The end of october

  • New apple tree

  • Bark path

  • Turf mound

  • Basil drying

  • The start of the blight

  • Chutney

The weather is starting to cool and damper weather is coming more now.  This month has been mostly spent with some much needed care for the shed that I inherited when I took over the plot.  In time it needs moving properly as it isn’t quite square and is on the borders of the plot and needs moving in a little, but is fine for now.  But the shed received a little overhaul with some bracing inside, and some new supports underneath it is now much straighter and nearly level (and not leaning at an angle any longer!).  Also, it received a coat of stain preservative too, along with some replacements on parts of the floor and side timbers too, so hopefully it’ll withstand what winter will bring.

I also decided to clear the left edge of the plot, I’m still unsure what I’ll grow there as yet, possibly just flowers for next summer but wanted to begin to define my boundary lines a little.  Also the public path between mine and my neighbours plot which seems to take up lots of my lottie time with maintenance (weeding and strimming), I’ve now levelled out to make it safer with less bumps and dips, and covered it with membrane and several wheelbarrows of bark chippings which are supplied to the allotment from by the council. To make a simple temporary edge for the bark chipped path, I used up some of the old bits of wood lying around my plot (in a not perfectly straight way! But will do for now until I do something a little more permanent) and sunk them in along the rough line of the plot.  Just having a line has made quite a difference in the plot view, and helped with my ideas and plans for the future of the plot.  I plan to create a new veg bed and also move my raspberry bed over on the other side too.

Whilst visiting a garden centre I spotted in the sales a dwarf apple tree, so I couldn’t resist a bargain, and made a new little bed at the top of my beds and dug, mulched, planted and staked in the little tree, along with some young foxgloves, borage, a few bulbs and primroses too.  One of the nearby allotmonteers was sadly giving up his wonderful wildlife plot and kindly passed on to me some of his rotting wood and rocks he’d added to his plot over the years and some willow from his fedge too.  I’ve used some of the wood round the new bed which will provide a haven for small bugs and plan to make another bed alongside the shed over winter and spring and incorporate his gifts.

Whilst at the plot, I had a peek at the turf pile which I’d created when digging out the main vegetable beds earlier in the year.  With the membrane covering and a hot summer the turf had died down quite quickly, and whilst I should give it a good year or so to rot down fully, the crumbly soil in this mound is looking good, so I may well be using this over the winter to fill back in over the paths area around the vegetable beds in my ‘sunken’ vegetable garden (!) to raise parts of it up once again. Plus the mound takes up a huge space on the plot, and want to utilise this space for a composting area, and also build a coldframe which I’ve been given (well, a big pile of bricks, and an old u-pvc window) from another plot holder who was moving plots and didn’t need his home made coldframe on his new plot.

With the changing weather, my tomatoes in the courtyard begun struggling.  Rosa de Berne a nice plump pink variety seemed to be somewhat of a late fruiter.  The plants had begin fruiting well, and had already supplied me with lots of delicious tomatoes, but there were many green tomatoes still on the vines.  Blight came in so quickly with the persistent rain and damp weather. During the first couple of days, I  pruned back what I could and removed bad tomatoes, but soon realised I was losing a battle, so I rescued the remaining nearly ripe toms to finish off indoors, and harvested a big pile of green tomatoes.  One good opportunity to come out of all of this was that I made tomato chutney for the first time. I’d never made chutney before now, so it was a good experience.  I looked up on the net a myriad of recipes and in the end looked at one of Nigel Slaters ones which also has the addition of a chilli too.  A couple of hours later, I’d made enough to fill lots of jars, perfect to eat over autumn and winter, and give to friends too.

During the month too, I also harvested and hung to try the basil verde which I’d grown in the courtyard.  I hung it on strings in the dining room which brightened up the look (and the scent!) no end whilst it was drying.

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