Anne’s Patch: Fire and winter veg


Smoke is rising from allotments all across the city as the left-over bits and pieces, along with the roots of pernicious weeds that survive the heat of the compost heap, are burned, writes Anne Akers.

Most, but not all, the fruit and veg have been harvested, eaten, frozen, pickled, or donated to others and it’s clear-up time.

I’ve had more than my fair share of those indestructible weeds, with couch grass strangling my strawberries and creeping buttercups bullying my beetroot.

Leave a bit of root around and it grows into 100 new plants, it’s like a scene from the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, except without the music.

Unless everything is very dry, it’s almost impossible to just set light to a pile of weeds and other bits and pieces, so it was off to Aldi, who did the best price (£14.99) on a garden furnace, or holey bin with a funnel as I called it.

Even better than that, it was the last bin and they had two lids, so we got a spare for free.

Even with the bin, there was a great deal of smoke, which fortunately after enveloping me drifted off towards the woods.

I’m conscious that the smoke can be very annoying, so it’s always best to check who’s around before lighting up. Fortunately I was alone.

The ashes from the fire are good for the soil, so it’s the start of the foundations for next year’s crops, which are already at the planning stage.

One of the benefits of being an allotment holder is the discount on the seed catalogue you get for being part of the National Allotment Society and the discount at Leeds City Council’s Arium, which is well worth a visit, they do a cracking sausage sandwich.

Sitting in front of the wood-burner in the comfort of home, browsing the seed catalogue with a cuppa (or something stronger) in hand and Gardeners’ World on the TV is one of an allotmenteer’s great pleasures.

Seeds do keep from year to year, but it’s pennies for a new packet, and it you’re going to put all that effort in to sow and grow them, you might as well hedge your bets and go for good, new seeds. I tend to choose F1,  which are hybrids that produce better plants.

High on my list next year will be different varieties of beetroot, squash and broad beans, they grown well in the soil on my allotment and they are delicious.

I’m going to try more dwarf beans and salad leaves too, ooo it’s so exciting and will keep me dreaming of fresh green shoots during the long, dark days of winter.

The allotment isn’t empty, though. I’ve just planted purple-sprouting broccoli, kale and winter greens which just keep on giving all through the winter.

The cucamelons are still growing too, but no-one’s eating them, not even the birds…


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