Plotholders prepare for the winter

Alan's chrysanths
Alan's chrysanths

You can tell the growing season is over when Berryfield plotholders’ two favourite TV programmes – ‘Gardener’s World’ and ‘Beechgrove Garden’ – come to an end.

But that doesn’t mean work stops at Berryfield. Now that weeds are dying off and rotting down in the cool damp weather it’s easier to clear them away and lift out the roots. Chasing couch grass and horsetail roots back to their source is important, as any pieces of root left in the ground will spring back into life. A number of plots are infested with chickweed from horse manure – this too needs to be lifted and the fine spreading roots cleared.

All over the site a year’s-worth of compost is being cleared out of the bin and bagged up, if not spread immediately on hungry soil, and where a multiple bin system is used younger compost is transferred to the next bin.

Greenhouses are being cleared and cleaned and in the covered growing areas fruit bushes such as blackcurrants are having the old wood pruned back to ground level to allow new berry-bearing growth to start. Already some bushes have next year’s buds.

And not everything is dying off. Plotholders are still gathering squashes, cabbages (at least those not eaten by slugs) and lifting tatties.

All over the site there are rows of winter vegetables which will sit quite happily through the ‘dark months’. Curly kale, black kale, Savoy cabbages, neeps, and parsnips are all ready for whatever winter throws at them. In fact parsnips taste sweeter after a good hard frost.

Although the temperatures have dropped, the Indian summer continuing through October means that flowers planted by plotholders are still blooming. Peter cleared and planted the wayleave in the summer, and those flowers still look very healthy, and Alan’s chrysanthemums are splendid in the bright low sunshine.