My allotment has an increasingly mid autumn feel to it. Gone are the summer tender crops, most of which I’ve been able to compost. Instead much of my soil has become covered in a carpet of leaves, which I’ll use to make simple leaf mould. By gathering the leaves and storing them in something as simple as a bin liner, they will rot down in around twelve months. A garden blower or vac can be handy for this, especially the petrol versions as most allotment sites don’t have electricity. If you have a petrol lawnmower, (or a hand lawnmower) run this over the leaves. This will chop them, speeding up the decomposition process.
Taking of autumn colour, the blueberry variety “Rubel” never fails to give a really fiery red grand finale before dropping its leaves for winter. I grow this in my ornamental border at home too such is the attractiveness and welcome height it provides. It is important with blueberries to grow them in acid soil for best results. If that isn’t possible then a large pot filled with ericaceous compost should be fine.
There are still a number of crops suitable for sowing in November and December. The round seeded hardy pea “Douce Provence” is perfect for late autumn or early winter sowing under glass. I grow them on over winter in my cold frame or unheated greenhouse to plant out on my plot next March. If the weather turns very frosty I’ll cover them with fleece, but otherwise they will cope with average winter cold without additional protection.
Traditionally every November also sow hardy winter broad beans and these are a little more resilient than the peas. “Aquadulce Claudia” is the best tasting bean in my opinion with a genuine “old fashioned” bean taste. It is also conveniently the hardiest variety. I sow a row directly in early November, supplemented by further sowings in the unheated greenhouse in trays or pots. These can put outside in pots to prevent them getting too tall too quickly if the winter is mild. I only use fleece as a last resort in severe conditions as broad beans are very hardy as long as the soil drains well.
On the windowsill at home for a tasty nutritious snack Kale seeds take some beating. When grown alongside pea shoots “twinkle” they make a fine tasty sandwich. The seeds can be sown all winter on a light windowsill in moderate heat.
Outdoors on the plot is worth checking to see if any newly planted onions or garlic have been disturbed before they’ve have time to root. Sometimes I come across a few onion sets lying on their side or even pulled out of the soil completely by birds or mice. These can soon be replanted.
Finally, I always ensure I dig over any patches of compacted soil at this time of year. This will aerate the soil and expose slug eggs to birds and other predators to snack on over the next few weeks. With a bit of luck, some severe frosts may destroy a few too.