Winding down for Winter

This afternoon I ambled down to the allotment to make a start on autumn jobs. It’s always the part of the year I dislike most as harvesting is slowing, the weather changing and the nights draw in.

In the greenhouse, Pop and Leia were busy scratching for food they had thrown all over the floor. I collected an egg and cleaned the floor and Leia’s favourite perching place on top of the nest box. Happily, I still had a couple of courgettes left and I cut up half of one and gave it to Pop. Weirdly, she didn’t seem particularly interested. I left to make a start on today’s jobs.

Firstly, I needed to remove the dead sunflower that capsized a couple of weeks ago. It had pretty much ripped itself out of the soil so removing it was easy and I lobbed it onto the compost pile. I was pleased that the two remaining sunflowers were still going. The smaller one seems to have enjoyed the recent weather and has burst back into life with several new buds and flowers!

Next, I made a start on clearing the weeds from the back section of the plot. This area is the most waterlogged on the plot and I seized the opportunity of it being dry to get rid of the weeds. Moving up, I weeded another section and made a half hearted effort in the section next to the pond.

My husband appeared shortly after my enthusiasm for weeding had abated and we dashed off to pick up supplies for the chickens. Over the past few weeks, getting hold of antimite fluid has been difficult and I spotted a bottle at the proper price next to the eye-wateringly expensive one (£19.99 for the same volume of fluid!). Whilst other people may panic buy loo roll or hand sanitiser during the COVID19 lockdown, we choose to stock up on coop cleaning supplies! For good measure, I also managed to get hold of an enormous tube of diatumous earth. Over the weekend, I will clean out the coop again and dust the chickens to ensure the final and complete decimation of the mites.

Judging by the enthusiasm we were greeted with when we topped up the food bowl in the main coop with a little mixed corn, the girls had missed it! I collected two eggs from the nest box and threw out some sunflower seeds. I refilled the other food bowl for Leia and Pop and headed back up to the greenhouse. Leia immediately tucked in but Pop was far too busy with the previously rejected courgette.

We closed up the greenhouse and headed home for dinner. Each season has its own feel and rhythms. Autumn is the time where the site begins to look increasingly bare and the numbers of people on site decrease. During these weeks, everyone is busy weeding, removing old plants and digging over their plots for winter. In previous years, we haven’t managed to dig over the entire plot as the autumnal storms and endless flooding of the plot have prevented it. But there is always another year to improve.

My plans for next season are beginning to develop. In particular, I want to upgrade the shed and improve the chicken coop by raising the nest box onto slabs. I also need to find a solution to the need for a separate small coop suitable for Leia and Pop. They will over winter in the greenhouse which will be safe and warm. However, Pop still isn’t able, as yet, to climb up and down ramps making the broody coop unsuitable. I have a couple of ideas although these all depend on budget and space constraints.

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