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Friday & Saturday 08/09 November 2013

All Sorts

Friday was a murky day but I managed a trip to the plot to do a little bit more sorting out of the blackberry bed refurbishment.

Saturday promised to be a day of sunshine and showers but it didn’t stop us making a trip to Cumbria and the Yorkshire Dales. At its best it was a beautiful if cold November day.

There was always a threat that in a few minutes the weather would change for the worse.

When it did it became rather unpleasant with heavy rain or sleet which fortunately only lasted for a few minutes but certainly gave everywhere a good soaking.

Heading back home on the A66 the temperature by 16:00, as the light was faded fast, had fallen to 0°C on the car thermometer. The gritters were already in action. Autumn is turning into winter but it didn’t stop us having a good day out.

My excuse for this trip I admit was to photograph a steam train as it worked hard on its way up to Shap summit. I think it’s the last one of the year. I must admit Sue takes pretty decent pictures.




Sunday 10 November 2013

Plenty of Sunshine

Sunday was a lovely crisp November day with sunshine all day. It was a cold frosty start and it never really got very warm with the temperature only managing 7.9°C

After Saturday’s day out we decided on an afternoon at the plot doing a little bit more tidying up.

I always like to get as much tidying up done at this time of year before any seriously bad weather sets in as it’s a no lose situation. There’s nothing growing or seeds to plant so any time spent now isn’t to the detriment of anything else on the plot.

This section of the plot is now looking much better as the laurel and conifer to the right have been trimmed back and the path between them and the kiwi  has been refurbished using weed control fabric with bark chippings on top. This should be much easier to keep tidy than the grass path we had before. The row of primroses in front of our kiwis have been planted through fabric too to keep weeding down to a minimum.

The line of posts to the left used to be for our summer raspberries. These all died in the spring of this year (detailed here) and we’ve still to decide on exactly what to replace them with as we can’t grow raspberries again in this bed.

Monday 11 November 2013

Sweet Potatoes

Monday was one of those days when the weather forecast was wrong. Yes it was milder, reaching 14.4°C the highest of the month, and cloudier as forecast but the heavy rain for early morning through to lunchtime just never turned up. The days total came to just 0.6mm so hopefully the ground down the plot might still be diggable. I’ve a feeling that it will only take one more good downpour to render it just too wet and claggy.

As it wasn’t too bad in the afternoon I decided to harvest our sweet potatoes Beauregard which have been growing in pots over summer. It’s our first attempt to grow them so I was interested to see how they have performed. The plants have been sending long vine like runners all around the greenhouse.

Above is a little potted history of the plants and how they were performing at a few different stages through the summer. The all important results are of course the harvest and that is very disappointing. Certainly there’s none of those large roots sold in the greengrocers. The tubers in the tub weighed in at 0.98kg but I’m not convinced that they are large enough for culinary use. Perhaps I should replant them next year to grow on a bit!

I might need some convincing to give them growing space in the greenhouse next year.

Tuesday 12 November 2013

Last Clean & Cut of the Season

Tuesday was another decent day with some nice sunny periods, the relatively mild spell had lasted overnight. There was a bit of a strong coldish breeze blowing but I decided it might be now or never. The grass certainly needed a bit of a cut as the milder weather had kept it growing. The pond filter had also slowed down substantially and I reckoned a clean out before winter would do it good.

Not a great deal of difference in the before and after shot but I wasn’t going for a summer cut, just a light trim with the mower at its highest setting. Once the grass was finished it was quickly onto the pond filter. I’m always amazed at just how much gunk the filter manages to remove from the pond.

This is typically how I expect the inside of the filter to look after a few weeks of operation. To be honest I can clean this amount of gunk out every couple of weeks through summer but much less now the fishes are rather less active in the cooler water. All the waste gets washed off onto the various garden plants which don’t seem to mind at all. I’m hoping the next clean out will be next springtime.

Although we’ve had a couple of very keen frosts it hasn’t been cold enough to turn our banana (musa basjoo) leaves to mush.

Last year our osteospermums survived winter in the cold greenhouse and gave us some decent plants for starting off in tubs in spring. Hoping for a repeat this winter I moved our 2 pots into the greenhouse along with a tub of dahlias.

Here’s hoping for a reasonably mild winter with no prolonged cold spell which normally results in plant losses even with greenhouse protection.

Wednesday 13 November 2013

Final Roses?

Once again Wednesday wasn’t a bad day for mid November although there was a cold blustery wind at times just to let you know that it really is November. I decided on an hour down the allotment to start digging out the weed and roots from the blackberry bed under renovation. Not that I thought I’d get the the bed dug over in an hour more that an hour would be long enough digging out and breaking up this well compacted soil.

Like you do I had a look around the plot and decided these roses might as well be picked for home. Whilst not the best blooms of the year they are a bit of a treat in mid November.

After an hour I’d had enough digging and decided to harvest a few vegetables.

Our carrots are still in excellent condition and haven’t so far suffered any damage from slugs and snails which are the main pest problems over winter.

We’ve also started harvesting our leeks which have been grown through weed control fabric for the first time. It certainly cut down on weeding through summer and the leeks have grown really well.

One difficulty of using weed control fabric for our leeks is that it makes them a bit tricky to harvest. Each leek is planted through a hole in the fabric so at harvesting time it isn’t a simple matter of using a fork to lift them out of the ground unless that is the fork goes through the fabric too. As we want to reuse the fabric that’s not an option. I’m managing to dig the leek out through the same hole it was planted through. This slows the harvesting process down a little and it will be much more difficult to do the bigger the leeks are. It’s a price worth paying though for all the weeding it cuts down on.

Thursday 14 November 2013

Job Done?

Thursday was another sunny day but with a strong bitterly cold wind but we still decided on a trip to the plot. I wanted to dig a bit more of the old blackberry bed whilst Sue removed the remnants of the wild flowers growing in the adjacent bed.

This is how our blackberry bed with the wild flower meadow (annual flower bed with weeds which are wild flowers aren’t they?) along its left hand side looked a week ago. It was certainly in need of renovation. The area has had a great deal of effort put in over the last week and now looks ready for some serious growing.

All the blackberry has been removed (apart from the roots which I’m sure will regrow) and the ground dug over. Before the bed is planted it will certainly need digging over again to remove lots of roots I’m sure I will have left in the ground. There were very substantial roots of docks and nettles to remove as well as blackberry roots. In some areas I used a pick to prise the mass of roots out of the soil.

This is typical of the roots I was trying to dig out which had taken over this bed. I think I’ll leave it over winter now and in spring dig it over again removing as many roots and weeds as possible before I erect some fencing to train the blackberry on.

I know that Sue wants a major sort out of the flower border with our black elders and roses in. That’s going to be another tricky operation to try and get done before next spring.

I’m not sure I know where to start on this one. I think it will be dig everything out except for the roses and elders then replant the bed once it has been cleared and dug over.

Good fun this allotmenting lark isn’t it!