Monday, 15 September 2014

The last harvest?

September has provided some us some serious gluts as well a couple of useful lessons, all set to a soundtrack of ominous, if not outright grim, undertones. More on that last bit later, but first here's some of what we've hauled in and been otherwise up to as the days shorten and cool.

Let it bean
Apart from courgettes, of which there are rarely too few in a gardeners life, the one thing we've been able to give plenty of away has been french beans. Wigwams are defo the way to to with these guys, making them easy to pick. We must have had 6 or 7 carrier bags full of the things. I'm going to make sure to try this excellent sounding recipe for them while we still have some of our own.

Red alert
Over the other side of the plot, a steady stream of tomatoes have ripened, in spite of their plastic roof being no more. Here's some evidence of the first batch I picked.

For a first ever success with tomatoes, I'm well chuffed with this. As I remove the ripe, or very nearly ripe ones from the plants, the ones left on the plants seem to ripen all the quicker. I had a Polish style breakfast the other day of sliced tomatoes on toast with finely diced shallot on top. Plenty of salt on the tomatoes, then mash them into the toast with a fork. Perfect. Tonight's dinner was pasta with a roast tomato and garlic sauce, the water from the fruit chased away in a hot oven until an intense pulp remained. Bloody great, even if I do say so. And, I do.

The first patch of leeks are up, they'd started going to seed so needed dug. 

Brown is the new green
All of which activity, alongside the digging up of our main crop spuds, has rendered patches of the plot bare. Some is already under plastic while elsewhere we have, with mixed success, sown green manures. Buckwheat has all come up nicely but Hungarian grazing rye was far less keen to germinate.

Late season sowing kit
We've also tried to squeeze in a couple of late cropping varieties of turnip, these going into a raised bed. The Manchester Market has sprung from the earth, belying the canard that heritage varieties are meant to be more fiddly to grow.

Another late season veg are the potatoes we planted just a few weeks back, the idea being that you can have fresh dug spuds on the Christmas dinner. I don't recall what variety these were, but they've come up in lovely shades of purple.

Finally, our butternut squash crop is looking good, if very dinky. You really value the stuff that ripens after the main rushes of August and September have passed, so we'll look forward to these.

We've had a mental amount of cucumbers, some of which have been monsters. Unfortunately a majority of the ones we've recently picked have had a rank bitter taste. Apparently this is most commonly down to uneven watering. Guilty as charged. We've also had some really inedibly bitter crops of herbs, including tarragon, land cress and lovage. Turns out we've grown Russian tarragon which tastes of pretty much bugger all, whereas we should've been on the lookout for the French variety. As for the other two, I can only put their rotten taste down to insufficient watering, although I'm open to suggestions.

The successes and failures of the last few weeks have however been underscored by a rather bigger issue which has lent trips to the allotment a melancholy feel. The allotment site is under threat of closure, the reasons for which are complicated by the ownership of the land on which it sits as well as some other issues which aren't worth going into here. What I can say is that the effort expended digging up weeds and preparing beds for next year's season all seems sadly futile when the future of the site is uncertain. A meeting is planned, hopefully some positive outcomes will ensue. We've invested a whopping great chunk of time, effort and cash in this bit of land over the last three years, it'd be rubbish to see the back of it so prematurely.


  1. Keep going, it might never happen..

  2. We have grown our climbing beans using cane 'tunnels' which we have found easier to pock from than 'wigwams' but we do plant quite thickly, We definitely will abandon the low growing bush type beans next year,


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