October 2003


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Wednesday October 8th

Went up to the allotment, picked some raspberries, carrots, beans and eight tiny custard marrows which I ate for tea. Also some of the beetroot. Wow.

Monday October 13th

Reading the seed catalogues, saw an odd word referring to sweetcorn and thought perhaps that might account for the cob I found with the giant black swollen kernel. Looked it up and sure enough, that last cob had got common smut. Fungal disease which likes hot conditions and persists for up to 5 years in the soil. Bummer. Dunno what I did with the cob. Least my rotation won't return to the current patch for some years! Will warn others to look for similar symptoms. Transmission seems to be via spore splashes from the soil to tips of germinating plants, so raising them in modules should also help prevent it, as should the normal freezing cold British summer!

Wednesday October 15th

Popped up to the allotment to have another look and picked two more custard marrows, one quite large, another handful of runners, some carrots and a cabbage. Not bad for mid-October. Found the discarded smutty corn on the cob, on the next patch down by the quince. So that's out for the duration too, and it's in the next rotation group, but isn't planned to have corn on.  I reckon 9 years for the next time I'll need to grow on the possibly infected patches, with my 4-bed-3-year rotation, allowing for three to be quarantined.

Thursday October 16th

Decided to pay a visit to the local watercooler people and see if they had any cracked water bottles.  The lady there was very helpful but still has to ask management about it, so I must phone tomorrow.

Friday October 17th

Phoned water folk as requested and it isn't a problem - did I want 20? Yikes. Dropped in on way home and filled car with 15, which was about the limit without having them floating about too much. They are very heavy duty plastic and they were a bit doubtful how I was going to get the bases off. I wasn't. Have power tools…

Saturday October 18th

It took all of half an hour to saw off eleven of the bottle bases, with the power drill to do the initial hole and the jigsaw to do the cutting. They came off so neatly that the bases will now get used as plant saucers or even party plates (after a bit of sanding). I now have lots of very large bell cloches for free :-)

Sunday October 19th

Went to autumn festival at Kew. Not as sunny as earlier, but had a lovely afternoon wandering about the place, being very glad of two fleeces! Fed some ducks, saw lots of oak trees and got an idea of my apple variety. The chap thought it was a Ribston Pippin, but I'm not convinced since the display ones of that variety were totally different in colouring. Also on later checking, I found itīs a triploid like the Bramley, and since mineīs one of the pollinators for my own Bramley, it canīt be a triploid. Oh well. I need to try again next year in any case, when I've got the stepover back upto fruiting. Nice day out - may well go back for the selling of the squashes in two weeks.

Monday October 20th

Sunny evening so left work reasonably on time and got to the allotment about 5.20pm. Watered the very sad leeks, and then got down to planting the first two trays of onions. Have planted them about 6" apart, and watered them both when planting and afterwards. Here's hoping they get established. Vincent appeared and gave me more tomatoes - incredible for October - and I picked a tiny Table Dainty which was trying to grow. Left the butternut under its cloche - though I suspect that after tonight it won't be doing much. Frost forecast. But then again, inside the cloche it may be just above freezing. Picked more carrots and went Bramley hunting. Eight large ones later (and some fun trying to hook the branches to within reach!) I ran out of light and had to go home. 6.20pm. Just an hour, which means that after next weekend there'll be no chance unless I take half days.

Tuesday October 21st

Frost arrived. 0oC outside the back door, a frosted car and a cold nose. The frame stayed above freezing so I hope the cloche at the allotment would also have done so. Glad I have my little sensors dotted about the place!

Wednesday October 22nd

Got to freezing again - but then got some totally unforecast rain and so was 3oC by getting-up time. It persisted all day, quite heavily, and I got home to two very full waterbutts. With any luck the allotment will be a lot better looking soon!




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