The Giant Autumn Leaderboard

Okay, so it’s got to THAT time in the year. The allotment is far from over for the winter, there are several crops still growing and a couple of new ones still under the ground for next year. But it’s definitely a good time to take stock, so I’ve decided to go through every crop…

The Leeks of Doom

At first I didn’t realise there was anything wrong. I mean – look at this – looks fine, yeah? Okay, so it wasn’t going to win any prizes but it looked at least supper-worthy. Looks can deceive, however. I started noticing strange, wiggly-looking leaves┬ábut still I wasn’t too worried. Then it came to teatime this…

Christmas at Kew

Thought I’d take a little time out from my giant autumn roundup to visit the Royal Botanic gardens at Kew for their annual Christmas Festival of lights… It’s a combination of imaginative lighting through the trees, illuminating the elegant garden buildings and strange installations. This year is curious because many leaves on deciduous trees are…

Giant Autumn Roundup: Quince

One of the big surprises of my year was the sudden fruiting of my Meeches Prolific quince after 14 years of nothing. Whether it’s finally drilled down to some water on the hill of doom, whether it’s finally found a pollination partner or whether it’s just decided to stop sulking and grow up, I got…

Giant Autumn Roundup: Currants

A game of two halves. First the good news. The white currants ‘Blanka’ were stupendous. I had such an enormous crop of berries so sweet I ate them straight, not cooked, that they overtook me. At a time when work was particularly busy, to my shame I just didn’t have time to turn them into…

The Giant Autumn Roundup: Celery

Well. My trench celery experiment wasn’t a complete disaster, but nor was ‘Peppermint Stick‘ the pastel, candy-cane, boudoir-beauty I’d hoped for. I blanched the stalks by tying sheets from the gardening section of the Telegraph and the London Review of Books. Both seemed to work okay, but I’d use more sheets round each plant another…

Giant Autumn Roundup: Rhubarb

It’s been a great year for rhubarb. At last, after raising the beds and mulching with ludicrous amounts of manure over the last four years, the plants are growing strongly and cropping very well. They are all Timperley Early -hardly an exotic choice but one that’s solid, tastes good and grows well on my soil….

Giant Autumn Roundup- Summer Spuds

It’s been a long time – and a whole other allotment plot – since I grew large amounts of potatoes. Frankly, they’re cheap enough to buy so I only grow a few – International Kidney AKA Jersey Royal when sold commercially from the Channel Islands, and Charlotte, for old times’ sake. It was a weird…

Giant Autumn Roundup: Blackcurrants

An excellent year. The blackcurrants enjoyed the thick manure mulch they received last autumn, washed around their roots by gallons of rain through the following six-odd months. They also grew unencumbered by the usual bindweed and horsetail as they now have planks forming a small raised bed around them, which have been kept scrupulously weeded….

Giant Autumn Roundup: Pumpkins

After a large, successful but monotonously blue crop of Crown Prince in 2015, I decided to go colourful this year. I loved Crown Prince, but I wanted some oranges and browns too, so I spent some time researching the tastiest heritage varieties around. The results are good, but not heavy. I’m not really sure why,…

Giant Autumn Roundup: Sweetcorn

I have one word to describe this year’s crop: Disaster. Perhaps I should have sensed it the moment I tweeted my excitement that I’d found the ‘Ruby Queen’ James Wong had recommended and he had the decency to tell me that it was not Ruby Queen and I’d been sold a pup. I spent ages…

Giant Autumn Roundup: Garlic

An interesting year, 2016. The cloves I planted back in September 2015 were from my own harvest and did very well indeed. They grew strongly and I got an excellent crop. I also, as an experiment, grew some that had sprouted late in the spring, which grew into large single bulbs, since they did not…