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.
At long last all the hours of weeding, digging ,sowing and watering are paying off.
The Broad beans Aquadulce Claudia sown in the autumn have produced a good crop all now safely in the freezer. We have only just finished last years. The space left by them will accommodate the French beans which I always leave sowing until later.
The first root of new potatoes Rocket was dug today, enough for two meals easily and cooked with fresh mint, delicious.
The autumn planted garlic has been lifted and is now under the covered area drying and we will have plenty to keep us going until next spring. This empty space will be ideal for another sowing of lettuce and spring onions. We have been eating lots radish Bacchus, if you like your radish with a strong hot taste then this is the one for you and it grows very quickly.
In the greenhouse the tomato plants, cucumbers and peppers are all doing very well and I am now feeding once a week to increase the yield. I am still taking out the side shoots from the tomatoes. I accidentally knocked the growing tip off one of the plants so I am allowing the side shoot near the top to take over and it will continue to grow and produce flowers.
The fruit cage is bursting at the seams now all the currants, strawberries and summer raspberries are ripening and we have had the first pick to eat at breakfast. Rhubarb crumble was on the menu the other evening and there is still plenty more to come for a few weeks for us and for the freezer.
I love this time when the fruits of your planning and labour come good and nothing can quite beat the taste or satisfaction of home grown produce.
I shall be away on holiday for a while leaving my husband in charge of the watering and harvest while I enjoy some Greek sunshine.