October on the allotment

The temperature is dropping noticeably now and the days are feeling shorter as the sun dips lower in the sky, but there is still plenty of tidying up and clearing to do, which I love!

What’s ready?

I picked the very last of the tomatoes from the greenhouse and turned them into a tasty tomato soup, ready to eat straight away, and tomato chutney, which will be ready in about 6 weeks. The recipes can be found later at the ‘In the Kitchen’ section. I discovered a few beetroot lurking in the soil which I harvested and will store at home for later use.

Onions and tomatoes
Onions and tomatoes

Jobs to do

As mentioned in my last blog in September, I was covering up beds with plastic matting to prevent weed growth, but it’s time now to take away the covering and weed the beds.  I have also raked in the lovely composted material from the compost heap making sure to remove any unwanted weeds.

I’m keeping an eye on the brassica plants (I’m growing purple sprouting) and removing any yellow leaves as they are of no use to the plant.

Adding composted material to the beds
Raking in composted material from the compost heap
Amber admires my hard work

Talking of which, my ultimate nemesis the ‘bindweed’ has started to appear in a few beds. It is a particularly difficult weed to remove because it is so deep-rooted, so use a hand fork, not a hand trowel, to prevent cutting the roots which allows re-growth.

I’ll keep repeating this job and make my way through all the raised beds that have bindweed, to prepare them for next year.

Bindweed has started to appear
Use a hand fork to remove bindweed as it's so deep rooted

In the Kitchen

Tomato soup is a family favourite and easy to make with this simple recipe.  You can heat up the ingredients in a pan until they have all gone soft, then simply whizz them all up with a blender to produce a smooth creamy soup. My favourite, however, is to use my slow cooker to bring out the deep flavour. I sauté all ingredients first then cook on high for 4 hours.

1lb/500g tomatoes

1 carrot cut into chunks

2 sticks of celery chopped

½ pint of vegetable stock

Crème fraiche stirred in at serving to your taste

I love making chutney at this time of year, ready for Christmas, so it made sense to make a tomato chutney with the last of the crop from the greenhouse.

My recipe is to put all the ingredients into a heavy pan and simmer for about an hour. Then turn up the heat and gently boil until the liquid has almost evaporated leaving a sticky, jam-like texture that you can put into your sterilized jars (I had enough chutney for 3 x 330g jars).

1kg tomato (chopped)

500g red onion

4 garlic cloves (sliced)

1 tsp ginger

250g brown sugar

150ml red vinegar

Tomato soup is a family favourite
Making tomato chutney
Chutney is put in jars and will be stored until Christmas

Bye, bye for now!

That’s it for me for the allotment year, once the beds have been cleared of weeds and composted material has been added to enrich the soil for next year, I’m pretty much done. Winter is a hard time on my plot to do any raking or digging, as the clay soil gets easily waterlogged, which is why I try and get it all done in autumn and leave the plot alone until February or March next year.