Rich pickings

by Jane Moore

It suddenly feels like summer is gone! The days are shorter almost overnight and there's that autumnal nip in the air. There was even a frost here the other day.

Gardeners' World 7-day weather forecastIt suddenly feels like summer is gone! The days are shorter almost overnight and there's that autumnal nip in the air of a morning, which is making me think that my summer harvests are going to start drawing to a close very quickly. There was even a frost here the other day - well not in balmy Bath but up on the hills just outside the city. As it gets colder, weather forecasts can be indispensable. I've been finding the seven day, localised forecasts on this site (top of the page) really useful.

I've been cooking up batches of ratatouille to make the most of my courgettes (yes I have a had a few after the marrow madness after my holiday) and I'm gathering as many beans as I can and shoving them in the freezer. Sweet corn cobs get blanched in boiling water and frozen too as it takes a good while for me to eat a season's corn. Paul doesn't like sweet corn - or so he informed me after we grew an enormous bed of it the year before last! This year we only grew half a bed so about 10 plants and that seems to be about right for me and Lizzy.

As to other crops, we're madly trying to eat up all the lettuces and salad stuff which has grown fantastically this year, once they grew beyond the reach of the slugs and snails. Paul's sick of the sight of salad leaves for the time being but he does really love rocket so I might be able to slip in a couple more salads this week, especially if accompanied by a really nice steak and some fried potatoes.

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Gardeners' World Web User 27/09/2007 at 12:46

Hi, I myself was a new allotment gardener last year, and I would agree with all the advice given, but I would advise against a rotavator. I found when I used one on one bed weeds like dock and buttercup have been coming up everywhere! As you know these are much more difficult to dig up and eradicate, and it appears that the rotavating cut them up into tiny pieces that all sprouted.

My advice would be to just dig it over and cover until next spring, if you break the beds into reachable widths, say 2-3foot across weeding will be easier! Good luck with it all, it has changed my life!

Gardeners' World Web User 27/09/2007 at 18:56

I took on a allotment nov 06 my advice in a bad state cut it down then dig small bits at a time I have had some good crop pots cabbage sweetcorn beans and peas I still have a lot to clear which I will do over winter

Gardeners' World Web User 28/09/2007 at 14:39

I was thrilled to take on an allotment at the end of June this year...only to find it was covered in brambles, nettles and couch grass. My husband strimmed the top off and we carefully cut back the brambles (after a bumper crop!). Over the summer we've dug small sections at a time, taking out all the weed roots as we go. After a strip was dug over we immediately planted something in it - lettuces, potatoes, leeks, cabbages, etc. It's a long and arduous task, but the benefits certainly paid off when you can harvest your crops. We've still only dug over half of the allotment, but have all winter to tackle the rest - what a challenge!

Gardeners' World Web User 28/09/2007 at 15:39

I agree about not using a rotavator, we just spent hours hand digging which was hard work but we are now so glad that we did. Our plot was totally overgrown last year and now not even a year later we are well on the way to a productive plot, have a look at our blog...

Gardeners' World Web User 28/09/2007 at 16:59

I agree with all of the above but only cultivate a small block at a time. If you can get hold of some thick old carpet that would help but turn it over from time to time to stop the weeds planting themselves in the carpet and potatoes is a great crop to break up the ground

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