But more of the fox later, the number one priority on the allotment today was to clear away all the crops that had been damaged by the weekend frost. Incidentally it was strangely comforting to receive news that American allotmenteers were experiencing their first frost too – I like a bit of solidarity!
As we all know, the merest sniff of a frost is enough to make a cucumber sick, but our late and speculative crops of runner beans and French beans were also hit, along with the last few green tomatoes. It a shame, not least because this last few days has seen the coldest October weather since 1997 – this time the gamble didn’t pay off quite as well. But think; we’re still eating the last of the fresh tomatoes and we’ve rescued enough of the frost intolerant things to make a big batch of piccallili and even some green tomato chutney. So today we cleared the remains away ready to hoe the weeds off and apply a thick layer of winter mulch to the ground that we’re not replanting immediately. The asparagus is slow to turn yellow so we’re leaving it a day or two more before we cut the fronds back, weed the whole area and apply the seaweed straight from the big sack we brought back from North Wales. It was a struggle getting it into the car because it weighed about 100lbs, but we tied the sack tight to prevent any maggots(!) escaping, and there was no smell to speak of notwithstanding the gloomy predictions of our friends. All the while the sun shone, but as it dropped towards the horizon a real chill set in. There were a surprising number of allotmenteers about this afternoon and so some lively sharing went on as we compared surpluses. That’s one of the best thing about the allotments – the community – it has its ups and downs but basically it’s rooted in sharing not in grabbing what you can.
Then, just as we were packing up, the fox appeared. We’ve seen him often before but never quite so close. Even he was joining in the last minute hunt for food. We’ll all soon be looking for something to eat during the winter months and I don’t begrudge him a share of the surplus at all. It was a young dog fox in fine fettle with no sign of mange and of a good weight I’d think. We looked at each other for a while and he allowed me to get out my phone and take a couple of pictures while he regarded me warily. It was a very joyful moment.
Later we brought the produce back to the flat and cooked some of it. We’re thrilled with our carrots, parsnips and turnips, the first we’ve grown successfully in some years. The only downside of coming back to the city is the noise of the traffic. It’s incessant, noisy and pollutes the atmosphere so that, for asthmatics like me, November can be a tricky month.