September on the Allotment

After weeks of hearing the call of autumn suddenly summer is back with a bang. The beginning of the week was sweltering hot and the only shade my plot offers is in the shed! This is where I go to hide on super hot days, in winter I can be found slurping soup.

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The allotment is looking a bit ‘crispy’ in places where things are starting die back, powdery mildew has reared its ugly head on the courgette plants (usual for the time of year) while winter squash are starting to brown on the leaves. I’ve grown some monster butternuts this year, absolutely huge. I got the seed from Mr Fothergill’s and the variety is Sweetmax which is also good for exhibition. I gave a couple of plants to my dad for his allotment and he grew some impressive butternuts too. I guess there will be lots of soup for the shed this winter.

I had a bash at growing celeriac for the first time this year. I started them off early March, the seed is super tiny which is amazing considering how big they eventually become. They can take a few weeks to germinate so patience is needed. I planted the young plants out after harvesting my garlic, adding compost beforehand to give the planting area a boost of nutrients. I had such a laugh recently with a plot neighbour about these curious looking veg, he asked me about them and then couldn’t pronounce the word celeriac, saying something similar to ‘cellick’ over and over again with a puzzled look on his face. It was very funny at the time!

I’ve mentioned it many times before, I know, but I do love growing pumpkins and winter squash. They are hands down my favourite crops to grow. The pumpkin patch is a sea of green leaves all summer long which is nothing exciting to look at, but come September when we tip toe into autumn something amazing happens. The dying leaves reveal beautiful glowing fruits of many colours; some are orange as we know them to be and others are green, blue/grey or even white. There are warty ones or striped, long or round, some are huge and some are so small they sit on the palm of your hand. I love them all and will never tire of growing them.

The carrots have done me proud again this year, variety Autumn King my old favourite. I forgot to thin them out again though so they’re not as big as they usually are this time of year but that doesn’t make any difference to the taste, they’re small but still carroty. Ha ha!

After a shaky start the runner beans are flowering like mad and producing. I planted out hardened off young bean plants at the end of May as I usually do but they really struggled to get going due to the weather at the time which was rather warm and probably lack of water. I tried sowing seed direct around each hazel pole late June which worked really well, I thought the mice would get the seed but luckily they left mine alone. I did the same for the Borlotti beans which also struggled to get going earlier on in the year, they too responded well to direct sowing. I’ve never had problems growing beans before so this was a new learning curve for me. In a funny sort of way this has worked out better because I didn’t have a glut of runners to contend with at the height of summer and my bean plants are stronger than they usually are. I’ve always worried about sowing beans direct but I think I’ll try it again next year.

The Borlotti beans are beginning to dry out on the plants now, you can tell when the drying process begins by the pod colour which changes from shocking pink to deep purple. I will begin picking the dry pods once the leaves start dying back and allow them to continue to dry at home in the greenhouse before podding and storing.

The weather is set to remain dry and begin cooling off as the week progresses. I have allotment plans for the weekend which involves working on plot 11w and I’ve even managed to rope in some help to put the raised beds together! I can’t wait to get started on the transformation.


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