This is why planting a crop of green manure is ideal. Green manure will cover the ground during the winter protecting it from heavy rain and preventing excessive leaching. The grazing rye has particularly fibrous root clumps, while tares have root nodules containing nitrogen fixing bacteria. When the tares are dug in they will add extra nitrogen to the soil. The green manure will take up nutrients from the soil and sequester them in their tissues during the winter and prevent them from being lost from the soil. It will eventually form a canopy over the soil preventing light getting to weed seedlings. Hopefully, this will prevent germination or, if germination does occur, the weed seedlings growing. Finally, green manures rot down relatively quickly when they are dug in releasing nutrients into the soil for the new crop.
|Winter tares and grazing rye green manure mix.|
After digging over I shuffled over the area consolidating the ground. This helped to break down the lumps of soil and enabled me to get a good tilth. The RHS advice is generally to sow green manures broadcast and their video advice is very good. However, they do say at the end of the video that if annual weeds are a problem then growing in lines enables you to hoe between the lines.
I have news for the RHS. Annual weeds are always a problem even on an allotment as clean as mine - so I always grow green manure in lines.
If you look closely weed seedlings are growing between the rows of green manure. Several years ago I sowed poached egg plant Limnanthes douglassii as a green manure. It continues to germinate even though none has seeded itself since. This seed must be three years old. I will take the hoe between the rows to keep them clean. Eventually the green manure will grow large enough to shade out weed seedlings and the ground will not have to be hoed any more.
|Green manure on old pea bed|
|Green manure slowly covering the|
|As the ground has become free I planted green manure.|
|Green manure covering the old potato bed.|
|Celery has a little rust on it.|
First time ever that I have planted asparagus pea. It has grown about 30-40 cm and produced a lot of small pea like pods. They are a welcome addition to stir fry. Quite successful. Although it does flop about a little it does support itself and does not need anything to climb up.
|Net over the carrots|
|Second sowing of carrots|
|Trail of tears climbing french bean|
|Trail of tears beans|
|More trail of tears beans.|
|Trail of tears flower|
I have fed the black currants with pigeon manure and mulched them with horse manure. Hopefully, I will be able to mulch the others before the winter sets in.
I am going off horse manure because of its lack of nutrients. I think it is very good for mulching and use it all the time but I would never buy any. We are lucky to get free deliveries of horse muck and I don't mind putting this on the allotment.
It will be the pigeon manure that gives the blackcurrants the nutrients and encourage them to produce next years fruiting stems.
I am still cropping summer cabbages although I am coming to the end of them. They are a little slug eaten but this is just on the surface and if the outer leaves are removed it will leave a good hearty cabbage.
The allotment and plants tend to look a little untidy at this time of the year regardless of how much work you put in tidying up. While I will keep the allotment clean by weeding regularly, I do not worry too much about appearances.
The winter cauliflowers in the background are beginning to be eaten by cabbage while caterpillars but they will not take too many of the leaves and I am taking them off by hand. They have been given a top dressing of pigeon manure but they don't really need it. It may make them put on new growth that will be susceptible to frosts.
The brassica plants still need to be netted against pigeons, cabbage white butterflies and cabbage root fly.
The transplanted strawberries seem to have taken a long time to establish themselves. They are planted on the Hugelkultur trench that I did last year. I dug in quite a few comfrey leaves to give them an additional boost and when I did that before they really perked up. I will just have to wait for them to grow a few more roots.
|Hopefully these strawberries will grow on and establish|
The sweet peas have definitely gone over now. They got the dreaded yellow disease which starts on the lower leaves and gradually works its way up the plant. I think that it is a viral disease and affected them particularly this year because they were under stress from the cold wet weather.
|Virus infected sweet peas|
|Not much you can do about this.|
I am not worried about digging these into the soil because a viral infection will not affect new sweet pea plants from the soil. I think that the vectors are aphids. Also, I will not be growing sweet peas in this ground for at least six years.
I planted some gladioli between one of the sweet pea rows and they have produced some good flowers. I want to grow some big corms and get even bigger flowers next year.
Taking down the sweet pea canes is the next big job on the allotment and will take some time. I will have to carefully store the canes so that they do not rot during the winter. I try to keep and reuse all the wire ties that I have used to tie up the plants. Inevitably, some of them break or are lost on the ground but keeping them is a saving that allows you to spend money on some other more important items for the allotment.
The runner beans will continue to flower and produce beans well into October so they will have to be regularly picked and watered.
Although the squash is yet to fruit, the pumpkin has produced several very good fruit. I will let some of them get bigger while using the others for pies and soups.
Apart from the squash and the courgettes, I have grown marrow again. Something I had neglected for over ten years.
|Squashes are slow to flower this year|
Although they are slow to flower, the squashes are taking much more room than they did last year and are starting to overwhelm the leeks.
The sweet corn has produced quite a few cobs although neither the plants nor the cobs are very big this year. Sweet corn is a C4 plant and needs a lot of sunshine. Unfortunately, these plants have not received nearly enough light to produce good cobs.
I am just glad that I have got some sweet corn.
The leeks on the other hand have really enjoyed the dark wet weather and produced some good plants. I have only cropped one of the leeks up to now but they will be used during the autumn and winter.
They will do fine if they are not too swamped by the pumpkin and squash.
I have cut out this years fruiting canes from the raspberries and tied in the new canes. These are the summer fruiting raspberries although somehow some autumn fruiting ones have sidled in somehow.
|Glen Prosen raspberries|
|Not sure which raspberry this is.|
I don't know where these autumn fruiting raspberries have come from but the fruit grows remarkably big. They are a little more bitter than 'Autumn Bliss'. Needless to say I have eaten all the red ones already. Raspberries rarely go home.
I put quite a bit of farmyard manure of the rhubarb in the spring and it seems to have done them a lot of good. They have also liked the cool wet summer we have had.
I have three varieties of rhubarb; Timperley early, Champagne; and Victoria. The slugs and snails have had a really good go at the Champagne but it has recovered and is growing well now.
In order to grow herbs really well, you need to make sure that you keep picking them whether you are going to use them or not otherwise they will loose their bushy shapes.
|The mint really needs to be cut back|
|Rainbow sage (Salvia officinallis |
|Variegated lemon thyme|
Thymus x citriodorus 'Variegata'
|Mentha × piperita 'Chocolate Mint'|
That is the allotment in September. There are a lot of spaces that have been filled with green manure ready for digging in next spring. Crops are still being harvested and we are slowly moving towards autumn.