The featured image of a sunflower is one I grew a few months ago, and is a bit of colour among all the grey skies we’ve had recently.
So much has been happening on and away from the plot that I haven’t had chance to keep on top of the blog, but am just about squeezing this month’s musings in to round-up October.
As you could see from my last post, by September I was on top of the planting, we were reaping the results and learning from the fails and I was getting my head around ‘over-wintering’, nothing much then to get excited about but…. Very long story short, in the last days of September we were given next door’s plot to work as well as Plot 7!! Husband’s name which was on the waiting list coincided with the existing plot holders giving up = a phone call from the secretary letting me know we could have the plot next door if we wanted… After I’d spat out his arm that I had just bitten off, I expressed my thanks and have been on cloud nine ever since. The saying, ‘never underestimate the gardener’s appetite for a bigger plot’ is so true and a recent conversation with a neighbouring plot holder confirmed it. You get the bug, it’s fun and rewarding and you get to grow more!
This plot had been left untouched for months and as you can see Mother Nature had again taken back what was hers which meant it was completely overgrown.
Surrounding the plot is a grapevine which is prolific to say the least. Left unattended it can engulf anything in its path and to prove the point, in the picture above there are three wheelbarrows and a 6ft x 8ft shed!
So, as well as dealing with things away from the plot, my sanctuary (believe it or not), come rain or shine has been making a start on clearing and planning this extra space!
Apart from discovering the path and other hidden treasures in the undergrowth there were a couple of jobs I wanted to get done early on and that was removing the shed and creating a compost area. The shed has long been an eyesore and has always been at risk of collapsing into our original plot; and compost is something I’ve been eager to set up, but only when the ground and area were right, and with this extra space this is now possible.
Clearing the area for the compost bins was easy, just getting rid of the grass and laying some chicken wire first, thereby putting the first hurdle in for any four legged rodent that might feel like burrowing and using the compost bin as a home… I have no objection to them living somewhere, but not where I might come across them (scaredy cat)
Having cleared the vine from the shed and channelling our inner Fred Dibnah we assessed the best way to dismantle it. The chipboard under the roof felt was rotten through so each time we did anything we expected to have to jump out of the way, but clearly all you need to hold anything up is a length of drain pipe, who knew! Even when we removed the pipe it still stood there as if daring us to remove something else, just like a dangerous game of Jenga, but one further slight push on a corner had the whole lot down – very satisfying 🙂
With the shed gone, this has now opened up the bottom of our original plot and we can now access both easily.
Now, the eagle-eyed among you will see a dark strip of earth in front of the compost bins. This is my first foray into ‘over wintering’ some broad beans. Using the ‘no-dig’ method, I covered the existing soil with cardboard as weed suppressant and covered that with compost. Ideally the compost mulch should be about 6in/15cm deep but I didn’t have quite enough so I pushed the dibber down further than the cardboard before planting each bean. This may or may not work, by going deeper than the cardboard will give the weeds the opportunity to emerge but with the compost acting as a mulch, we might be OK.
I used to get confused when I heard people refer to mulch. It’s essentially a layer of material applied to the surface of soil for a variety of reasons and according to the RHS, ‘Mulches help soil retain moisture in summer, rain to penetrate the soil in winter, prevent weeds from growing and protect the roots of plants in winter.’ Simple really.
While I’ve been spending a lot of time with the new plot, I haven’t forgotten Plot 7. It’s been just as important to tidy up in readiness for the winter months. It may not look as exciting but there’s still quite a lot going on.
On this side of the plot I’ve also had a go at over-wintering onions and garlic and intend on planting some shallots. They aren’t due to put much growth on now, but they will establish, then stay dormant during the winter and will then have a head start in the spring. Also, still to harvest are leeks, carrots, parsnips, swede and brussels sprouts.
I must just share this with you – the difference between two years of growing brussels sprouts. The picture on the left shows my first attempt last year and I was so proud of them. The picture on the right shows the brussels we’ve had so far this year. I hadn’t really noticed the difference until putting this blog together and I’m shocked (and pleased) 🙂
I haven’t had a lot of spare time but I did manage to make some leek & potato soup with homegrown ingredients – the difference homegrown makes with the flavour can’t be exaggerated but also the colour!… the picture of the cabbage was after it was cooked. I’ve never cooked cabbage from a supermarket that has looked this vivid unless helped by a pinch of Bicarb.
This pretty much brings the plots up to date. My goals for November are to continue clearing and covering the ground on the new plot before winter really sets in and enjoying what’s left of the veg still to harvest. I’ll keep you posted.