After lots of harvesting holes are appearing in the allotment, which I am clearing and covering with plenty of manure as I go along.

I never thought I could get excited about horse poo but I am always happy to see the man from the local stables replenishing the allotment’s stock of this valued commodity. I am spending happy times ferrying loads of the muck from heap to allotment (it takes a lot of it to cover the ground)

Now I have got the opportunity to take stock of what the ground has yielded so far and begin to plan for next year. I know in my initial enthusiasm that I overplanted in some areas. I have enough potatoes to see me through next year, and one I dug up recently was the size of a small child, so I am bagging and storing as much as I can but there is still plenty in the ground. Not only have they produced a great crop but the resulting soil condition is a real improvement on what it was.

onions-from-allotment.gif

Courgettes and beans still abound, the freezer door is getting ever difficult to close and the recipe list grows longer. I have adopted a devil-may-care attitude with the uses we can find for the produce and am prepared to experiment. Courgette champagne/beer is on my list so watch this space to find out if the first draft of the resulting liquid results in appreciative lip smacking or a mild heaving reaction. The preserving pan has had its first outing, there is debate about exactly what constitutes a pickle or a chutney. Our first batch (pictured) we have designated a bean (and courgette I think) ‘chickle’ which has a certain ring to it.

chickle-from-allotment.gif

Is it chutney or pickle? It’s neither – it’s chickle!

The last few months have been a considerable learning curve, even with previous vegetable growing experience. The scale of the allotment is something you really need to get your head round. Next year I intend to manage the space more efficiently. Just observing how fellow allotmenteers organise their patches is useful. The beauty of it is nobody does exactly the same – similar crops are grown in different ways to suit the individuals. I do intend to expand the crop repertoire but still keep to the foods we want to eat. Fruit could be on the agenda next year, my next door neighbour has established a great fruit area and I am particularly taken with cordoned pears (as you do). This is a really efficient way to grow in the space and creates a pleasing/containing wall along a side of his plot.

I still haven’t constructed my ‘super-rustic’ composter as the design, scale and materials to be used are all changing (and I haven’t had the time) but I need it in place soon.

Having an allotment makes you a great forager, modifying materials to suit your purpose. I recently approached a neighbour, having some building work done, regarding taking a couple of wooden pallets (composter construction for the use of) from his skip off his hands, something I would never have considered pre-allotment.

One important thing I must do is make sure I have noted exactly what I have planted and where. Today I am confident I know exactly where things went but in a month’s time the memory might be hazy (I may have started consuming the courgette champagne/beer) so I must be the man with the plan. I am really looking forward to the coming weeks and months. The opportunity is there to really get to grips with the area I have to work with and shape it, something I couldn’t do when I first took it over. I also feel that I am coming to grips with the size of the undertaking and what preparation I need to do to get even better results in the coming year. It is, literally, a case of ‘watch this space’.