October is knocking and the dark nights are rolling in. It is the time of year for warm fires, stews and hot soups. But still the garden is providing despite the early frost of a fortnight ago. Cabbages have had a good year, as have onions. I do wonder though if the onions will store well as they have grown so big. The tomatoes were late but are still ripening. We’re enjoying apple and raspberry crumble too.
This is an old Irish variety called Gortnahort
Onions have done well
Brambley cooking apples
We haven’t bought any eating apples for a good two months now and these red pixie apples are still to harvest.
Eating apple, Pixie
One of the great things about autumn is free seeds. I have been harvesting some from my flowers and already have lupins, delphiniums, campanula and some wild flowers including ox-eyed daisy, foxgloves and ragged robin germinating and growing.
Ox eyed daisy seedlings
The chicks are growing too, and are spending most of their day in the greenhouse in a little enclosure that keeps the from digging young lettuce plants up!
We are definitely having an early autumn this year. Leaves are already beginning to turn and blackberries are ripening. While the summer seems warmer than last year, these last few weeks have been showery with very few dry or really warm days. In the garden, we’re enjoying the first plums and apples but like last year the pears have a very bad case of scab and are splitting and seem inedible. Not sure if this has been exasperated by the damp and often humid weather.
The weather has definitely brought on the potato blight, which we get each year. But this year the potatoes did go in on time and those we have harvested are a good size. Cabbages too are appreciating the plentiful rain and where not ravaged by slugs, snails and caterpillars are getting big.
Red cabbage protected by netting
Cabbage protected by netting
Runner beans have done much better than last year too. Not sure if it is because I got them in early and they had a couple of warm, dry weeks in May to get well established.
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Interestingly the courgettes outside are doing better than the one in the polytunnel or greenhouse. The older plants have established much better.
Bumblebee pollinating courgette
Carrots again failed to germinated well and / or were eaten by slugs! The same with beetroot, which last year I grew in modules before planting out. I must remember this for next year! Squash, are small and will probably not come to much. I feel that each year you need to grow a variety of vegetables and then hopefully something will do well!
So is growing your own vegetables and fruit a sign of “thrift” – defined by the Oxford dictionary as “the quality of using money and other resources carefully and not wastefully”?
In the local primary school, we have started an after-schools gardening club as part of the school’s biodiversity green-school project.
With over 40 (about a third of the school) children attending it takes a bit of organising, but thankfully other parents have come on board to help out. It is wonderful to see the kids get so enthusiastic about not only gardening, but also making the school more wildlife friendly.
Our first task was to make some bird boxes, which have subsequently gone up in the hedgerow which surrounds the school.
bird and bat boxes
making bird boxes
There are a couple of existing flower beds which were weeded and planted with some primulas to brighten them up. Daffodils were already present. The kids have since set seeds of other flowers and these will be planted out in the coming weeks.
There is one quite small raised bed from a previous attempt to grow vegetables. The first part of this has been filled with compost and planted with onions, beetroot, radishes, peas and lettuce. People have been very generous and donated seeds, pots, tools and compost. The kids are keen to grow pumpkins so last week we started of some pumpkin seeds. They have also planted up strawberry plants into a large pot which the kids have to keep watered and hopefully they will be rewarded with some strawberries before the summer holidays come.
First of radishes germinating
We’ve also planted a selection of apple trees. The soil at the site is poor and water-logged but we hope that over the years the trees will produce some apples that the kids will be able to harvest. We’d also like to incorporate some other soft fruit bushes like raspberries and currants. It’s very much a work in progress. But even if we can inspire just a couple of children to become avid gardens I will feel rewarded.