Thursday, 23 November 2017

Autumn allotment

Yellow dahlias on the allotment

Down the allotment with a bag and a spade for the last not slug munched spuds and an armful of corn that escaped the trampling snuffling humbug of Brock's paws. Still traffic murmured autumn air that lulls you into winding down for the season and yet there is much to be done amongst the dahlias and the compost heap. In the corner of the site, a man all grey trousered and narly jumpered prods a leaf pile with a fork like he expects a viper to slither out and a cough of a mutter escapes. 

Mould-green bog stenching leaf litter slides off the side. 'ya bugger'

Out comes the toffees from rat's nest stuffed pockets and on goes the shed kettle.
Pink dahlias
Black grapes in a greenhouse

Greenhouse hiding plot holders tend to unripe tomatoes or cascading grapes on autumn coloured turning vines, twisting and tendrilling suspiciously across to the box of Growmore and the chicken manure. Next year it's world domination.

A snip and a gather, green tomatoes will ripen in a brown bag and perhaps taste nice fried or in a chutney. And back outside in a huge clump, some kale, the bitter green leviathan of the plot, with sprawling tentacles to last the winter through. Some to take home for Dad's chickenosauruses, ferocious things that peck your wellied feet and pluck each others feathers. 
Standing, summing up, pondering. Bonfire heaps and forgotten watering cans. The last chance to harvest any squashes before the frost hits them. A time for making plans for the next gardening year.....there is always next year. New veggies to grow or fruit trees to buy and seed catalogues to order for afternoons by the fire dreaming of next year's cutting garden and bountiful beans of all varieties, striped and spotted pods, popping into soups for months and months.
Allotment plot

Before the late autumn set in, the plot was swarming with scarecrows, the young and the old crafting sock-faced granny dressed hat wearing guardians that can not even frighten a sparrow let alone a corvid. I have seen crows mocking with a chucking caw as they sit aloft an old straw hatted wurzel 'Come see, come see oh raven and rook, a mermaid to keep us away and over there, caw-caw, a stuffed French man. And my doesn't this sweetcorn taste good'.
Mermaid scarecrow

Creamy dahlias

French scarecrow

Sweetcorn on the allotment
Whilst I wandered, amused and inspired, amongst the rows of brown sugar dipped dahlias and the burnt out sunflower heads, I heard a cheery 'hello' to my Dad. Another plot holder has arrived, on her bicycle, helmet off and camera quickly out from her rucksack. Here to photograph the haunting abundance yet decay of late autumn, just as I am. Completely normal to me, bemusing to my Dad who carries on digging for spuds and then shuffling along the path for some apples whilst propping netting back up and flapping at a crow.

A few more snaps by the patch of gone midnight-pumpkins that sprawl in drunken disorder, mildew setting in on bristly leaves, powdered end of year dust. No glass slippers just the season algae tainted glasshouses, ready for cleaning for spring. And their occupants, still pottering away, hiding out with mugs of tea and having a break from compost snake charming.
orange dahlias

Pumpkin patch
sunflower head
yellow daisy flowers
And now home down the grassy path, waving goodbye, bags full of those earthy potatoes for mashing with salted butter, a few late borlotti beans, add some herbs, maybe roast some pumpkin and a glug of gravy. Place some vegetable into the store shed to last over the cold months when there is little to harvest aside from winter greens and especially that perfect Christmas Brussels sprout.
sweetcorn tassels
Autumn allotment


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