High on the list of life-enhancing things about growing fruit and vegetables is the fact that, just as the days get too short for comfort, we’re planning for spring. It’s a struggle to wake up as the mornings get darker but next year’s seed catalogue from the Henley Allotment Association has already arrived. What’s more, our orders have to be in by next week. The perfect excuse to forget next week’s house move for five minutes and to think about next spring instead!
I’ll order too much – as usual. But that’s a good incentive to keep clearing the new allotment to make more space. Another incentive is the sight of the produce my allotment neighbours are picking. I spotted someone digging up an amazing crop of parsnips to make space for their winter leaves. Apparently the flavour of parsnips improves if they’re left in the ground until after the first frosts. But when space is limited, there has to be a compromise.
I wish him luck with his winter greens. Despite all the care I took, some of my newly planted kale has vanished already. They weren’t planted out until they were well-established. I put a cloche over the top to keep the pigeons and pheasants (and eventually the frost) off. I even surrounded each one with a copper ring to protect them from slugs and snails. Despite that, some of them have disappeared. There’s not even a trace of stem left. I guess we’ll really savour any that survive long enough to be picked!
Top tips from the allotment:
– Clear away beanpoles, canes, and pea sticks
– Break up any soil that has become hard and compacted
– Finish pruning blackberries and summer raspberries
– Cover late crops with cloches or fleece if frost is forecast
– Remove yellow leaves from Brussels sprouts, cabbages, and other brassicas to avoid spreading grey mould
– Net winter cabbages and brassicas to protect from pigeons
– Order seeds for next season!