Browsing Posts published on 11/09/2010

Sunshine and showers. 11/09/10

There had been conflicting reports as to what the weather was going to bring us today.

Some said rain all day, others said ‘sunny intervals’, but thankfully none said ‘snow’.  Yet.

Diane, Ian and Nick (no relation) arrived almost simultaneously this morning, so the first job was to open up the sheds, get the gazebo up (…what a blessing that was later to prove!..), and of course, get the kettle on.

Ian had brought food, in the shape of pate and crackers, so while they ate these and drank tea, the day’s jobs were decided.

They all agreed that today would be a day of yet more harvesting, and to that end, it was decided that Ian and Nick should un-earth the very top bed of onions still left in, but leave the other three for other volunteers.

Onions lifted.

Onions lifted.

Onions really are great to lift.  There’s very little earth-moving, certainly no big spades or forks to be seen.  Just a gentle lift with a hand-fork underneath, all the while being careful not to damage the outer layers of  “Nature’s Overcoats”, then a little lifting motion, and its free.

Gently shake any earth from the roots, then lay it carefully next to its neighbours in the tray.  Freshly lifted onions should never be ‘piled up’, as this encourages rot.  Instead they should be placed ‘side-by-side’, and the red bread trays we use are ideal for this.  They also stack to save space, but with plenty of breathing space round them.

A really easy, but very satisfying job.  And the size of some of them was quite something to behold!

After this, they worked on the top-most bed with Pat, a new volunteer, lifting the many different types of potatoes up there.

Pat shares a joke.

Pat shares a joke.

We had always said that this bed would be another ‘experiment’, firstly to see which potato grew the best (…there were no less than 17 different varieties planted!..), but also to see how the ‘rain shadow’ from the trees on the top of the banking affected their growth.

Well, we can report that most of the potatoes were very small (…only suitable for salads, really…), and also, the ‘rain shadow’ really did have quite an effect on them.  Despite all the rain we’ve had over the last few days, when digging down with a large fork; okay the top few inches were wet, but underneath that, the ground was as dry as a bone, even allowing for the exceptionally dry summer this year.

Over the coming weeks, Ian will be surveying the whole site and collating all the weights of the various vegetables and where they were grown, and will be coming up with a draft ‘plan’ as to what we should plant this next season, of course allowing for crop rotation.  He’ll then present it to our monthly management meeting for approval.

This is one of the best parts of  ‘Allotmenteering’.  Planning where you’re going to plant, drawing it all out, discussing it with your colleagues, arguing like cats in a bag ’til you reach an agreement, then after all that, good old Mother Nature decides that no, its not going to be sunny or warm on those particular weeks, so you’d better go do something else.  Fun times!

Ian busy lifting shallots and garlic.

Ian busy lifting shallots and garlic.

After Nick, Ian and Pat had finished unearthing the ‘Top Spuds’, Pat carried on working up there, clearing some of the overgrown debris from the path running along the top of the bed and re-stobbing the sides.

Meanwhile, Ian and Nick moved slightly lower down onto two beds of shallots and garlic.

This shot is of Ian on the second bed.  The first was the one in front, and you will clearly see the four diferent types of shallots in separate trays, along with the two types of garlic in the centre-most trays, still with their stalks on.  Much plaiting fun to be had here next week!

In these two beds, along with the garlic and shallots were loads of ‘Evening Primrose’ plants that had self-seeded from last year, and were looking strong and healthy despite that.

Rather than compost them, they carefully collected the whole plants and roots and later re-planted them on the banking above the top potato bed.  We’re aware that some might not thrive and survive, but they figured that they didn’t cost us anything, and that banking is looking very bare, so maybe they won’t mind the lack of water due to the over-hanging trees above.

Just some of the shallots harvested today.

Just some of the shallots harvested today.

This shot shows just one of the trays filled with shallots this afternoon.  Ian will be running a pickling workshop next weekend (…weather permitting!..), which will be a good thing as we don’t want any to go to waste.  Its a good job everyone has been saving jars suitable for storing them all in!

Finally, we couldn’t finish without a quick shot of a small proportion of the stuff picked today:-

Freshly-picked produce.

Freshly-picked produce.

Top left, we have some wind-fallen eating apples that may still be a little too tart to eat as-is, but will be fine in pies or for making apple sauce with.  Top right is yet more runner beans. (…I know I  said I’d never get sick of these but, well, there are limits!..)  Bottom left is a lettuce covering a few of the jars of preserves made by our volunteers while in the yellow bucket on the bottom right are some of the monster radishes that miraculously self-seeded from last year, a couple of onions and yet more runner beans.  And a tomato from one of the greenhouses right at the bottom.

So, weather-permitting, we’ll be back out there in just a couple of days for yet more picking.

Then on with the plans for next season.  All good fun!

(Note:- Today we had loads of volunteers doing loads of different things, so once again the disclaimer that the above is just what I saw and was a part of.  Other activities included weighing, washing and recording, more scarecrow fun with Emma and the Plot Kids, Barry’s excellent soup-making activities… The list goes on.  And on.  -NPW)

(Further Note:- We’re always looking for contributors to this site, so if you’ve got the urge to write for us and post some photos of your own, then don’t hesitate!  Drop Nick an e-mail and take part in the fun!  -NPW)

Yes Folk’s it’s that time of year. I’m now at the start of producing next years crop rotation.

Once complete you will be able to see what and where was grown this year and what is planned for next year. Also in this action plan will be the required preperation for each “bed” There is a lot of prep work to do so with this in mind I am going to make this a bit of a priority. So if you see me wandering around with a note pad thats what I will be doing, we have got to move fast so hopefully and I mean hopefully I will have the Action plan by the end of Oct.  See you up there or be somewhere else!

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