Categories
Allotment Diary

Autumn Allotmenting

Everywhere you look, the temperature is falling, the leaves are changing colour and the allotment is no different.

Visits to and from allotment really do dwindle heading into the autumn and winter, so as the darker evenings move on in, the allotment really does offer a great place to walk to stretch legs and get a breath of fresh air.

Time there at the weekends is also more treasured, probably now this year than in the summer – mainly because we can’t do much else, for obvious reasons at the moment.

On first glance, a good majority of beds are covered and so it looks like not a lot is happening – however, if you look closely, it’s quite the contrary.

Strawberries

These strawberry plants were gifted to us by some very dear friends, and they have taken root superbly – and the fruits taste fantastic. These were planted into some raised beds which were made up of predominantly leaf mould. You can see how I made these raised beds here. I’ve managed to cultivate some more strawberry plants from these and I can’t wait to pick some more in the spring.

Brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts often feel like they take such a long time to grow, baring in mind that I first sowed these seeds back in April – so you can imagine how satisfying it must be to see actual Brussels sprouts on the stem. They are being eaten by slugs and they’ve been congregating on the heads of the plant, so I really do need to address that. The sprouts reside in a brassica cage,

Last of the fruits

A good 50% of the plot is made up fruits and this is a great tactic with helping keeping on top things, mainly because the fruits look after themselves. The autumn raspberries have done really well and I’ve decided to not prune these like I did this time last year. Instead, I’ll be pruning these in the early spring. The Spring raspberries have not done that well – and I need to find out why. The rhubarb winding down now, and these generated a plentiful outcome. The blackberries… have served their time. They’re very lovely, but their pruning has become (and excuse the pun) a bind. New plans await for these – stay tuned!

This year I grew King Edward potatoes, which I’ve grown before once upon a time…

These were the only potatoes I grew this year. I usually do first early potatoes and mains, but this year I just grew mains.

I’ve been happy with the spud outcome this year, in the fact that I’ve ended up with more than I started with – but it’s worth noting that the jacket potato style spud has been far and few between, but I’ll be honest, I’m fine with that.

They’ve still been great for mashing and roasting 🙂

I’ve still got some potatoes to dig up, but in the meantime I’m storing them in the ground for… even more rainy days.

How is your autumn going so far? I’d love to know in the comments below! (Also, I’ve given the blog a new look – I’d love to know your thoughts on that as well 🙂 )

Categories
Travels

Autumn colours at Bushy Park, Hampton

Autumn is definitely THE time of the year to go out for a walk and soak in the colours of change and Bushy Park in Richmond is definitely a place to visit at this time of year.

Categories
Composting Leafmould

Composting: Leafmould

At this time of year you can really make use of the debris left as a result of the changing seasons and the drop in temperatures.  Leafmould is compost made out of decaying leaves and is a great soil conditioner.

Leafmould is easy to produce – all you have to do is collect the leaves up and store in a plastic bag, wire cage or something that’s going to keep in the moisture.

Once stored – leave it… No pun intended.  It takes around one and a half to two years to break down, decompose and eventually be subject to “humification”.  Humification is the fancy word given to the process in which green and brown matter is turned into compost.

The benefits of leafmould

  • Leafmould can hold the equivalent of 80–90% of its weight in moisture and can increase the soil’s capacity to withstand drought conditions.
  • The process that converts raw organic matter into leafmould feeds the soil population of microorganisms and other creatures. This maintains high and healthy levels of soil life. (Soil life consists of all kinds of bacteria, fungus and enzymes which have really long, complicated names, but trust me when I say they’re beneficial for your garden!)
  • The dark color of well-rotted leafmould helps to warm up cold soils.
  • Leafmould is a substance, which on a microscopic level is made up of insoluble particles, which is dispersed among lots of other materials within the soil. This means that leafmould has a wonderful ability to keep the nutrients in the soil safe from being bleached by the elements. That stored nutrient goes straight back into the plants.

Uses

Well-rotted leafmould, which has been left for more than two years can be used as seed-sowing compost. You can also mix it equally with sharp sand, garden compost and a good quality top soil to use as potting compost.

Leftover, composted material that has not quite rotted down fully, or is less than two years old can be used as a mulch or a soil conditioner in the autumn.

In the winter, it can be used to cover bare soil and or used in the winter to cover bare soil and keep weed growth to a minimum.

leafmould

If you plan on making your own multi-purpose, keep you leaves away from the main compost bin.