Allotment Journal: Weekly Update

September is one of those months! It has mixed emotions for me; it’s an in-between month… there’s the excitement of harvesting this years labours and maintaining the crops that will overwinter. But once that’s done, there’s also the slight heavy heartedness that the season is coming to a close.

This year we’ve enjoyed an amazing summer of warmth and sunshine and the weather just keeps giving. It doesn’t seem like September at all, temperatures have been above average and there’s been very little rainfall, it’s possible this could be driest September since records began. But what does remind us that it’s September is all the old dried out, tired looking, decaying plants that are no longer producing vegetables and the empty beds that need to be prepared for winter.

So we’ve started the the big autumn clear up. We’ve picked all the cobs of sweetcorn and they are now stashed in my freezer. The cobs that were left on the plants into mid September were either underdeveloped due to poor pollination or they became over ripe and turned horribly starchy. Only one place for them, the compost heap.



So time to remove the corn field…


I’m not sure who’s idea it was to grow so many plants.. but it look ages to clear the plot.. the plants had developed the most incredible root systems that took some digging out…



But after an hour or so this tall grassy landmark was finally gone… we sowed a green manure, Phacelia, on this empty bed so we don’t leave it exposed over the winter months.


Despite enjoying warm daytime temperatures, we made the decision to remove all the remaining borlotti bean pods. Our main concern was the drop in night time temperatures. A frost could easily damage the crop.


So all the pods were harvested. We had a huge bag full that I spread out on my kitchen table at home and there they were left to dry.


Two weeks later they were ready to pod and store in airtight jars.


Berlotti beans are not known for their abundant production, each pod contains approximately 6 or 7 beans. In terms of quantity produced, we averaged a jar of beans per wig-wam (we grew anywhere between 7 to 10 borlotti plants per wig-wam, difficult to tell exactly as some young plants were devoured by slugs and snails along the way), each jar of beans weighs just over 400g. So we produced a total of 1.25kg of beans. Not bad all things considered but one could always have more…. So next year I think we need to triple production, 9 wig-wams. This should provide a decent crop to see both of us through the winter and to have some spare to share with fellow allotmenteers and friends.

I think it’s safe to say the globe artichoke season is over


Huge dead flower heads on the end of long dried out stalks. I cut these all away, leaving the most amazing new growth of foliage


Globe artichokes are perennials. This plant is now three years old so we will look to start dividing up this plant next spring to help retain the plants vigour.

We dug up the first of the leeks. These are Barry Leeks, leeks.


I hate to admit it, but we do seem to have slightly more white by using Barry’s trench sowing/growing method!!



Although, maybe we should wait until I start digging up the experimental Bulgarian Giant Leeks… thinking that they may produce much more white….. they are certainly quite tall… and growing! Each visit there’s always more earthing up to do!!


And finally, you know how much I love poppies. Well, this week I travelled to London to see the ceramic poppies at the Tower of London. It’s an incredible, unique art installation called Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red.. It marks the 100 year anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War. 888,246 hand crafted ceramic poppies have been made and throughout the summer months these poppies have been progressively placed in the moat of the Tower of London. Each poppy represents the lost life of a British soldier during the First World War. It’s incredibly moving to see. If you are in London, it’s a MUST SEE. The closest tube station is Tower Hill, on the Circle line (yellow) or District line (green), it’s a short walk to the Tower from here.

The Tower of London in the heart of the City of London, actually very close to where I used to work, so fairly nostalgic for me.


The Flint Tower was used for the recruitment, deployment and training of soldiers during the First World War.

Around the perimeter of the Tower there is a beautiful border of poppies.



And then this stunning cascade of poppies a bit further on.




But within the moat itself, well, that’s where this display is truly breathtaking.. it literally is a sea of red.





This installation ends on November 11th, 2014, so make sure you go before then if you wish to see this magnificent sight for yourself.


Posted in Allotment Journal

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September 2014
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