Terry Walton is safely removing protective nets off his crops
Cooler weather means there are fewer pests to attack my plants
Amajor change in the appearance of my plot at this time of year is its openness. As the days get cooler and pests are no longer on the prowl, I can safely remove some of the protective barriers and let the crops grow freely in the open again.
As an organic grower, I’m constantly battling to keep pests at bay and so have to resort to using barrier protection over my crops. There are nets over my brassicas to ward off cabbage white butterflies, and prevent their offspring caterpillars feasting on the tender leaves, plus there are the Enviromesh covers to fend off carrot root fly.
Going net-free makes the plot look much tidier, but without all that protection there’s little chance of getting my full share of crops in pristine condition. Having a cluttered plot, though, is far better than spraying chemicals everywhere to control the pests.
October reminds us that plants and trees are getting ready for their winter slumber. The leaves have lost their sparkle and are valiantly clinging to the branches. Soon they’ll fall like confetti, blanketing the ground in a colourful carpet and providing a late feast for the worms that lie beneath.
However, this is not the time to ‘shut up shed’ and turn into a couch potato, because there’s plenty to do on the plot and sowings to be made for the start of the next growing season. Now’s the time to sow winter onion sets and give them a chance to establish before winter’s icy grip takes hold. I’m growing the varieties ‘Radar’ and ‘Electric’.
I plant my onions in half drums sheltered behind my shed for the best chance of a successful crop. I partly fill the drums with well-rotted horse manure and top it off with multi-purpose compost, so the onions have a near-perfect place to start their winter journey. These will make root below the surface and when the warmer days of spring arrive they’ll grow on sturdily, providing fresh onion crops just as your winter store is used up.
The dry summer was a godsend for my leek crops, which have grown well in their plastic tubes. There has been little sign of the rust which affects the outer leaves of this crop. Another plus for the dry weather! One or two leaves that had a small amount of rust were swiftly removed and destroyed.
It’s time to savour the mild onion-like taste, so a leek is dug up, released from its tube, washed and made ready for the kitchen.
And, finally, I’ve harvested my solitary melon. A taste of this fruit has taken a lot of my effort to produce – but it was worth it!
The dry summer has suited my leek crop
Tales from the Star of BBC Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine Show and author. His plot sits in the Rhondda Valley
Harvesting my solitary melon