Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Autumn Preparations For A Bountiful Winter

As the weather has turned colder, more blustery and extremely wet over the last couple of weeks – my thoughts have turned to preparations for autumn and winter.  A little early for that I hear you say, but I say, best be prepared a little early rather than leaving it too late.

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I have been transferring operations into the greenhouse where it is obviously sheltered and warmer than outdoors.  The tomato plants have been unstaked and laid down so that the rest of the tomatoes on the vine get a chance to ripen -  and I have stopped watering – a bit risky – not really, they have reached full size now  and just need to redden – possibly too much water at this stage would affect the flavour. 

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I still have Sungold outdoors where they have grown beyond their canes and are venturing over the fence into next doors garden – if they don’t get a chance to ripen now it has turned colder then I will strip the plants and bring the fruits indoors.

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The French Beans left in plant pots have been transferred into the greenhouse away from the cold and the slugs and already these late-sown plants are forming tiny beans.

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The runners have just about finished now but the ones I planted in the flower bed, which haven’t performed very well, are just starting – they obviously don’t seem to like being amongst the flowers and maybe haven’t had as much water as the others – I won’t experiment like this with them again as the beans are difficult to harvest in the flower bed.

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I have had to buy plug plants of all the brassicas due to the slug invasion that wiped them out – but maybe this is no bad thing, later plants means that they have missed the onslaught of caterpillars – they have been covered with nets and dome cloches until they establish – and liberal doses of pellets have been applied – I am taking no chances.

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The grow-bags that the tomato pots were standing on have been sown with lettuce and radish seed – the pea troughs also, with spinach and chard, and the potato containers have been re-sown with carrots.  These are all in the greenhouse where they will stay all winter in the hope of harvesting fresh crops. SDC12213

Once the courgette plants have been hit by frost I have some small cavolo nero kale seedlings to plant in their place – so that the raised beds stay productive all through the winter.

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And finally, I have cleared the strawberry bed, applied fresh compost and manure and re-planted with the plants that were growing in containers in the greenhouse.  There is only enough room for a dozen plants which is plenty for us - I have covered them with a mesh cover as we are having problems with badgers in the garden at the moment, and with freshly dug soil – they are likely to dig all the plants up to use the area as a latrine.

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I think I am getting the hang of this small scale gardening – it has been an interesting exercise to get as much as I can out of a small space – the secret seems to be to have plants-in-waiting, ready to pop in when a crop has finished - let’s hope all my plans are successful and we have a plentiful supply of food right through the autumn and winter.

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‘Til next time – be prepared.

35 comments:

  1. The small-scale gardening that you describe is exactly what I do! I even have the problem with badgers - or is it foxes? Something furtles around in my raised beds almost every night. I never see them do it though, so I can't conclusively identify the culprits. I have seen foxes in my garden many times, but in daylight. As you rightly say, the knack with a small space is to think ahead and have plants waiting in the wings, to be planted whenever the space becomes available. I'm not growing Cavolo Nero this year - I'm concentrating on Brussels Sprouts, followed by PSB this time.

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    1. I'm growing EXTRA Cavolo Nero this year; I find it so useful. My Sprouts are already producing, and last sunday I popped a few in with my roast chicken (with a couple of green peppers, courgettes, spuds, etc), and they were wonderful. Have you tried that?

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  2. Thanks for the good ideas and advice. I will try to follow them.

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    1. Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment.

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  3. Awesome idea lovely post thank you for sharing have a blessed day

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  4. Replies
    1. Not bad Catherine considering how cold the weather has turned.

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    2. We have heard that it's suppose to warm up again next week...keep the faith, Elaine ;)

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    3. You are right Catherine - it has warmed up considerably - hurrah!

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  5. You are indeed getting the hang of this small-scale gardening! I'd say you're an expert already. It's interesting about the beans grown with flowers. When I had a small plot in London I had the same problem. Much as we like to see flowers and produce all mixed together, it isn't always a resounding success. Good luck with the badgers. My veg plot has a much smaller issue with pheasants having dust baths in recently sown borders. I love seeing the pheasants, but I wish they had more respect for seedlings!

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    1. It's a shame that my experiment with mixed borders wasn't more successful I was hoping that it would give me a bit more space for growing veg in with the flowers - oh well, you can't win 'em all. Husband has sprayed the perimeter of the garden with Jeyes fluid in the hope that it puts the badgers off - it stinks though and it is putting me off too.

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  6. Your theory of having plants ready to pop in is exactly what I do, Elaine. Without a greenhouse, I have to grow extra plants on my balcony and they go into a cold frame in the garden before being planted out. I like the idea of sowing carrot seeds into the empty potato bags, useful. I planted courgettes next to (and therefore among) my nasturtiums this year and they didn't do as well as I hoped. Lesson learned!

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    1. The nasturtiums do tend to take over - they have climbed up the runner bean canes - my fault for planting them so close I guess - oh well, you live and learn.

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  7. We've had a big reorganise this week too. Chillies and peppers now all tucked up in the green house. We have to plan very carefully for our space and it looks as if you've already got things well under control.

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    1. The nights are getting so chilly now aren't they - anything that can be moved has been put in the greenhouse for safe-keeping as a precaution.

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  8. You have been far more industrious than I have been, and your blog post reminds me to get more seeds planted in the cold frames now, rather than later. You have such a fantastic tomato crop, amazing and I love the big photos.

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  9. Thanks Bren - I know you have had a lot of success with your winter cold frames which has reminded me to make more use of mine this year.

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  10. Small scale gardening can be very fruitful and taking advantage of every square foot can be a challenge. I've adopted growing heavy vine plants like cucumber, squash and pumpkins on old wooden ladders both vertically and horizontally. It is amazing how much extra growing space you have.
    Your plums look so yummy and the recipe you shared in the last post will make fine use of them.
    Susan

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    1. Hello Susan - thanks for visiting. Using ladders sounds a great idea for growing squash when space is limited - I may well try and rig something up for next year - thanks for the tip.

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  11. I think you're very well prepared for winter, I only wish that I was too. I just can't get myself sorted out well enough in summer to start the preparations, but I've been thinking of buying in some plug plants, I'm sure I'd be thankful of them once winter is upon us.

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    1. After reading your post about onions I decided to try and find space for growing some next year and was surprised to find that Wilkos had some onion sets in stock for planting in September - I should be able to squeeze in a mixed bag of 50 sets somewhere.

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  12. Replies
    1. It's quite a relief to stop watering every night - what a chore.

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  13. Dear Elaine - with the greenhouse it makes gardening all year round possible. Here where I live normally only harvest from April to Oct. - if lucky sometimes November. Everything looks wonderful. Love your cloche's - what a great way to protect young seedlings. Must do some shopping and try these. Take care and have a great day.

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    1. Hi Debbie
      Yes a greenhouse makes all the difference - it means you can start earlier and finish later. I agree the bell cloches are great for protecting individual plants - I bought those at half price last year, they are so useful. Enjoy your weekend.

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  14. I need to plan more, my tiny veg plots aren't nearly as productive as they could be...... just popped over from your other blog, didn't know you were here too!

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  15. Yes, have been for a while but took a lengthy blogging break.

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  16. It sure looks, and sounds, like you've done well this year and I'm sure will do even better next year.
    Apart from from tidying up into the autumn I don't much over the winter but I am already thinking about next year. Flighty xx

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    1. I have been thinking about next year too - I've already bought some spring bulbs - couldn't resist. ha!

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  17. This is a smashin blog too....I shall go and sign up!xxx

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  18. Yes time indeed to start making winter preparations Elaine. I've been away for a couple of trips over the last fortnight but must get down to it and am cheered by this week's weather forecast. It looks as if it will be perfect for gardening activities. I like your idea of growing your French beans on in the greenhouse. I sowed some back in July and rather than transfer them to the allotment now am tempted to move them under cover to my greenhouse at home. Much easier if they are there to inspect for stray molluscs too.

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    1. They are doing much better inside in the warmth and beans are now forming and growing - the slugs ate my early ones so I am taking no chances with this lot.

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  19. Lovely advice and very timely. I need to 'extract the digit' and get on with autumn sowing.

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