Tales from the plot December

The year is now coming to an end, and I have to say for me it’s been a good year. There have been a few disappointments but I’m not going to dwell on those.
My potato harvest was one of the best I’ve ever had and both runner beans and French beans were also good – now all in the freezer – as is a great crop of sweetcorn and cauliflower. Sweetcorn freezes amazingly well but we’ve never had great success in freezing cauliflower. We now prepare and make into tubs of cauliflower cheese: freezing it like that seems to be the way forward. 
There’s still plenty to harvest. My leeks, after being attacked then being cut down to almost ground level, have recovered remarkably well; and my parsnips, carrots and hardy cabbage are all looking good – plus I still have a few tubs of potatoes that I’ve covered to protect from frost – so the allotment is still being productive and there’s still plenty of work to be done.
It’s the last chance to clear any weeds from this year. I try my hardest to start with a clean slate, keeping the current year’s weeds under control is enough of a job without having to deal with last year’s! One thing you can plant at this time is garlic, it was always thought to plant garlic on the shortest day and harvest on the longest day but I get on better by planting around the end of October. 
Now is a great time to prepare the soil for next year. A fellow plot holder came to me last month and was concerned that his plot had not been as productive as he felt it should’ve been, he explained that everything he had planted had not flourished or as he felt, not done well.
I asked him when was the last time he had any manure added to his plot – I explained that the allotments have been on this site for in excess of 120 years and you can’t keep taking out without putting something back, plants need food to flourish. 
One easily accessible plant food which I use is called comfrey, pictured above, a remarkable plant that I could bore you all to tears by going on about its benefits (of which there are many). If you’re a gardener just harvest it by cutting off at ground level – this amazing plant will still grow and flourish after such treatment – put the stems and leaves in a bucket with holes in the bottom, stand this bucket in another complete bucket with a tap on the bottom and put weight on top of the leaves, now you’ve made a comfrey press. I press comfrey throughout the year decanting into a large 45 gallon drum which I also hang a net of manure inside giving me enough plant food without any expense. I use about half a litre to a watering can full of water once a week. Incidentally I’m told you can also do the same with stinging nettles, but I’ll stick to the comfrey as rather large gloves are necessary for the stinging nettles LOL!
Christmas dinner sadly this year will not include one vital vegetable from my plot, for some reason my brussels just haven’t done well. I’m really disappointed as they’re one of my favourite vegetables but what’s worse is I don’t really know why – but hey ho you can’t win them all.
Remember that by the end of this month the shortest day will be gone and we have lots to look forward to, of course the most important thing is to have a great Christmas and New Year.  
Richard Thorpe plot 15 B