The spectre of potential Brexit shortages is everywhere. Rational people are considering stock piling baked beans and “Dig for Brexit” is a thing. The UK is a huge importer of fruit and veg – more than 90% of our lettuce is from overseas - so it’s no surprise that self-sufficiency is on the rise.
Written by Wesley Muchimwe | 4th October 2019
Allotments: A taste of the good life
Many of us who are already proud allotment owners must confess to visiting our plots less frequently in the winter months. Here are the top ten essential autumn jobs to ensure the veg patch is in a fit state for your crops come spring:
Wage war on weeds
Weeds are allotment enemy number one and will carry on growing forever. Don’t let them. Cut off seed heads and uproot as many perennials as you can, or throw a 8cm deep mulch over annuals to smother them out.
A compost heap doesn’t turn into crumbly brown compost without your help. Aim to turn compost heaps over once a month so that all parts spend at least some time in the middle of the pile where it gets hottest.
Turning over the soil in autumn before it freezes solid exposes insects to foraging birds and disturbs weeds. The Beast from the East may be back with little warning, so get that job done now.
Grassy paths will encroach onto bare beds, so either sink a board between the earth and grass, or dig a small 10cm deep trench between the two.
Cover bare ground
Throw an old tarpaulin, cardboard or weed control fabric over uncultivated areas. This stops weeds growing and helps prevent nutrients washing out of the soil.
If you love your winter greens, beware. If pigeons discover unprotected cabbages or cauliflowers they'll devour them in a flash. Make sure netting is taut and loose ends tucked away to avoid birds getting trapped.
Cover root crops with straw
Carrots, parsnips and Jerusalem artichokes are impossible to lift from frozen soil, so mulch them to insulate. The simplest way is to pop a tunnel cloche over your row and pack it with straw.
Wormery owners should move their containers into a shed or insulate them with bubble wrap. Worms are fairly inactive when they’re cool so just ensure they have enough moisture and food and you can pop them back outside in spring.
Seasoned allotment owners will have ordered their manure from local farmers by now. Spread it over the beds and dig it in ready to sow crops in the spring.
Sow hardy crops
If you’re confident that your bed is ready, sow plants like spring onions, broad beans, asparagus and garlic which are hardy enough to survive over the winter ready to harvest in the spring. And if you sow perpetual spinach now, you’ll have salad leaves all through the winter, whatever happens in Parliament.
Is self-sufficiency the answer to the Brexit saga? Do get in touch, we welcome your comments on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. And if you’re looking for a home to buy or to rent - with plenty of space to grow your own veg - check out all Michael Graham homes by clicking the Property search button on our website now.