Terry Walton looks forward to cooler autumn nights
Summer’s long gone and I’m wishing for some colder nights!
Astroll through the allotments brings a stark reminder that summer’s just a dimming memory. The greenhouses have been emptied of tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers and they’re now full of the drying crops of onions and ripening squashes and marrows.
Out on the plot these decent autumn days are suiting the green manures a little too well! There’s no sign of a very cold night to bring them to heel; they continue to look lush and are growing too rapidly for my liking. Soon the allotment will look like a wild prairie, which is not what I wanted!
Many of our plot holders are still traditional in their winter care. They turn the ground over using a spade and leave large clods for the elements to work on. They then lime large areas, transforming the landscape to look like the great Arctic wastes. Personally I find that as the winters get warmer and wetter this traditional autumn liming serves no purpose. Continuous rain washes much of the lime away and by next spring its effects are gone. I find it much more effective to lime in spring to add some zest to the soil.
On my plot there’s still an oasis of colour brought about by my rows of chrysanthemums. The bright colours of red, orange, yellow and white of these stunning flowers glow like fluorescent beacons in some of the dull, dank days of October. These are the perfect cut blooms and bring a piece of the allotment into my home when the cut bunches are spread around the house. The blooms will continue for some weeks yet.
My pumpkin has at last stopped its ramblings over the whole of the bottom of my plot. There’s one large pumpkin there but also some smaller ones, which are ideal for my grandchildren for Hallowe’en. They’ve turned bright orange which is a sure indicator the skins have set and they’re ready for harvest. These can remain in my dry greenhouse for another couple of weeks before being carved up.
The hosepipes which have been kept busy this summer can be rolled up and put away. There are enough hazards around the plot in the winter without falling over a slippery hosepipe! They’re emptied of water, rolled up tight and hung outside my greenhouse for hopefully another dry summer next year!
I’m picking plenty of pink and yellow chrysanths
Good-sized pumpkins are picked, ready for carving soon