design for a sustainable future
August and September
Summer has come and gone on our allotment. It has been a wonderful summer and the harvest has been excellent ...
By August growth is very well established and although it is still necessary to water most of the plants can manage for a few days without our tending. This is really fortunate as we were unexpectedly away from the plot for two weeks but with the support of friends and family visiting to water and pick produce everything survived and continued to prosper. It is always difficult for us to go away in August as we need to be around to harvest all the produce we have been bringing on for months.
There are huge amounts of beans, beetroots, salad leaves, soft fruits, courgettes and tomatoes to harvest regularly so they don't go to waste and if the weather is hot and sunny we need to water regularly. We have never mentioned the amount of support we receive, not only from our friends and family but also from other plot holders. An allotment is a huge undertaking and it's not always possible to do everything ourselves or to be there when we need to, and this is when others come to fore with offers of support. Other plot holders might notice that we have not been around for a while and will often water plants that look as if they are on their last legs, friends and family will offer to water, (a huge undertaking that can take one person almost two hours to do the whole plot). They will also pick produce which is really important as there is nothing more depressing than seeing fruit and vegetables pass over.
September is the month when we really become aware of 'Autumn's mellow fruitfulness' as we continue to harvest from the plot. We are still cropping strawberries, blackberries and raspberries and the tomatoes are coming to their zenith. The pears hang in huge clusters slowly ripening in the Autumn sun. At this time of year there is a great deal to do to store as much as we can to savour over the winter. Onions must be dried, tied in bunches and then hung in a cool dry place, beetroots are pickled or made into soup, homemade tomato sauces and stewed apples are put in the freezer.
September is also the time for the site charity Open Day, when visitors can come and look at our plots, buy produce, check out the beehives and the vineyards, browse the different stalls and have a cup of tea and a piece of homemade cake. There is also a Show tent where plot holders can enter their fruit and vegetables to be judged in a variety of different categories. This year we did pretty well, coming first with our onions, pears, strawberries, and the heaviest onion and longest runner bean categories - we pin our little certificates inside the shed to remind us of our successes! As the month comes to a close we start prepare some of the beds by digging in our compost before planting over wintering crops such as Japanese onions and broad beans. I still need to repair the shed roof and treat the shed and our two benches with wood preserver, but that will have to wait until next month.
Text and photo by Libby Hawkins, © 2009 all rights reserved