Hello September!

Well hello there! I must apologise for my absence but it has been a busy old summer! I have been looking after an unwell Grandmother (who is much better now, thank goodness), had my brother, sister in law, nephew and neice visiting, then a week away in the Lake District for our first holiday in 7 years! I have been doing allotment visits in between but unfortunately not nearly often enough and have been quite unmotivated to write about it. But here’s to a new month and hopefully a more productive one.

I think that September is one of my very favourite months of the year. Once the school holidays have finished, the weather inevitably cheers up and Cornwall goes back to being a relatively peaceful place! The evenings are still relatively light and I can still enjoy being out in the garden. There is plenty of veg to be harvested (assuming I have bothered to tend to it!) and more to look forward to. My absolute favourite thing about this time of year is the wild berries that can be harvested for free. I popped out for a quick wander with Ashley earlier this evening and was gutted that I hadn’t taken a bowl to pick blackberries. I wanted to go back out as soon as we got back but unfortunately the rain started – I will be out there tomorrow picking them I think. Last year I made blackberry jam and I like to make a few blackberry and apple crumbles for the freezer. I like to add a bit of cinnamon for a really warming flavour on a cold winters evening. Nearby, there is an apple tree that I have picked apples from in previous years, but it is quite tricky to get at!

After our week away, one of the first things we did was, of course, take a trip to the allotment to see how things were doing. We were greeted, unsurprisingly, by lots and lots of weeds and about 6 giant marrows. I gather there was a fair amount of sunshine and rain whilst we were away so the courgettes grew and grew! The heaviest weighs nearly 10lbs!

┬áThere were no runner beans to speak of (only the tiniest start of beans) a few days before we left and I have since picked a bag full of good sized beans and a couple of super long ones, over 30cm in length! I’ve never grown runner beans before and have to say I’m very pleased with them. I have blanched and frozen some and kept a few fresh in the fridge for the week. There will be plenty more to harvest in the weeks to come. The peas have been cropping fairly well, though I haven’t stayed on top of picking them as much as I would have liked. There are some pods that have started drying out on the plant, so I will leave them to dry and save them for seed next year. The swiss chard is still going strong, though I’ve long run out of ideas to use it up! Our harvested onions have dried well and should keep nicely, I wonder how long they will last us – I use quite a lot of onions. The leeks are looking fabulous! I’ve only tried growing leeks once before, and the neighbours cat sat on the seedlings and killed them. I can’t wait to get using the leeks, I’m not sure if I can start using them now but I think most need a bit longer to grow. Next year I must plant them a little deeper and maybe earth them up a little to blanch (i that the correct term?) the stems a bit more. I like the green bits on leeks though, so I’m not too worried about that. Unfortunately, whilst we were away the cabbage whites got to the brocolli and brussel sprouts and have done a fair bit of damage. We might still get a bit of brocolli as the heads have started developing on a couple of the plants, but I fear that the Brussel sprouts may be past it. I planted out some dwarf french bean plants (that had been started in the greenhouse) before we went away – these haven’t done much. The sweet peas are going strong and I think we will have quite a lot more flowers before the end of September.

I have started planning for winter and next year at the allotment. I should have already sorted seedlings and young plants such as Kale, but I haven’t so I’ll be keping an eye out for small plants being sold locally. If I don’t see any for a reasonable price, I’ll leave it until next year and try to be better prepared. I would like to get the blackcurrant bushes from our back garden moved to the allotment soon, then I might actually have some flowers in my garden next year! I’m thinking about having quite a few flowers at the allotment next year too – you can never have too many pollinaters! Next year, I need to make some proper fruit cages as the temporary netting around the raspberries isn’t big enough – the plants are outgrowing it and it’s quite difficult to get at the ripe berries. There will be blackcurrants to protect next year too. I need to re pot my patio plum tree soon, it has grown well this year and needs a much bigger pot already. We have mulched an area big enough for 3 medium sized beds so they need creating this winter, and all of the beds already there need a good layer of compost and/or manure. We are very fortunate to have a ready supply of fresh and rotted manure and we have 3 compost bins on the go with the chickens doing their bit too! We also found out that well known coffee shops such as Starbucks (other coffee shops are available) will give you bags full of used coffee grounds for free and this is a great addition to a compost heap.

So plenty to be getting on with and plenty of lessons learned as we near the end of our first summer at our allotment.

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