Autumn Tidy

Late morning, I ambled down to the allotment to feed the chickens. Happily, the weather was dry and there even was a hint of sunshine. Upon arrival, I found Phil in the Clubhouse. It turns out Steve has done a big clear out of the clubhouse, taking out the chairs and carpet.

I walked across to say hello to Cliff but instead, I found Koko sitting inside his shed. I stopped to give her a stroke and to shake paws. Koko really is such an adorable dog! With no Cliff, or anyone else in sight, I walked down to the main coop and fed the chickens. Tommy was strutting around the coop, his iridescent green tail feathers catching the autumn sunshine. He really is stunning to look at, it’s just a shame he is a complete wimp. The other girls pick on him even though he is double their size! Aggie had a good peck or two at my leg but decided not to go for a third which she knew would get her into trouble!

Up in the greenhouse, Leia and Lilja were waiting impatiently for their food. I cleaned out the water and refilled their food bowl. I put a handful of food up on the shelf so Lilja could eat without risking Leia’s wrath. She even ate some kale from my hand which was exciting. It looks like with a bit more work, she will be lovely and friendly.

Procrastination is a key component of allotment life and I decided to go and find Cliff for a chat. We caught up with all the news and walked over to Chris’s plot by the top of Henry Street. Apparently, his ancient and enormous shed roof is leaking badly. Bill and Cliff had kindly offered to patch it up although the angle of the roof made it difficult. Hopefully their repair will keep the shed going for a bit longer.

Pottering back to my plot, I saw how many plots had been fully bedded down for the winter. Bedding down includes digging the soil over, removing old plants, pruning trees and bushes and general sorting of sheds and greenhouses. I grabbed a fork and dug over three beds. Fortunately, the soil isn’t too waterlogged yet so it was quite a quick job. I chose to dig over the least weedy beds as the weedy ones would need clearing first before digging over.

Taking a break, I checked on the pond. The pump had become clogged so I washed out the fountain top and replaced it. Immediately, it began to work properly. Looking down, I saw lots of willow leaves had fallen into the water. Several minutes later, I had freezing cold hands but the pond was clear of old leaves and the dreaded stringy green weed which suffocates everything if left to grow.

Still avoiding anymore digging, I decided to get the secateurs and trim the willow screen. Now that the weather has turned, it’s an ideal time to trim it into shape. It was quite a quick job and I am pleased with its size and shape. Next season, I will try to keep it the same size but encourage it to thicken a bit. On a roll with the secateurs, I began to sort out the willow arch. The arch had half collapsed and leant over the path between us and Phil. It took about half an hour, but I managed to trim the top to a good height and tidied up both the front and back. The middle above the arch was needed a different approach. Despite growing well this summer, it has only just grown enough to overlap to make the arch. I used twine to tie the branches together and then using more twine and some bamboo poles, pulled the arch into the right position. These lines may need tightening intermittently over the winter but it should ensure the arch grows upright.

Before I left, I dug over one last bed, nearest the shed. I had got most of the way through it before the heavens opened and I beat a hasty retreat home, now looking more like a drowned rat than anything else!

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