Life on The Weald (and still in isolation) - October 2020
The first two days of October started well with relatively mild weather but then, on Saturday 3rd, England experienced the heaviest rainfall in one day on record. Brighton and Hove fared less badly than many parts of the country but it was still a heavy downpour which caused some waterlogging on the plot.
Just before the rain came down, I checked on the progress of my recent sowings. Last month I sowed some beet spinach and some beetroot in a raised bed that had been cleared of French beans and to which I had added some well rotted compost. I was pleased to see they had germinated.
|3rd October - beetroot and spinach seedlings|
behind the celery
|3 October - kalettes|
|3 October - Swiss Chard|
The pumpkins are ripening and the leaves and stems, dying off. As soon as the stalk is dry they will be harvested, probably by the middle of the month.
|6 October - pumpkins ripening|
6 October saw the arrival of a delivery of tree/hedge clippings and wood chips. These are delivered to our allotment periodically from an approved supplier and make a good mulch, acting as a moisture retainer and weed suppressant and which gradually break down to form a good compost. They are also excellent for creating and renewing pathways and around raised beds.
|Change of hue on the footpath|
October is a good time to think about pruning the currant bushes and the raspberries. I made a start with the black currants which fruit best on branches that are one year old. In pruning, therefore, it is best to remove the old wood, cutting back about one third and removing any dead or diseased branches or any that cross over others. Cutting back old branches right to the base will encourage new growth.
|South Downs sloes - 14 October|
|Sloes - fruit of the wild blackthorn|
|South Downs blackthorn - prunus spinosa|
|Some of the 4kg of sloes picked|
|Straining the Rhubarb gin|
|Rhubarb gin bottled - 2020 vintage|
I have saved the gin-soaked rhubarb and put it in the fridge for future use.
On 18 October, I cleared the area in front of the blackcurrants, where the climbing French beans had been as I wanted to try growing some late planted mustard greens. I had sown the seeds in a tray at home and they had just germinated and should be ready for planting out soon.
|checking the fleece tunnel|
I had planted some shallot sets in September, in a raised bed where dwarf French beans had been growing. I had covered them with fleece to stop the birds from unearthing them. They seem to have rooted well and the new shoots were struggling against the fleece so I thought it was time to remove it.
|18 October - shallots|
|apple pulp straining overnight in a jelly bag|
I used some of this juice to mix with the gin-soaked rhubarb, left from the gin making, to make apple and rhubarb gin jam and the remainder to make rosemary jelly.
|26 October - leeks looking good but.....|
|Early planted Musselburgh leeks |
|The dreaded allium leaf miner|
The maggots bore into the foliage, stems or bulbs of their host plants and, after a couple of weeks, are fully fed and ready to turn into brown pupae. Pupation takes place mainly within the stems and bulbs during summer and winter but some pupae may end up in the soil, especially where plants have rotted off.The parts of the leek that are not infected are edible but anything thrown away should not be composted as the pupae may survive and infect the soil. General advice is to net the plants when planting out with insect-proof mesh - the flies are about 3mm so very fine mesh is needed. Gardeners are also advised to lift and remove the entire crop if infected!
|Purple cayenne ripening 30 October|
|Aquadulce broad beans 25 October|
|Aquadulce broad beans 25 October|
We had planted different varieties of purple sprouting broccoli and obviously at least one was a very early sprouting variety as it has already produced florets which are ready to pick. This is one of my favourite vegetables - and was delicious. The first picking is always something to look forward to and as we had provided netting protection we were able to benefit rather than the pigeons.
|Chard - picked 26 October|
The last few days of October have seen continuous heavy rain and strong winds and not conducive to outdoor gardening - or many other things outside! I was due to abseil from the 163m high i360 tower for charity this month but, regrettably, it has been postponed twice for safety reasons due to high winds and has now been rescheduled for November 14th when, hopefully, there will be more settled weather. Details can be found at John's i360 abseil
|The October drop that wasn't|
Due to the Covid epidemic, we do not expect any "trick or treat" visitors to our door this year but we do have our traditional pumpkins which were harvested earlier this month.
|Home grown pumpkins, harvested 12 October|
We finished off this rather wintry month with some warming pumpkin soup!