Growing food can be such a hopeful thing to do. Just as we’ve harvested the last of the summer veg, it’s time to sow the broad beans for next year. In the meantime, there are leeks, winter salad, kale, chard and other leafy greens to pick through the autumn and winter.
Successes and surprises
Whether we’ve been growing in the garden or on an allotment, this is a good time to reflect on what’s done well this year – and what hasn’t! There’s usually a good balance between the two, but as Greener Henley supporter Jean tells us, sometimes there are surprises too:
“This year, the beetroot I sowed turned out to be chard and has done incredibly well, albeit not intended! Chard and beetroot seeds are very similar so I guess the seed company put them in the wrong packet.
Although we had heaps of growth on the luffas in the greenhouse, unfortunately there’s no fruit. No homegrown luffa for the bathroom…. there’s always next year.
Our butternut squash, pumpkins and courgettes have done really well. We’ve had lots of runner beans, but sadly the broccoli went to seed before we had the chance to eat it. I hate waste, but it did feed the wormery. We’ve yet to harvest the Oca (potato-like vegetable) which will be ready once the leaves have died down after the first frost. Apparently, Oca can double in size once this has happened. This is a first for me so I’m very excited.”
Seed Saving and No dig
Down at Greencroft Allotments, Dave and Sally have been seed saving:
“We make a special effort to save the seed from the Harry Lovejoy Runner Beans that have been traditionally grown at Greencroft allotments for many years. We identified the beans we would keep as seed a few weeks ago. We leave them on the plants to dry off. After harvesting, we spread them on kitchen paper and leave them in a cool room to make sure they are completely dry before storing in a brown paper bag in a cool, dry place. The seeds of most flowers and vegetables can be saved (but not F1 hybrids). There’s a lot of good advice at https://realseeds.co.uk/seedsavinginfo.html
We are keen on ‘no dig’ as a way of feeding the soil and suppressing weeds. Mulching with organic matter is a key part of this. The best time to mulch is in the Autumn after the Summer crops have finished and been cleared and weeds removed. You can use any form of decomposed organic matter: compost, homemade or bought, well rotted animal manure, leaf mould etc. Spread a layer on the surface, 2.5 – 5 cm thick. Then leave it and let the worms do the rest. If you are interested, have a look at Charles Dowding’s website.” https://charlesdowding.co.uk/
Join Henley’s Gardening Buddies
Henley’s Gardening Buddies are up and running again and have tidied up the Herb Garden outside Henley Fire Station:
” We had great encouragement from the local residents and Fire Station Master. It was a real pleasure to be part of a very constructive and rewarding morning. The Herb Garden is divided by gravel paths into four plots of perennial herbs – mint, lavender, rosemary, chives, thyme, and marjoram. In the New Year, we will return and fill the gaps with edible flowers such as violas, nasturtiums, chamomile and marigolds. The Town Council and Parks Staff make us feel very welcome.” The Buddies will be meeting up again in November. If anyone would like to join, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dates for the diary
Saturday, 6th November – Join Greener Henley and other groups at 10.30 outside Friends Meeting House, Northfield End, RG9 2JJ to walk to St Mary’s Church for a respectful silence for the planet at 11.00am. This will be the mid-point in the COP26 summit. People all over Britain will be attending rallies for a Global Day of Action for Climate Justice. Please bring along a banner or placard if you can. A photograph of the crowd in front of the church will be sent to our PM to show that we in Henley care and are expecting positive results and action from the conference.
Saturday 26th February, 2022 – The 3rd Henley Seed Swap, 10 -12 noon, Henley Town Hall. This is a joint project between Henley Allotments Association, Greener Henley, and Henley in Bloom. The Heritage Seed Library will again be supporting the event.
Top tips from the allotment
- Wait for the first frost before digging parsnips as the frost improves the flavour.
- If not following ‘no dig’, dig the ground after harvesting. You could sow green manure.
- Plant garlic and sweet pea seeds.
- Take down bean poles and stack ready for next year.
- Keep weeds under control.