Saturday brought a bright but oh so cold and windy day. A day that chills you.
The temperature noticeably dropped after a week of grey cloud or fog that had kept me indoors or at best hadn’t tempted me outside much. A low grey sky is like something that sits on your shoulders, a heavy weight that won’t fall away. Not quite the Albatross of the Ancient Mariner, but a weight none the less.
It took a change in the weather pattern to give me sunshine and a spring in my step.
Theres a more relaxed pace to gardening in Autumn, the rush of summer planting and picking, watering and weeding is over. Time to linger a little. Well as long as you are wrapped up well for the job – a beanie, scarf and long wooly socks are essentials. Those and a flask of tea!
Autumn brings clearing up jobs, preparing for Winter and Spring. It’s a time to look around you and ponder on what you will do next year. With my flask of tea at the ready, and maybe some ginger nut biscuits I’m equipped to day dream. Saturday gave me time to sit and ponder, to sip my tea, to much on a biscuit and notice the details.
The allotment will never be a pristine showpiece, with manicured paths and edges or smartly laid out beds. But this time of year gives me a chance to create a bit of order, to clear the weeds before the real wet of winter kicks in, to tidy up the canes and netting. empty compost onto beds, let’s call it a pre-spring clean up.
My temperate climate has it’s positives and negatives, on the one hand it means that there is still plenty that will grow over winter – there is chard, leeks, kales, broccoli, pak choys and some hardy salads. The flip side of the picture is that slugs and snails and their eggs can survive well over winter, especially if they have some cover, only to return in Spring to munch on my delicate seedlings.
I try to find a balance between clearing and planting – leaving some dried seedheads and stalks for beneficial creatures to over-winter is essential, I’ve learnt not to cover my soil (as I did last year prior to going to France for the winter) with weed suppressant as it provides the perfect sheltered spot for slugs and snails.
I’m a titivator – I don’t practice the art of double digging, as many generations of gardeners have done, I titivate the soil to ease out the weeds, and hopefully any frost we get will help kill off the nasties and leave the worms alone to work their wonders.
The window that Autumn gives us gardeners is closing, I need to get the compost trenched and the broad beans and garlic sown before the wet of winter arrives for when I can no longer walk on the soil – I risk tramping the heavy clay down, besides adding several inches to my height with soil attached to my wellies isn’t a great look.