Hopefully no snow for a while though.
But there's definitely a chill in the air. I've even switched the heater on for an hour or so this past week, but I'm determined to hold off on switching on the central heating for a few weeks yet. Dig out my jumpers, switch to the thicker duvet and add more pot barley and lentils to the diet before that happens!
Made the most of two days of dry weather this weekend and knuckled down to some hard work at the allotment. As the days shorten, the work that needs doing seems to get harder and more physical. The time has come for digging and clearing - we're clearing couch grass and preparing the areas that were too sodden to work on last Autumn and Winter. Hopefully we will be able to improve the soil and in particular the drainage to maximise the space available to grow fruit around the edges of the plot. First things first, have to bring the brambles back under control now they've stopped fruiting.
Just as we were packing up to leave yesterday, there was a commotion in the trees and a Mallard duck landed in the nettle patch on the next plot. I went to check she wasn't injured and she looked fine, but she waddled off deeper into the woods. We followed her and "herded" back out to the more open plots. After a rest and a chance to regain her bearings she flew over the fence and onto the brook, which was a relief as with dusk falling the foxes were starting to do their rounds.
Today we turned out last year's leaf mould ready to start gathering this year's in the bin. We managed to decant enough rich crumbly well rotted stuff to fill two compost daleks. Not bad for a year doing nothing to it. We also turned out the regular compost bin, and carefully layered the grass we'd cut down on Saturday with the more fully rotted stuff and some strawy manure so it rotted down nicely through the Winter.
Howard made a bumble bee shelter out of bricks and roof tiles, and stuffed it with wood chippings and dry leaves, as a few bumble bees had started hibernating in our wood chip bin. They were safely transferred to the new shelter, which was then covered in more leaves and branches.
So two days of useful work. With most of the overwintering crops sown and planted, we are on track in case the weather turns. We're also going to be away next weekend, so the extra hours compensate for that.
We're off to the Herefordshire Food Festival next weekend. We went last year and thoroughly enjoyed it, so decided to go this year as well. It's a part of the country we love - there seems to be an extra intensity to the colour green once you cross the county boundary. And how many cities as small as Hereford can boast three well stocked cook shops?
Anyway, the tasks noted in the Wartime Weekend Gardener for this weekend and next are:
Lift and store root crops ahead of the frost. Some roots, parsnip in particular, benefit from some cold, but that's no good if the ground is frozen solid and you can't lift them. As the weather should be mild enough in the South for a few more weeks, lift some and freeze them ready prepped, but be ready to keep some in store once the frosts hit.
Prune fruit trees and bushes. Leaves are starting to fall, but so far nothing is fully bare and dormant on our plot just yet. Once they are, I'll be ready to knock them into shape ready for their new permanent home.
Plant Jerusalem Artichoke tubers. If you haven't grown them before, it may be a good time to think about planting up a new patch. But as I've been growing them for several years, I usually wait until February when I lift the last batch of the year's crop.
Dig and manure bare ground. Well, that's what we started doing this weekend, and will be doing every dry weekend until March.