Gardening: October 2017

October 06 2017

Our photo above indicates Hallowe’en is just a couple of weeks away and our clocks will soon go back one hour telling us summer is over! But it’s a great time to reflect on what we’ve achieved over the last few months and look forward to autumn planting. Overall our summer has been wet but warm; together this has helped produce great harvests around the plot. But the humidity did not help those growing tomatoes as this is a perfect condition for blight to occur and for some it had devastating effects, wiping out a crop in a few days, but not so for Matt, one of our plot holders on Hillside Allotments.

Summer harvest - autumn planting

Our photo above indicates Hallowe’en is just a couple of weeks away and our clocks will soon go back one hour telling us summer is over! But it’s a great time to reflect on what we’ve achieved over the last few months and look forward to autumn planting. Overall our summer has been wet but warm; together this has helped produce great harvests around the plot. But the humidity did not help those growing tomatoes as this is a perfect condition for blight to occur and for some it had devastating effects, wiping out a crop in a few days, but not so for Matt, one of our plot holders on Hillside Allotments.
Although, Matt has a greenhouse he prefers to grow tomatoes outside and our picture of just one picking proves why. Mountain Magic and Crimson Crush were grown from seed under glass and transplanted into a bed without any special preparation as he maintains there should be enough nutrients in reasonable soil for tomatoes to thrive. Likewise, his outdoor cucumbers Bush Champion, grown the same way had an excellent crop of no less than ten excellent specimens picked at the same time as the tomatoes with more to follow.
We mentioned autumn planting above, this includes garlic bulbs and spring cabbage plants which are hardy and will develop well throughout the winter, but protect the latter with netting otherwise pigeons will see them as a tasty meal. Broad Beans are an excellent crop to sow in the autumn for early harvesting next spring with Aquadulce Claudia or Super Aquadulce being the favourites of many. But here’s a tip to get your beans off to an excellent start. Whilst Broad Beans can be sown directly into the ground, germination can sometimes be hit and miss. As an alternative, use a plastic bag that excludes light; place a small amount of damp multi-purpose compost into the bag, adding the beans whilst ensuring the seeds have a thin coating of compost and leave in a warm place for a few days. If you haven’t got a suitable bag, use a shallow seed tray, simply covering the beans in compost. As the beans begin to sprout, transfer them individually into three inch pots or six-cell trays and allow them to develop into seedlings. When they are just a few inches tall, harden them off and plant them into your final growing bed.
Now, hands-up those who like parsnips! OK. Hands up those who like Turnip Rooted Chervil! You’ll be forgiven if you not familiar with this vegetable, not many of us are. Turnip Rooted Chervil or Chaerophyllum bulbosum which have short stubby roots have been described by those in the know as a cross between syrup sweetened parsnips and buttered baked potatoes. They seem to have dis-appeared from our shores over the last hundred years or so, but many French cuisine experts adore them and consider parsnips in comparison as fodder food who, they assure us if we try them, we may agree.
Whilst parsnips can be erratic to grow and sometimes with results that are not quite what we would have liked, Turnip Rooted Chervil are said to be easier in cultivation but longer to reach harvest, twelve months in fact. The seeds are sown direct in mid-Autumn and need several weeks of cool damp conditions. Low winter temperatures will start the germination process and it will be next spring before any shoots are seen. The plants will mature throughout the summer period and the crop should not be harvested until the frosts of early next winter which help break down the starch they contain into sugars. This makes them superb for roasting, mashing or making some fantastic soups.
As you might expect with this vegetable being so long off the radar, the seed has been difficult to find, however our Allotment Shop has tracked some down through seed suppliers www.plant-world-seeds.com and we have some packets in stock if you would like to try them. Please call in and ask for a packet of Turnip Rooted Chervil, the packs contain a minimum of 200 seeds for just over a couple of pounds and although it will be next year before your results are known, we’ll be delighted if you let us have your feedback, perhaps together we can put this great vegetable back on the map.
Apart from growing fresh vegetables, if you ask a group of plot holders why they have an allotment almost certainly everyone will give you a different answer. This could range from, retired and have time, unwinding from a stressful job or simply, its great exercise at my own speed with lots of fresh air. So it’s no wonder that plot holders keep their ground for many years, but that doesn’t mean to say vacancies never arise. Plots become vacant for various reasons, perhaps the current holder needs to downsize or upsize, we try to meet everyone’s needs so availability is always changing. Please get in touch with us if you could be interested in taking one of our plots and tell us your requirements, we’ll be delighted to hear from you.

Email: beaanews@gmail.com or call 0117-932-5852.
www.bristoleastallotments.com.
Bristol East Allotments Association, Nicholas Lane,
St George. BS5 8RU.