One man and his organic plot - enjoy the last of the autumn colour

As the daylight hours diminish and the colder weather sets in, the available time that there is to spend on the allotment becomes less and less. I’m now squeezing in an hour here and there, but still managing to get my fix.
Randbow chard plant
Chris Collins is making the most of late-season veg at his allotment

The amazing thing is, I’m still cropping food from my allotment and as autumn moves to its end, I’m taking home all those wonderfully colourful edibles such as pumpkin and squash. I’ve even taken out a bumper crop of parsnips. This is usually an edible I struggle to grow on my plot, but this year I've really come up trumps. Lucky really, as it's one of my favourite root vegetables and will be roasted and coated with honey in my Sunday roasts over the next few weeks.

My quick crops of salad leaves, spinach, chard and rocket are all still producing and as the London weather is so mild, I’ll try and sneak in a final sowing to go along with the winter brassicas and green manures which have all been sown.

With less work to do, I now have to use all my willpower not to start digging over my plot. I loved double digging in my younger years, in fact, I couldn’t get enough of it, but my awareness of the soil ecosystem and the importance of soil structure means I now know that there is a wonderful world of soil life that is far better off looking after the needs of the soil than I am; so I’ll help them along with some compost in the spring, protect them over winter with some green manures and look back at my double digging days with some good old nostalgia.

I should also point out that by practicing no-dig I won’t be spreading the dreaded horsetail even further throughout my plot, so a win-win at the end of the day.

As always, I’ll be doing some structural work on the plot as now and over the winter is the perfect time to make changes. New posts and wires will be erected to support my raspberry canes enabling me to fan them out of the stems, allow air around the plants and make training new canes much easier. It's then just a case of protecting all that lovely fruit from the numerous parrakeets that now occupy the three canopies of north London, not an easy job and they also seem to have taken a liking to the apples this year - still I never seem to be short of a crop from the allotment, so I won’t resent them too much.

The fresh autumn days are a great time to be pottering around the allotment and the colours this year are still very much in evidence. So, make sure you get out and enjoy them whilst they are still around and, in the meantime, happy gardening!

Chris Collins