Hoorah, my seed potatoes have arrived and are safely set out in egg boxes on the window sill. I have just used the last of last years crop which kept beautifully in the frost free shed. The onions from last season are still going well with no sign of any shooting or rot as are the Shallots and garlic. The pots of crocus I planted last autumn are in bloom and looking very colourful on the conservatory window sill on sunny days when they open out fully.
Outside in the garden there are jobs to be getting on with when the weather permits. Pulling weeds is easy when the ground is soft and I carry a small plank about with me to prevent compacting the soil when I walk on it. I have had to put extra netting around my purple sprouting broccoli as the word has gone out around the local pigeon population and they sit on the tops of the plants and pick out the ‘sprouts’.
All the broad beans have come through the worst of the weather and I shall go out and tie them in to the sticks this week as they will soon start growing taller as the days lengthen. The autumn planted garlic bulbs have all come through and have a good 8 inches of growth on top and the shallots planted at the same time are greening up as well. Promises of good things to come.
Out in the flower garden the snowdrops and aconites are looking splendid and the Winter Sweet is in full flower giving off a gorgeous perfume by the front arch as everyone walks by. A flower arrangement of Christmas Box (sarcococca) and snowdrops in the house fills the room with a wonderful scent and lasts for a week.
The chickens have made good use of the fruit cage and have been scratching around the bushes picking out slugs and bugs. They will only have a few more weeks before they have to be excluded as the buds on the currant and gooseberry bushes are swelling already and there is nothing the girls like better than a juicy bud.
A beautiful sunny autumn day is just the inspiration need to go out and do some tasks that have been put to one side and the prospect of cold weather is another good reason to be busy.
I have dug over the ‘squash bed’, the planting moves around the bed but there is plenty of space for the trailing plants. I am going to try growing them up a trellis this year, In saw this done at Hyde Hall and it saved space and gave a good crop. One corner of the bed I have created a new raised strawberry bed to have new plants as the old ones are very tired and I wanted new varieties. Flamenco and Everest which is a variety that can be trained up a trellis both are ever-bearing so have a long productive season.
Two weeks ago I planted some broad bean Aquadulce Claudia seeds in cells in the greenhouse, they have grown big enough to be planted out today, I have put in the support canes now so that I can tie them up as the winter winds blow, but it will be worth the early crop.
While watching Monty Don a couple of months ago he was planting seeds for Swedes and Turnips. I planted some myself and I am surprised how fast they have grown, Swede Brora and Turnip Snowball both doing well. The latent heat in the ground germinated them quickly and a few showers of rain have swelled them well.
The Garlic Germidor planted a couple of weeks ago is up well and I have put the shallots in next to them.
The ground has been well composted and we should get a good crop of both next summer.
As there is cold weather expected I have moved all my lovely geraniums into the greenhouse along with the Ginger Lily, the Agapanthus and Fuchsias are in the cold frames but will get plenty of fresh air on sunny warmer days to prevent botrytis and mildew.
The chickens are in the fruit cage for the winter doing their usual clean up around the fruit bushes. Last year I took cuttings from my gooseberry which is a good large fruiter and I wanted to have more of them. So after seeing Monty Don plant his to create cordons I have done the same, I will keep you posted on their progress.
With Autumn now really with us it is time to get the garden and veg plot sorted for the winter.
The first task was to lift the last of the main crop potatoes, Sarpo Mira, these had chance to dry in the sun and then get bagged up in the hessian sacks I use. All the very small or damaged ones were peeled and mashed and frozen so nothing is wasted. The Mayan Gold a particular favourite for their lovely creamy colour and texture got the same treatment. We should have enough potatoes to see us through the winter.
Then I let out the chickens and they helped me dig over the bed, they especially liked it when I opened up the compost heap to spread a layer over the top. If you are planning a similar job watch out for the slow worms (I found two) as they are snuggling in for the winter.
Next job on my agenda is to get picking my eating apples, luckily not too many came down in the high wind this week, they will store nicely in the shed on the bench.
A late sowing of dwarf French beans, Speedy has lived up to its name so we are eating plenty and freezing lots as they freeze well loose for use all through the year.
The Butternut squash Harrier has not done as well as last year, but the Crown Prince with its lovely orange flesh and grey shell have grown beautifully and are stored away for the winter. They grow so big you need to share them with family and friends when you cut them open.
The flower garden is still looking very colourful, some plants I think look better at this time as they enjoy the extra moisture and the cooler nights. I shall continue to dead head to encourage the last flush of flowers from Verbena, Petunia and begonias. The Fuchsias have recovered from the Hawk moth Caterpillars and grown more leaves so they will go on flowering longer as well.
I have stocked up on soil based compost as I want to re-pot some Hydrangeas that have out grown their pots, when they go dormant along with various other small potted shrubs.
The twenty or so cuttings I took from my perennial Wall Flower ‘Bowles Mauve’ have all taken so I shall have a replacement and some to spare for the very large one I have taken our that got very woody. I have also taken cuttings from my favourite Blue Berry bushes as these can suddenly fail as they age. I also fancy some new varieties as well, Chandler and Earliblue look like they will being productive and tasty.
Hello, it’s been a long time since I had the time to sit down and let you know how the garden has been progressing through August.
We have been harvesting everyday in the vegetable patch. I can’t remember a year where we have had such a good potato crop, both early and main crops have grown very well and to date no blight. Carrots are abundant and no carrot fly, they have been well protected behind insect mesh along with our lovely crop of brassicas. We have managed to keep the dreaded white butterflies and local wood pigeons off with netting.
Runner beans are all in the freezer as are the surplus Victoria Plums and we are busy cooking and freezing the cooking apples to see us through the year.
The tomatoes have proved very abundant and all varieties have ripened well. They are being skinned and frozen in readiness for pasta sauce using all home grown garlic, basil and onions. This is then bottled for use throughout the year.
In the flower garden the baskets tubs and bedding are all full of colour. The large hardy fuchsia that has been in the garden for twenty years has been completely de-foliated by the biggest caterpillars of the beautiful Elephant Hawk Moth. Not a problem for the plant and a big boost for the moths.
Everyday there is something else to pick, cook and preserve. If Gooseberries are your thing this year’s harvest has given you something to shout about. So many in the freezer, given away and eaten it has to be a record year.
That goes for all the harvest of the other soft fruits we shall be eating blueberries for months, no hardship as they are my favourite along with cherries.
Despite my best efforts at netting the tree a dear little squirrel has managed to get inside and eat all the flesh just leaving the stalk and stones hanging there. Tell tale teeth marks on the stones!
While I was away my husband kept everything watered and was giving veg boxes to neighbours and family. I don’t think they want any more courgettes for a while. Growing both yellow Parador and green Defender at least makes the dish look a bit different. While away I was eating a Cretan dish made with potatoes, courgettes and cheese which I shall attempt this week as my vegetarian granddaughter is with us for the school holidays.
All the shallots are now dried off and stored, have hung them and the garlic in the nets that covered the garden ready plants from Thompson and Morgan this year. Anyone else found a use for them?
The rain has boosted the growth on the squashes and carrots and the cabbages look spectacular. I am continuing to sow lettuce and spring onions and radish to go with the bumper crop of tomatoes and cucumbers we are getting.
The flower garden took a bit of a battering again with the heavy rain but a bit of prudent trimming and dead heading has brought it back round.