An Allotment in Hungerford............

I’m pleased to say we expect to have home-grown parsnips on our Christmas dinner plates this year – the first time in 3 years (I hope I’m not speaking too soon!). All being well, we should also have cabbage and carrots too. I’ve seen a tasty looking recipe for stuffed cabbage with chestnuts, parsnips and carrots – with some bread sauce I think that would be delicious and Christmassy. We vegetarians don’t always need a nut roast to replace turkey at Christmas!

Thanks to the slow arrival of Autumn this year, we got away with some delayed plantings of squashes, carrots and mangetout. Our cabbages and beets were hastily sowed into modules and then basically abandoned for a few weeks; they dried out a few times and looked very sick when we decided to just ‘stick them in the ground’ rather than assigning them to the compost bin. Thank goodness we did – they produced delicious beetroot and the Tundra cabbages, a winter variety, are looking really healthy at the moment.

It’s been quite a difficult year, what with illness, dodgy weather and bloomin’ slugs marauding the site again. I’m sure some of the huge slugs are of the invasive Spanish variety; we’ve seen them eating unusual items like rhubarb and potato leaves. We need to make sure our site stays wildlife friendly to keep the number of these unwanted visitors down! Recently we visited Tenerife, where we enjoyed feeding the indigenous lizards with foodscraps. I wasn’t surprised to learn they are a real nuisance to Canarian farmers – imagine the difficulty in trying to protect the lovely fruit and salad veg from them. But I’ve never seen a slug in Tenerife – Spanish or otherwise!

We used a nematode product, ‘Nemaslug’ to protect some of our potatoes from slug infestation this year. Nematodes are tiny organisms (microscopic – a typical handful of soil contains thousands) which can be parasitic. It certainly seemed to work for our two rows of Desiree, which grew gigantic and made fabulous mash – one potato providing ample servings for the two of us!

We’re not expecting a cold winter (as I write), but a few sharp frosts would be useful to kill off some of the pests which have survived since last winter and can also add flavour to our winter veggies. I don’t think it’s a fallacy – certain vegetables increase the sugars and other substances in their cells when the temperatures drop; the sugar solution acts like anti-freeze and makes the vegetables taste even better. So a cold winter is welcome on the allotment site – especially if we’ve caught up with all the jobs we should have completed in Autumn and don’t have to go out much!

Merry Christmas!

If you fancy the idea of growing your own contact HAHA on 0754 118 7274
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