One man and his organic plot - Autumn is coming

  • Last updated: 7 October 2022

I always feel that September is a month with a slightly melancholy feel; summer is not yet over, but the first signs of a season-ending are in the air, and we all know that autumn beckons. Plants start to signal that change is coming with Courgettes, the workhorse plants of 2021, surrendering to mildew that slowly invades its leaves, the hardy annual plants are all setting seed, and even the weeds begin to slow down. I love autumn for many reasons; it's a time for planning, planting, incredible beauty and a time of reflection.

However, as I say, it's not quite here yet, and there is still plenty going on, on the allotment. It continues to give up its yield, with the late arrivals of runner beans and sweetcorn now really giving up their bounty with great gusto. The Aubergines and Peppers have arrived, which is a great surprise to me as the dank grey summer looked to have defeated them until very recently. I will reserve a special mention to the humble edible leaf that I have enjoyed all summer, which continues to supply my kitchen. The leaves of beetroot have been a revelation to me this year and added to the constant supply of spinach and chard; it has been the year of the leaf. I am also proud to announce that my late crop of Potatoes is making an appearance, and those Christmas roasties are looking good for the menu on the big day. We are also well into Squash and Pumpkin territory, and as usual, I look at these plants and their crops and feel both excitement and slight dread about how many I'll have to deal with. I might try and store some in the sand this year. There are only so many you can give to the neighbours.

Of course, there are many practical tasks to be getting on with at this time of the year. As crops finish, bare patches of soil are starting to appear, and they are an anomaly to the organic gardener. I will be planning to keep as much of the plot as productive as possible, with Brassicas, Turnips, Onions, Broad beans just some of the crops to go in, the ground leftover will be broadcast sown with green manures, with mustard and field beans being my crops of choice. These will protect the soil through the winter, helping prevent leaching of nutrients, colonise weeds, and act as a soil conditioner, a win, win in many ways.

One of the compost bays is looking full and will be turned into the second bay to make way for a rush of plant material next month, and the leaf mould bay is ready to go for that free bonanza of leaves that is heading our way as the deciduous trees turn to their winter sleep. I'll also begin seed saving soon, starting with the beautiful corridors of hardy annuals that will give me a considerable windfall, guaranteeing next year's colour. I'll also use the bottom of the allotment to create some Habitat piles, ensuring I'm helping my plots with many types of wildlife throughout the winter.

There are still lots of colours to enjoy on my allotment this year. I expect it to go on right up until the cold and short days set in. I have an excellent mix of sweetcorn flowers and canna flowers which is looking very exotic. My maroon Morning Glory is also looking amazing, not just on my plot but also on all the plots around me as I had excess plants and could spread the love.

I must finish by mentioning the wonderful Dahlias that are all over the allotments on the Barrowell site in September, amazing colours that lift the spirit and make great cut flowers for the kitchen table; what's not to like about September.

Happy Gardening people, Chris