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Some More Odd Jobs.

My Broad Beans had been started off in trays in my greenhouse a few weeks earlier, but it was not until about mid November before I actually planted them out in my Plot. It was a bit late for them and we had had a couple of frosts, but as November was forecast to be relatively mild I thought that there wouldnít be a problem and they would still get established before the weather turned really bad. Sometimes I start them off in the greenhouse and sometimes I sow them directly in the ground, but it does speed up their germination if you put them inside for a bit and also protects them from Mice that love to eat them! As with all beans they like a bit of something to get their roots into so I had dug some rough compost into the patch prior to planting. The Compost had been sitting there for some time after I had left it piled up on the bed from earlier when I had dug out my Compost heap and had nowhere else to put it.
The Compost Heap builds up very quickly in the Autumn with all the great piles of rubbish from tender things like Beans, Courgettes and Squash, but I also like to chop up my Raspberry and fruit tree prunings and add those along with the rubbish from things that are tidied up a bit later like Jerusalem Artichokes, Sea Kale leaves and Rhubarb leaves. It all goes together to make a good mix and provides a nice little job occasionally for a cold winters day in turning the heap and it should be ready for use by the Spring.
I am collecting more and more leaves from all of the fruit trees on my plot and I mix those into my compost as well, although you shouldnít really because they take much longer to decompose properly. It is always recommended to Compost Leaves separately. However, I feel that even if they havenít rotted properly when the compost is dug out, they will go on breaking down in situ, on the beds, and you can use fresh leaves as a mulch on your beds anyway.
Just before Spring comes around next year, I plan to dig out my Compost Heap and turn it into the whole of the bed where I intend to grow my various Beans. This last Season I removed the top few inches of soil from the Bed that I was to plant my Beans in and covered the whole bed with a layer of rough Compost before replacing the soil on top on it and then planting. It worked very well and gave me a good crop of all 3 different Beans Ė Runners, Dwarf French and an old Heritage Climber, so I am doing the same thing again. Of course the Compost will also feed that bed and although it is not as rich as manure I wonít need to manure it, but I will be manuring all of my other empty beds. The Rhubarb patch especially always gets a fresh layer of Manure every winter with my being careful to spread it all round the Rhubarb Crowns and not over them or else they might rot.

The Asparagus tops have just been cut down after turning brown and the frosts in early November took the Yacon Tops, but with both, the plants will be fine underneath the ground, although if I am going to leave the Yacon for a while before harvesting I sometimes like to cover the cut down Crowns with some WoodChip to protect them and put an upturned plant pot on top to mark where they are.

The first Yacon plant that I dug up had a much bigger top to it than I normally get and it had some lovely big Tubers underneath that I think that was down to several things. I did feed the patch with extra Chicken Manure Pellets prior to planting and it was a little bit of a shady spot so may also have been a bit damper than other patches on my plot.
I divided some Rhubarb Crowns up at the end of last month and did a similar thing with the Yacon Crown from the first plant that I harvested. Normally I get 4, or 5 suitable pieces for replanting out of each plant, but with this one I got 8 pieces to pot up. When you divide the Crown you can be quite brutal with cutting them up as long as each piece has a little cluster of Buds. Each piece only needs to be a couple of inches each way for size and doesnít need any roots in the same way that Rhubarb doesnít. The pieces will root quite readily as they start into growth. These potted pieces will need to be kept fairly dry and frost free in my Greenhouse over Winter, until the Spring approaches and then they will be watered and coaxed into growth. As I harvest subsequent plants I will divide those Crowns to give me some surplus plants for the Allotments Fundraiser Day in the Spring.

Also with the potential to give me some surplus plants for next Spring were my Sea Kale beds. The plants have an unfortunate tendency to travel underground and come up where you donít want them, so while tidying up the 2 beds I removed a quantity of Crowns (Or Slips) with some underground stem attached that were then treated like many other cuttings are at this time of year and pushed deeply into an empty bed to root. By the Spring most of them should be showing signs of rooting and can then be potted.

One thing that Harvests late in the year are the fruits of the Cape Gooseberries which have been very good this season. By early November I was able to start picking Hand Fulls of lovely, ripe, bright yellowy, tangy berries. Those that arenít ripe on the first picking will go on ripening after the first frosts without damage and are even pickable deep into the Winter - long after the plants have died and turned brown, or at least until Christmas when I have been able to pick them previous years.

The end of October, or start of November is normally the ideal time to harvest Medlar fruits, but although we had a few cold nights and a couple of sharp frosts at the start of November and even a couple of light frosts in October, it wasnít really cold enough to affect the fruits and make them ready for picking. Many fruits had been blown off the tree by some strong winds that we had anyway, so a couple of weeks ago I decided to pick what there was and take a chance with them hoping that I could ripen them in my cold garage. I was desperate to harvest them because I wanted to prune the tree, although I have to confess that I donít know if it was the right time to prune it. The tree hadnít really been pruned since it was moved a few years ago and was going way over our Allotment height limit. I hadnít been told about it and it wasnít casting shadow over anybody elseís plot, but it was setting a bad example to the other Plot Holders with trees.
As Winter comes there will be fewer and fewer odd jobs to do, but there is always something.

 

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