I’m realising that adaptability is key to keeping an allotment, because although there’s plenty to harvest in September, things don’t always work out as expected. Some plants go into over-drive when the conditions are just right for them, whilst others are slow or get eaten by the competition.
I’ll never take courgettes for granted again, we’ve only had a small number so far. The first batch of seeds failed, the second batch germinated, but were late being planted, the few that we’ve had so far are being truly savoured.
As for gluts of vegetables, what we don’t use is donated to the local day centre for elderly folk, where it’s cooked for lunches, so everyone’s happy.
Swiss chard has been top of the production list, we’ve had much more of it this year than last.
I love it for its’ glamorous leaves, good enough to put in a flower vase, and dual use of leaves as salad or cooked like spinach and the stems chopped and steamed, or used in stir-fries.
There are lots of tomatoes, but they’re still green and on the verge of blight, I’ve picked them and brought them home. Some may ripen but I think green tomato chutney is on the agenda any day now.
The fungus is easily spread from blighted plants to any nearby, so they’ve been bagged up ready to be burnt, and the secateurs cleaned.
Leeks, cabbages, and kale are thriving, the last two having been firmly netted [unlike last year] against birds and cabbage white butterflies. It’s good to take the netting off the kale and cabbages to pick off lower, yellowing leaves and check that slugs and snails haven’t made a home for themselves under the plants, other than that they just need weeding and watering when it’s dry.
The winter squash are romping away up their supports, and need to be tied to the supports as they grow, much as I love the look of hazel wigwams, bamboo canes are easier for the tendrils to cling to. I’m planning on harvesting my own canes from the bamboo in the garden to avoid buying imported ones.
I’m growing Turks Turban squash again this year, they taste pretty good and although they all resemble a sort of classic pantomime turks turban, they produce a variety of colours, each one slightly different.
The winter squash on the ground have a little mat to sit on, to keep them dry and munching insects and worms away.
The greengages have all been picked and most of them made into jam. There were loads this year, which is just as well as the Victoria plum tree had a lot of dead branches and didn’t produce much fruit at all.
There’s still time to sow seeds of winter lettuce and more rocket. Mizuna, land-cress and corn salad does well over winter, but may need a cloche or similar to protect them from low night-time temperatures. I’m thinking of sowing some in the cold-frame, though it may not be tall enough.
Onion sets can be planted in September if there’s space, or you can wait until October or November.
Green manure is great for covering and improving bare soil.
Happy gardening, Jill
all photos: Jill Anderson.