If you like nothing more than to potter in your allotment, earth on your hands and the aroma of fresh greenery in the air, you’re not alone. For many people, growing giant vegetables or digging up home-grown spuds is much more fun than vegging out indoors on the sofa.
National Allotments Week takes place between 14-20 August so we thought now would be the ideal time to remind you what jobs need doing on your patch this autumn.
- It’s time to pick your peas and beans! Once the plants are bare, simply cut them down to ground level, leaving the roots in the soil in order to increase nitrogen in the soil which is slowly released as the roots break down.
- Before the first frosts come, harvest pumpkins, marrows and others from the gourd family as they will quickly go mushy if left outside.
- Once picked, cabbages need their roots to be left in the ground. Make a cut across the stem to encourage the growth of smaller leaves.
- Autumn is also apple-picking time. To test for ripeness, give them a gentle pull or lift them in the palm of your hand – they should come away easily.
- Plant onions and garlic now, ready to harvest by summer.
- Autumn is also ideal for planting most varieties of fruit trees.
- Plant blueberries in acid soil; alternatively, grow them in pots of ericaceous compost.
- Early autumn sowings of spinach will keep you stocked with tender, tasty leaves throughout winter and if you harvest regularly, it’ll keep on giving well into summer!
- If you have the space, plant an autumn planting asparagus variety like ‘Pacific 2000’ or the more colourful ‘Pacific Purple’. Asparagus beds take many years to establish but they keep on cropping for around 25 years – tender, home grown asparagus is well worth the wait!
- Hang any plants with remaining peppers or green tomatoes, upside down to ripen indoors.
- Protect cauliflower from frost by wrapping the outer leaves around the heads and securing them with string.
- Cut back yellowing asparagus to around 5cm off the ground.
- Take citrus trees and tender plants indoors to a bright, frost-free place (ideal temperature 4-12°C), away from radiators and cold draughts. Take care not to over-water them during winter and check plants going inside for aphids and other pests.
- Divide thick clumps of rhubarb by digging them up and splitting them into several pieces. Then replant the healthiest looking pieces.
Did we miss anything? We probably did – gardening at any time of the year can be an all-consuming matter, from picking and planting to digging and nurturing. We’d love to know what you are doing on your allotment this autumn so please let us know on Facebook.