September 2012 Allotment Diary

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“However Amma says that nature is still in a very agitated state, and this is mainly because human minds are full of hatred, anger and revenge and that reflects in nature. The hatred and anger within us is a more powerful atom bomb than the external atom bomb. Maybe we can control the external atom bomb to a certain degree, but the internal atom bomb that each one of us is carrying in the form of hatred, anger and revenge is difficult to remove. Amma can still see dark clouds hanging in nature – only the cool gentle breeze of grace can lift this darkness. We should all pray for that.”

Amma’s words, from “A Meeting with Love- by Margaret Evan, Nova Magazine – Australia’s Holistic Journal”

Praying for World Peace

Just like in the interview above, Amma is always telling us how Nature is agitated, and that we should prayer for God’s love to cool the dark clouds of anger, hatred and revenge that are everywhere. This year the weather has definitely felt agitated. We have been able to see it very clearly on the allotment, how this agitation can cause so many problems in just one area – food production. It has also shown us how dependent we are on the earth for everything. We in the western world on the whole do not expect to be ruled by the weather. When crop failures result in bad harvests and famine, it is always in a distant country. At the worst the weather seems to us to be inconvenient. It seems to us however, that if we had several years like this year with so much chaotic weather, and we wouldn’t just be looking at food prices going up, but we would be looking at food shortages all over the world. Let us all pray, as Amma tells us, for peace in the world, and that everyone will receive whatever they need. And, as Amma also tells us, let us all take the plight of our fellow human being much more seriously, because we are all ultimately in the same boat.

The Changing Seasons

As the year turns, so the natural world responds. Some of our summer visiting birds such as swifts have already mostly left (although 3 flew over our house the other day). As the summer visitors leave, other visitors arrive, from West and Central Europe, from Scandinavia and the Arctic. They come for our relatively mild winters. We have literally millions of ducks, geese, swans, waders and small birds coming here every winter. How do they find their way around? How do they survive such an amazing journey? Isn’t Nature incredible! Some of these birds, such as European great tits, are tiny.

As we move into winter, a lot of plants are now producing seed and fruits. This wild harvest is used by animals (and humans!) to stock up for the winter, either by eating and putting on layers of fat, or by storing. The wood mice have little storage areas for seeds under the ground, and we make blackberry jam!!!

Allotment Diary

The harvest has begun on the allotment. Almost everything is a bit late, but they are finally getting going. We are fairly sure that the yield will on the whole be lower than last year, a combination of weather, slugs, slugs, potato blight and aphids (I almost called them pests, and then thought it was a bit unfair. They cause problems for us, but are only trying to live their lives).

Here we have an example of how much the weather has affected the growth of plants this year. This photo shows our runner beans nearly 2 weeks ago.

This shows the runner beans at the same time last year.

Their growth was much more luxuriant, and the yield was higher earlier in the season. Over 4 days we picked 2 lbs last year. This year over 4 days it was 4 ozs, so about 1/8 of the yield this time last year. There is still time for them to pick up a bit, but it seems unlikely that we will get anything like what we had last year. The whole allotment looks more luxuriant.

Our potatoes, as mentioned briefly above, have all got blight. This is a fungal disease, which in a worse case scenario, can wipe out a whole crop. The sign that you have blight are random dark spots on the leaves that suddenly appear, and multiply rapidly. Looking closer at the leaves, you may notice a thin white ring around the black spot. We are not surprised that our potatoes have blight. If you find this on your potatoes, the first thing to do is not to panic. Cut off all of the plant above ground, but do not dig up the potatoes straight away. This is because the fungus can drop spores on the ground. If you delay digging them up for a week or two, there is a good chance that the spores will die, and not infect the actual potatoes. This is what we have done. We are now harvesting them, and there is a significant amount of damage by slugs. About half of them have been partly eaten by them. We have cut away the damaged part and left them to dry. The potato then forms a new skin where you have cut, and then can do very well in storage on the whole. Because of the blight, however, we will probably be checking the potatoes frequently to make sure none are rotten.

We hopefully have the beginning of a glut of courgettes (so it’s not all bad news). Here is one of the plants.

The pumpkins are also now growing well, and have some fruit on them. I saw a tiny fruit on the butternut squash yesterday as well. Our sweetcorn is beginning to flower, and may produce some cobs. The peas, spinach, kale, cauliflower and broccoli are all growing well. The root crops are all slow. We hope to pick the first of the beetroot next week, as it has finally started to look normal, after a very shaky few months. The swede looks terrible. It has been mostly decimated by slugs, and the bits that are left are about 2 months behind. Very sad. We pulled up a couple of small carrots this week as well. Our onions are almost ready to harvest, and although they look smaller than last year, we are grateful that the wet weather did not rot them. Onions do not handle wet weather very well at all.

In the greenhouse, our tomato plants are now producing fruit. The leaves are still a bit curly (as we mentioned in a previous article), but recovering. Here is a photo.

The cucumber plants are actually having a very good season (a rare thing this year).The aubergines, sweet peppers and chillis are all plagued with aphids, green and red ones. We have tried several types of sprays, but it hasn’t worked. So we have sadly resorted to killing them with our hands, which we are not happy about, but nothing else seems to be working. An attack of aphids can decimate a crop. In this case they often go for the flowers, which prevents the plant producing fruit, which you want.

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