The summer growing season is over, and allotments are being put to bed. But for allotmenteers there is still work to be done. It is still too early to prune fruit trees, for apples need to be pruned in January, and I have an experienced nurseryman son who is offering to do the pruning. I have a stump of a pear tree to grub up. The tree underperformed and I found some rot, so sadly it had to go. But grubbing up a stump is harder than felling a tree. Again, my thirty three year old son is promising to assist me. There are times when realize that I am sixty four and he is thirty three, and that the physical difference is showing.
But for me October begins a period of re-organisation and planning. I am moving some of the raised bed around. I use pallet collars, and I am planning to put one atop the other to create deep raised beds. The vegetables to go into them, parsnips and carrots, vegetables that like deep soil into which they can grow long and large. I had a three and a half pound parsnip this week, and have been munching through it steadily at dinner. Here's hoping that next year there are giant ones to come from the new deep beds.
The last of the sweet corn is to come out before the squirrels get to it. That's due to be taken up tomorrow.
Yet soil preparation is the main task. I am a bit annoyed. The manure deliverer promised to come on Tuesday, but didn't but the weather was bad, so I forgave him. He didn't come on Saturday, no trailer, but Sunday was inexcusable. He had a hangover! That's not the way to run a business. So I am looking for another source of manure. I might use my traditional fall-back position: pelleted chicken manure and lots of purchased compost. But I have been trying to get leaves to mulch the ground. I got some myself and covered one of the beds, but we are phoning the council, which tries to collect fallen leaves before November 11th, Remembrance Sunday. If possible, I cover all the ground with leaves. They starve weeds of light, keep the ground warm and when they rot condition the soil. I was going round the streets tomorrow harvesting leaves, but I have been asked to apply for a journalistic post, and must work hard at my application. But my wife is in London tomorrow and my son on holiday in Portugal with his fiance, so I am having a peaceful day to myself. I might get some work done in the afternoon, but that depends upon the currently inclement British weather. I am going to get some rock dust. Powdered granite works wonders for mineralization.
Yet committee work goes on. I am membership secretary. I have been chairman, but stood down a few years ago when I was having health problems, now healed. But we are having a new path surface through the allotment,as the present surface is rutted. But we are having electricity at last, so that will have to be done first. There are also two small trees to come down. Jeff, who has a chainsaw, is doing it, but he has a bad back, so when he is ready I know not. But early one morning I will be round to help, with my hard hat for safety. We need to do it early so that there is no one in the car park when the trees fall. So October is not a lazy time for allotmenteers, that's if they take their plots seriously.