So, it is nearly autumn now, and the rain season has begun in Edinburgh. After my parents tidied up the allotment with me, it is now time to bring in the final harvest and prepare the plot for winter. As a nice finish to my first gardening year, I went to the 54th Annual Flower and Vegetable Show in Edinburgh.
Our Ferry Road Site even won a first price – mainly because we were the only ones entering in that category of cross allotment site vegetables. It was quite a nice, amusing community event and good fun. For the kids, there were categories like vegetable monster, miniture gardens in seed trays, nicest decorated biscuit and statues out of receycled material.
The next day I went to my first organic gardening workshop, about composting, seed saving and green manure.
The City of Edinburgh initiates the workshop together with an organic gardening consultant from Jedburgh. I never really thought that people could have problems with composting – it always seemed to me to be the easiest thing in the world. Maybe I have learned more than I realised at my parents about sustainability and environmental issues, though they never really made a big thing out of it. We always saved rainwater in about 3 big barrels for the garden, we always composted and we have a well insulated house, we even have a solar panel on the roof and we always grew veggies and fruits and my mum worked the whole summer incorporating them into the daily diet, freezing or making jam or juice out of these.
The wine-making never took off, though we witnessed some unsuccessfull attempts.
Oh, and we always receycled and cycled around the city, we always use glas bottles to buy our locally produced mineral water and beer in. And my parents are – or were – delighted skippers. Not that they skipped in the usual anarcho way, nonono, they skipped more in a conservative way, if that’s possible. In the past there were specific dates, about 2-3 times a year, when furniture, electrics and other bigger utilities were collected by the councils as rubbish, it was free collection for every citizen and my parents and other people just used to go out and look what people throw away… a kind of mixture between curiousity and gossip creation in our little part of town – and usually they would come back packed with stuff they just thought was “a crime to throw away”. However, in the 90ies, they were rivalled by people from Poland and the Czech Republic coming over to refurbish themselves, and so my parents graciously left it to them, as they pretty much know that they don’t have any space for it. However, we got two bicycles from the last one which was ever organised, they just had flat tyres and the lights didn’t work. They got repaired pretty quickly and when I am back in Germany I still cycle on one of them, whilst the other one was providing spare parts for years.
It was always funny in the way that somebody might have wanted a chair or something and then found one, so tried to take it home, but on the way would see another one and then leave it to take the better one. So it was a big furniture exchange, and the stuff put out in the evening could be totally different the next morning for the collection.
So, the council stopped it and now gives out vouchers, people have to book individually to get their bigger furniture collected now. Probably because too much furniture was thrown away and they could not collect it all in one day anymore, maybe because they always had a problem with the electrical items such as fridges and washing machines with moving them.
Actually back to the garden; the final harvest is due. I have already finished the courgettes, but will leave the pumpkins till end of October for Halloween, they are quite small though. I wonder if I should try with some fertiliser, but am not sure if its worth it. The cucumbers are still in production, but the tomatoes are getting more and more mouldy, so I took them down and will try to let them ripen on the windowsill. I’ll have to throw the plants away or burn them, as they are infested with a virus I don’t want to compost them. The potatoes are also getting brown, I should also harvest them, but am waiting for myself to have started on eating them. The kohlrabi are still little, hopefully every kohlrabi manages to grow big enough to be eaten till the winter arrives. I have planted them quite late, as had trouble with getting the seed beds prepared, as it was quite a chaos when I started off in spring. I started with seed saving some of the cucumber seeds, and will try if the way I go about it works. I should have collected some courgette seeds as they were quite big, but I gave the last ones away to neighbours, I like it very much when I can give good home-grown veggies and fruits to neighbours and friends and collegues.
Anyways, the green manure seeds are only available from the organic gardening catalogue. Green manure is good to cover the earth over winter and to leave it exposed to kill off pests, it also inhibits weeds growing and some of them bind nitrogen from the air and can be used as natural fertiliser the next year. I am quite curious as have never tried it before.
I am considering becoming a member of the Heritage Seed Library, an initiative which tries to preserve older, unknown, historical vegetables from extinction. It is Â£15 a year though.
So, this year, it seemed that the courgettes worked really well, as did the spinach,
One of the gooseberry died, and the red currant bush was cropping well, but I wonder how well it will cropp next year and the years after, now that it has been seperated into about 6 different bushes. The black currant has also been seperated, it did not crop well this year, but my father freed its roots from all the weeds which were interwoven with it.
Maybe this will help for next year. The potatoes seemed to do well according to their green plant growth, not sure what’ll happen when harvested, if it is a good storing variety and how it will taste. The onions were a bit disappointing, I hoped they would grow bigger, the carrots were disappointing, too. But maybe because I wasn’t properly caring for them over the summer, most of them were still edible.
The radishes have grown extraordinarily big, but there were just too many at once, most of the salad plants died because when it was so hot I should have watered these plants every day. The potatoes were quite uncomplicated, and the cucumbers were astonishing in that the first plants died, the second batch did very well and produced quite a lot of big vegetables. The corn totally died except for one, and the tomatoes all got mould on it, because when it was rainy the plants weren’t covered. The raspberries have grown tremendously quickly and no problem apart from rigorous growth with the rhubarb either.
I haven’t really been able to pick all the fruits this summer, and there was too much rhubarb. Next year I will get rid of at least one rhubarb, and will try to plant some little apple and cherry trees. Most of the vegetables need to be in the earth much earlier than this year, by april/may, otherwise it might be too late. And next year I will plant the seed in rows and mark them so I can weed accordingly.
I also might make a try with the herb spiral and so on, and properly label the plants, so I don’t get confused like this year in what is a seedling and what is a weedling. Anyways, I hope it can only get better with the allotment. I just wonder if I can keep up with the time demands.