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Growing pains: Cabbages, weeds and heavy weather

PUBLISHED: 13:04 14 October 2010 | UPDATED: 17:57 20 February 2013

Growing pains: Cabbages, weeds and heavy weather

Growing pains: Cabbages, weeds and heavy weather

More on the highs and lows of allotment gardening from Jayne Lindill

More on the highs and lows of allotment gardening from Jayne Lindill

I have new neighbours. Theyre a couple of lovely ladies with bags of enthusiasm and ambitious plans for their plot. They were admiring my efforts the other day which are not entirely my own, I admit and actually asked me for advice. I was instantly chuffed. Suddenly, after three years could be that Ive become an old hand?
We talked about the hours of enjoyment not to mention blisters and backache that are to be had from growing your own and I felt an immense sense of satisfaction as I cut two cabbages and handed them over to the new girls. Sharing thats what it's all about.
Autumn is a strange time on the allotment.
I always feel as though Im in a kind of limbo the summer vegetables have been harvested and mostly eaten, the runner bean canes come down to be stored for another few months and once the last autumn mowing of the grassy paths has been done it seems as if everything goes into hibernation.
Er, except the weeds. I dont know what happened, but one minute the plot was looking neat and tidy, then it rained a bit . . . and a bit more . . . and suddenly there were weeds everywhere.
Autumn rain is vital so Im not complaining, but it makes winter digging much harder work, if not impossible with heavy soil. It has to be done, however, so my policy for avoiding a sore back is not to overdo it. Dont dig for more than half an hour at a stretch, take frequent breaks to stand up and straighten your back and make sure you have the right tools. I find I can do more with a smaller, lighter spade. Oh, and make sure you go home to a hot bath.
So with summer over and winter on the horizon what is there to look forward to?
Well, my parsnips have been pretty successful, I have a promising crop of Brussels sprouts, the leeks are coming along nicely and I still have red and white cabbages to harvest. I also have a good stock of potatoes and carrots.
So, with 66 days to go until Christmas, that just leaves me with the turkey to order.


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