October, my favourite month of all! I had been excited for my first October at the allotment for a few reasons – I knew it was going to wear the golden leaves of Autumn very well and for the Spring bulb planting to start! There were plums on the fruit trees perfect for cake and the last Nasturtium seeds were harvested. By the end of September most of the annuals on my plot were at the end of their life and looking tired, and I was definitely feeling ready to start the clearing for a fresh restart. Like clockwork, first week of October brought with it a cold enough evening to reduce the Dahlias to a pile of slush bringing Dahlia season to an end in one swoop! So the lifting of the tubers began. To store them for winter I lift them from the ground by pulling the stem and gently digging them up then cutting off all the foliage. It’s important to then remove as much of the soil as possible before packing them away individually in paper bags or wrapped in newspaper. I store mines away in the loft but anywhere cool and frost free will do! Lay them out flat to fully dry before stashing too as this prevents any rot.
The annual beds were next for clearing, first up the Cosmos! These beauties served me so well this year and I’m already excited about the variates I’ve picked for next Summer, but they were frosted at the edges ready for removing so up they came. They were absolutely huge with stems like tree trunks so removing them was a task taking up a whole afternoon! But the sight of a clear bed revealing beautiful compost below was a lovely one and got me excited for the Tulips that will fill the space next! The rest of the annuals followed and before I knew it I had a compost heap mountain and a flowerless plot like a freshly wiped slate! I gathered pockets full of seeds as I worked along the plot and have more Nasturtium and Calendula seeds in particular than one person could ever need. Such an exciting growing cycle and I can’t wait to nurture these beauties as I did their parents!
I decided to move all of my perennials to the long bed at the bottom of my plot to keep them in one place, so I decanted the Astilbe from some pots, moved the rest of them to their new home and planted out some foxglove and teasel seedlings in between. I then began hardening off all the biannuals that I had grown from seed in the polytunnel and started planting them into the freshly prepared beds! There’s now a whole bed of Sweet Williams were the Dahlias were, Hollyhocks and Foxgloves filling the space which had been full of Cornflowers and Phlox, and Teasels dotted around in every little space I had going! Then the bulb planting started and I have still not stopped!
First up I started with my Ranunculus and Anemone corms, soaking them to wake them up then planting them in seed trays to pre sprout them. It was only a matter of days until their tiny little shoots of hope were peeking through the soil! They are now looking very happy and are tucked away in the polytunnel where I’ll pot them on into bigger planters and will over winter them away safely from the danger of frost. I then filled pots upon pots of Muscari and beds and planters will Alliums of all shapes and sizes! I’ll hold off until mid November for the tulips then my month long bulb planting craze will be complete! I’m already looking ahead to those first little green shoots of Spring!
One of the most exciting things about October at the allotment was of course the arrival of my new greenhouse! My lovely husband worked away at making a wooden base for it and done an excellent job! We assembled it like a giant jigsaw and although I am yet to replace a few of the glass panels, I’m so delighted with it and can’t wait to fill it with goodness!! We moved my potting table over and sacrificed part of a bed to squeeze it into my little plot but it fits like a glove! It’s not quite finished yet with me still needing to get the inside organised and looking lovely so I’m going to hold off showing it until next month when there won’t be as much going on at the plot anyway! This month we also made some planters with old scrap wood that was lying around by simply screwing it together, making a base and drilling some drainage holes in it which I have earmarked for Ranunculus and Tulips and am very excited to fill!
It’s safe to say it’s been a very busy month on the plot and it’s not looking likely to slow down anytime soon, regardless of it now being winter! The next job will be getting the greenhouse finished by fitting the replacement glass, getting some staging for it and organising the inside. Hours of pottering lie ahead!! I then have all my Tulips to plant, and have all my overwintering seedings and plants to look after too! I’m thoroughly enjoying getting all wrapped up for a day at the allotment, armed with my stove for endless pots of tea on the job to make the most of every single second of daylight!