Saturday, 4 October 2008

The Start of My Autumn Almanac

As I write, the wind is howling and rushing through the trees. The flock of geese gathering at the lake have given up flying round in larger and larger flocks for the night, and are honking to each other on the island in the middle of the water. The planes that pass over en route to and from the three airports nearby are flying lower because of the cloud and sound like they're barely clearing the roof.

Right now, Summer feels long gone and I doubt I'll see the sun for a few months.

So much for an Indian Summer. The season has changed in a matter of days. At the start of the week the Maple tree I can see from the window was still green. By Thursday it had turned a deep crimson. Several of the other trees nearby have taken on hues ranging from yellow to bronze. Pretty soon I'll be raking up leaves and refilling my leaf mould bin at the allotment.

Apologies for missing last week. On Saturday we went to the Malvern Autumn Show with a couple of friends we've made over the new allotment. We set out early in the thick fog, which meant that many of the most scenic parts of the journey were barely visible. Even the great gap in the chalk hills as we left the Chilterns at Stokenchurch was missed because of the weather. In fact, when we arrived at the show, it was still foggy enough for the backdrop of the ridge of the Malvern Hills to be lost in the murk. Our friends had never visited the area before, so when we emerged from the exhibition and monster vegetable show tent to find the sun had finally burnt through, they were enchanted by the view. We all had a great day, comparing the prize winning veg with those we'd grown or had won at our allotment show, looking at the chicken houses and poultry show, then the old cider making machines and taking notes. I was remarkably sensible. Apart from a couple of Alpine plants to go in a trough, everything I bought from the gardening section of the show was "productive". Ok, I suspect that the Samphire plants may not grow as well as they could in the correct habitat, but we should be able to get a few leaves off them. Somehow or other, we managed to prevent the "boys" from spending the whole day in the classic and vintage vehicle section of the show, and managed to make it to the food hall. As we were getting a lift home, I was careful not to buy any ripe cheese, but stocked up on a few goodies all the same.

We broke our return journey for dinner, having realised that apart from some Water Buffalo milk ice cream and half a pint of artisan single variety cider, all I'd had to eat and drink all day had been samples from the various stalls. In spite of the break in the long journey, we arrived home well before midnight.

The following day, once our legs had recovered from all the walking, we headed over the allotment to start planting our purchases - red onions, garlic, elephant garlic and shallots. We also started preparing the ground for sowing the broad beans and peas we had bought. Those will go in over the next couple of weeks, and the century old varieties of sweet peas will be sown to overwinter in pots in the greenhouse before the month is out too.

Although I missed a week's entry, I didn't miss an entry in the Wartime Weekend Gardener, as it was one of the "spare" weekends. The instructions for the first weekend of October are:

Plant some extra Spring Cabbage seedlings, to allow for the inevitable losses from pigeons etc. over the next few months. We put a fleece cage over our kale seedlings, and something - squirrel I suspect - has been using the top as a trampoline.

Also, sow some Winter Radish. Although still a less popular crop, some varieties, such as Black Spanish, grow large enough to substitute for turnip, but with a little extra kick.

Anyway, wrap up warm, and those who need it - get your flu jab. I suspect that even if it isn't a hard Winter, it's going to be a miserable one.

No comments: