Tuesday, September 18, 2012
It's all go at the allotment at the moment, with nearly everything ready to pick and eat. On Sunday I brought home two shopping bags filled with rhubarb (the last picking I'd imagine), lettuce, radishes, scallions, some small celery, parsley (flat and plain), lots of sweetcorn 'minipop', a few green beans, courgettes, tomatoes, sweet peppers, chillies, a cabbage and a turnip. Enough for the week and then some.
The year is just turning, with the pumpkin leaves starting to die back and the leeks beginning to swell. There's a definite nip in the air and it's now a race to ripen the remaining peppers and tomatoes and keep the courgettes cropping for another while. I sowed a few spuds in bags two weeks ago, hoping for new potatoes for Christmas, but they have yet to appear. I sowed what I had to hand - maincrop spuds - so possibly they'll be too slow growing to do well? We shall see.
The polytunnel is still full of seedtrays; mainly pansies and violas started from seed, as well as foxgloves and sweet pea ready for planting out to bloom next year. There is always a juggling act at this time of year, to have plants ready at the right time to plant out, and space ready to receive them. Likewise, I have green manure seed ready to be sown, but most of the beds are still full of crops. Hopefully in the next month I'll get them cleared and resown, before frost threatens and germination slows.
My other project for the near future is to dig out the raspberries, hollyhocks and gooseberry bushes from the fruit bed, and replace them with some apple trees and redcurrants. The existing fruit bushes are too rampant and trying to take over, and I would need to be picking the raspberries every day (which isn't possible) to keep them going properly. I'm losing a lot to birds and disease as it is. The gooseberries are vicious and I'm fed up being attacked and scraped by them, so they're being evicted too. I'm going to an Apple Day in Tipperary on Sunday, run by Irish Seedsavers, and I intend to buy a couple of apple trees from them then.
Speaking of events, I attended the GIY Gathering in Waterford last Saturday, which is a festival for growing enthusiasts. I had a great day and went to some brilliant talks, in particular those by Alys Fowler and Kitty Scully, but Joy Larkcom was interesting too. I got loads of tips from fermenting food to preserve it to no-dig methods to ways of making your plot aesthetically pleasing as well as productive.
In the evening the RDS Allotment Awards were held...and I won! Well, I won a merit award, but that's winning to me! And especially considering I was moving house right at the time when the judging was done (so the weeds were attempting a takeover) I'm very chuffed with the result. I wasn't the only local winner - my allotment is in Donabate but I was involved in the setting up of Malahide Allotments earlier this year. Malahide Allotments won an Allotment Provider award, and two of the plot holders won prizes too, so there were four of us all up on stage together. If you have the opportunity to go to the Gathering next year, I couldn't recommend it enough - right down to the packed lunch provided to every attendee (a 'blaa', of course, included).