Sunday, 20 November 2011

All in apple pie order

I had an amazing day on the allotment yesterday with my nephew Tom Woodford. He did some serious heavy lifting of wood chip mulch and manure and I pruned for Britain. Starting at the front, I cleared back the asparagus, autumn-fruiting raspberries, gooseberries, Jerusalem artichokes, blackberries and grapevine.

Tom mulched the paths with the free wood chip that the council leaves at the site gates and also helped me bring 28 bags of manure down to No 31 to feed and protect the soil.

Tom, glad its's the last bag!
Tom is a keen rugby player and used to play for his university team in Newcastle but he still found that gardening is more than a little physically challenging. Watching him, I was hit by those thoughts that all adults feel when looking at children who have grown up around them. How do they get so big? Gardening, like family, is all about lifecycle and in preparing for winter we are making way for the next generation, the life yet to come.

It was a real treat to have a bit of muscle and I made the most of it. At this time of year I really enjoy putting my allotment to bed, but it is a brutal job involving very heavy lifting. I now have an 8ft tall pile of cut vegetation that will need burning when it has dried out a little and some serious digging to do.

So, thanks to Tom, I have made a great start towards my annual pre-Christmas goal of having the whole site tidy, fed and dormant for the big freeze. I have long since modified my ambitions for winter harvesting as the slugs, wind, birds and snow usually deplete anything I have tried to grow in the past, other than horseradish, Jerusalem artichokes, cavello nero and beetroot. This year I haven't even put in broad beans as the snow really knocked back last year's autumn-planted crop, which was greatly outperformed by those that went in later in the following spring. Gardening is all about learning lessons, and I have learnt mine, which is: don't fight the weather.

Yesterday was also very special because of the heat, we actually caught a little sun and for near December that is extraordinary! And as for my apples, despite taking baskets to SEL and giving bags away, we are still nowhere near working our way through them. So today I will be making an apple pie which, if it is any good I will post a picture of.


  1. Pre-Christmas clear up always makes me reflect on the years growing 'campaign' as well as contemplating the 'brutal' jobs ahead. This years unbelievable star performer was beetroot, abundant and low maintenance beyond all expectations. In its first year of planting it will be certainly be a permanent fixture. Sadly, not even emergency supplies of cow dung could restore the fortunes of our courgettes - supposedly our best yielder every year to date and slightly embarrassing to mess up! The reason in mitigation; a 'high yield' variety of seed. Life is complicated ....

  2. I agree beetroot is a winner, something I managed to continue to harvest right through last winter. Sorry about your courgettes mine were rubbish too, it was the dry weather followed by the wet. Not sure dung would not have helped as over rich soil can cause mildew, if that was your problem. Still, omelettes and upwards! Gardening was sent to try us.

  3. Very cool. I usually take pleasure in the job interviews. Appreciate your possessing this blog