Real Men Sow

6 Tips for Composting Down Your Spent Crops

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Now Autumn is here, I’ve begun the process of clearing down my veg beds. Even on the smallest of plots, there can be a wide range of plants that need disposing down, with some even provide a little challenge along the way.

Just this year, I’ve worked up a sweat yanking out a well rooted courgette and channelled my inner puzzle solver trying to retrieve tangled squash runners without pulling everything else up that they’ve grabbed on to!

I like to reflect and make mental notes as I clear each plant. It’s the perfect time to observe how they grew, the levels of success and what I might do better next year. If you can note this down all the better, as unlike me, you then might remember all the useful information for next year!

One thing you’ll soon realise is that clearing down the beds creates a big volume of stuff to dispose of. I’m always amazed by the size of the pile that I’m left with at the end of this particular job.

The best place for your dead plants is the compost bin. Remnants of old plants, dead leaves and unwanted prunings provide an excellent ‘brown’ to a compost mix, contributing a useful source of carbon to the decomposing process.

Here are 6 tips for composting down your spent crops.

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The Impact of Autumn on the Allotment


Our Aga is being serviced next week. Apparently, after an Aga is serviced, they are then switched on again for the Winter.

This caused some consternation in our household. ‘It’s not even Autumn yet!’ I cried. ‘Yes it is,’ countered Ailsa, citing the astronomical calendar. She’s very good at evidence based argument.

As it turns out, the start of Autumn depends on whether you’re following the astronomical or meteorological calendar.

If, like my wife, you’re a fan of the astronomical calendar, then your seasons are defined by the Earth’s axis and orbit around the sun, and Autumn began on 1st September. The meteorological calendar is used by meteorologists to keep the seasons a consistent length, and so for those lucky folk, it’s still summer until the 22nd September.

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Adding Organic Matter to Your Allotment and the Importance of Soil Fertility


Recent posts on Real Men Sow have featured a theme of end-of-season reflection. I’ve looked at the good and bad of 2018, whether my massive squash plants were actually a hindrance and even pondering the reason for growing my own vegetables.

There’s something else that has also got me reflecting too. I’ve not had to think that hard to work this one out, but it has been a very welcome reminder: soil is king, and it’s health and fertility is vital for good crops.

The squashes went mad because the soil has been amazingly fertile. The other crops that did fight their way  through the mess have also been brilliant. The mangetout, beets, sweetcorn and carrots that were in that bed were the best I’ve ever grown.

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About Real Men Sow

meIn 2007, I took on a redundant allotment plot with my gardening-mad mum Jan. As all good mums do, she went along with it, but I don’t think she held out much hope. However, over a decade later, and she now lets me do stuff without watching over my shoulder, so I must be doing something right. [ read more ]

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Allotment Cakes for the Weekend

  • Allotment Cakes for the Weekend #15 – Blackberry and Apple Flapjack
  • Allotment Cakes for the Weekend #14 – Courgette, Lime and Coconut Cake
  • Allotment Cakes for the Weekend #13 – Jamie Oliver’s Squash Muffins
  • An Allotment Cake for the Weekend #12 – Lemon Curd & Blueberry Loaf Cake
  • An Allotment Cake For the Weekend #11 – Apple and Cinnamon Flapjacks
  • An Allotment Cake For the Weekend #10 – Fresh Ginger and Apple Cake
  • Good Food Magazine Marrow and Pecan Cake
  • A Rhubarbey Roundup, and Whatever Happened to Allotment Cakes for the Weekend?

Saving £500 a year!

During 2011, I kept a diary of how much money I save from growing my own fruit and vegetables. After totalling all my outgoings, I saved approximately £500 over the year. I made a spreadsheet to calculate these savings - it’s nothing too complicated, as I’m no Excel guru, but hopefully someone else will find it as useful (and strangely fun) as me. For more info, visit my Money Saving Experiment page by clicking here.


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