Wednesday, 1 October 2014

September Roundup …

Well, another month bites the dust – and what a month.  Best September for a long time don’t you agree.  I have been trying to get everything in order before the weather turns nasty – which it is bound to do – no matter how much we don’t want it too. But there is still a lot to do and only so many daylight hours to do it in – but I’ll get there somehow.

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The cabbages that just survived the slug attacks

Trouble is, everything is still growing and producing, so there hasn’t been a chance to get the beds cleared and replanted – so I have been using the troughs as a sort of holding area.  The courgettes are still going bananas, as are the summer squash, and even though I am sick of the sight of them I haven’t the heart to pull them out when they look so healthy – I’m just going to have to wait for the first frosts.

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Summer squash propped up by a crate so  I could get down the path

I have pulled up all the bean plants now, and kept the big bulgy beans for next years seed of both the runners and the French beans.  The parsnip foliage has grown so lush that it is swamping everything else – so next year I am going to have a good think about where to put them – possibly in bottomless florists buckets as they worked well last year, and keep them in the now defunct flower border, even though it is possibly a bit too shady for them – we’ll see.  It’s all a bit of a juggling act.

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One psb plant dwarfing the short curly kale

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More psb plants in the border that desperately needs the forget-me-nots weeded out

The psb plants weren’t touched by the cabbage whites this year for some reason so they are growing big and strong, the kale which was kept under cover looks pretty healthy too, a bit shorter than normal but that’s probably because I didn’t plant them till late.  Just waiting for space to put the black kale in once the courgettes have finished.

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Parsnips, leeks, chard, spinach and spindly cabbages

The leeks are looking a bit pathetic but they were transplanted late as well, there’s always time for them to catch up.  And that’s about it – the winter onions are sprouting nicely, but the cabbages suffered from slugs, even though they were covered and pelleted, hopefully they’ll make a full recovery and begin to heart up a bit.

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Cold frame with florists buckets of beetroot, carrot, chard and spinach

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Troughs with winter onions, the last of the French beans and rainbow chard – the beans will be pulled  and replaced with something else, not quite sure what yet.

I still have a few outdoor Sungold to pick but they are almost over – I never thought I would be saying that it has been a great year for tomatoes!

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So, that’s my September roundup – not bad considering it hasn’t rained properly for weeks.  How does your garden grow?

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Izzy Wizzy Let’s Get Busy …

Processing garden produce into winter preserves is a time-consuming business.  This week it has been the turn of windfall apples, the last of the cherry tomatoes, and an over-abundance of courgettes.

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The last of the Cherry tomatoes turned into pasta sauce

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Windfall apples turned into apple sauce

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Rose hips ready to be turned into syrup

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Patty pan squashes and courgettes cooked and pureed ready to be turned into soups.

That’s it now – no more – I am quite happy with what I have achieved this autumn in preparation for winter.  And may I say that if I don’t see a courgette ever again it will be too soon.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Home and Away …

When we are away from home taking a break at the coast – I think about the garden – will my neighbour keep everything well watered – will I have huge marrow like courgettes to come back to – will all my new seedlings have withered in my absence.

I needn’t have worried.  I harvested as much as I could before we went away – told my neighbour to concentrate on the greenhouse should she be pushed for time – and kept my fingers crossed that everything would be okay.

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And as you can see – no huge marrows – a few beans from the greenhouse – loads of patty pan squash – and all the chillies ripened.

There were one or two problems though.  My two wigwams of late sown runners had serious problems.

One  was infested by blackfly – I have never seen anything like it – unfortunately I couldn’t get a good photo to show you – and the other  has an infestation of green beasties (shield bugs maybe)?  These are eating the buds as they emerge.

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So the whole crop is ruined and will have to be pulled out tout suite.

I still have masses of Sungold tomatoes ripening outside – no sign of blight (touch wood).

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The patty pan squash plant is rampant and full of what look like baby space ships – so cute.

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The seedlings in the greenhouse have doubled in size – although something has eaten the baby lettuce (on inspection I found a big slug sleeping under a pot).

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And the kale plants that are waiting to be put in the courgette bed are looking pretty healthy and don’t seem to be suffering from being kept in pots.  I have put them outside now to harden off.

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The winter onions have sprouted too – so very soon I will have to find space for them in the raised beds.  Has anyone ever grown onions in containers? – did they do okay? – that is something I may have to resort to – it’s all going to be a bit of a tight squeeze out there.

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So, all in all I can breathe a sigh of relief.  I did get a veggie garden fix whilst I was away though.  In Wells there is a fantastic allotment area  - just one field away from the sea.   The plots are on the whole beautifully kept and one in particular that you can see from the lane is a model of perfection – I didn’t have my camera with me (slapped wrists)  – I am sure you would have been as impressed as I – talk about busman’s holiday!

The other thing I wanted to mention is why are restaurants so stingey with veg? They never seem to include them with the meal – sometimes they are listed as a side order – when the meal could really do with a bit of green on the plate.  The fashionable thing seems to be to put on the menu where  all the meat and fish is sourced locally – on one menu in particular the veg was supplied by Fred So-and-So from his allotment.  Well, all I can say is, that Fred was having a bad year with his veg, or he was keeping the best for himself.  Where were the runner beans, where were the French beans, where were the spinach and chard -  surely he must have had loads to sell on – one meal we had, included some curly kale, which was as tough as old boots and certainly didn’t add any flavour to the meal at all.  I know in the main restaurants like keep things seasonal, but even I, with my limited means, could have found something green to add to the meals – they all seemed to be very keen to add salad leaves to everything though.  Sorry – rant over – you have discovered one of my ‘bete noirs’.

‘Til next time – happy harvesting.

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