I wholeheartedly recommend. Our giant hundredweight pumpkins have reached their full size (I hope – they really are giants!) and have been “curing” so that they’ll store well for a few months. We’re getting plenty of beetroots, pak choi, kale and chard, and a couple of fennel bulbs (a few of them bolted in the hot weather).

Our tomatoes didn’t quite get planted early enough for many of them to ripen, which we knew from the beginning. Unfortunately many of them were either victims when the shelving in the polytunnel was knocked over during one of the spring storms, or they’ve been munched by critters. We’ve had a few ripe toms, but most have been harvested green. This is no bad thing though as I have a real soft spot for green tomatoes. I make a green tomato chutney every year that goes down well with my family, and I love green tomatoes in this Inle Lake-inspired salad that I enjoyed during my travels in Myanmar. I’m actually quite happy to have enough green tomatoes to try some new things like a southern American fried green tomato recipe as well as experiment with some sweet recipes. Next year we’ll definitely get them in earlier so that hopefully we’ll have plenty of ripe ones as well, but for now I’m not too disappointed.

Now that a lot of the plants have finished, we’re doing a lot of clearing and composting so that we can get the empty beds prepared with compost or “green manure” over the winter to replenish nutrients. This is especially important where hungry plants like squashes and potatoes have been growing. Green manures are quick-growing plants like mustard or winter tares that act as ground cover to prevent weeds, but also help to fix vital nutrients back into the soil. They also help to prevent nutrients in the soil surface washing away during wet winter weather.

Over winter we’re hoping to continue harvesting our spring onions and eventually our leeks, as well as our Brussels sprouts, purple sprouting broccoli, kale and chard. I’ve got some lettuce, pak choi and other greens starting off in the polytunnel that should keep us in healthy leaf veggies over the cooler months. It will be our first time growing more than just chard and spring onions over winter so we’ve got everything crossed for some successes to share in a winter plot update at some point over the next few months!

For now I’ll leave you with this photograph of a friendly frog who kindly graced us with his presence on our plot during the summer.

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