One advantage with being in lock-down is there is no where to go but the garden, so work begun today clearing vegetable beds of weeds. The weather is still pretty cool so I am struggling getting things germinated. I was trying to be optimistic today and planted some radishes and mustard greens outside in one of the newly prepared beds.
Meanwhile we enjoyed some purple sprouting broccoli for dinner.
2. The false quince has some flowers but not many – I hope more will appear.
3. Meanwhile in the greenhouse, the comfrey plant that grows there is just starting to flower.
4. In the garden the crab apple is leafing up and it is still one of our friendly robin’s favourite trees.
5. Under the willow tree, the wild garlic is coming on nicely and we should have flowers soon.
6. And finally the drumstick primrose is doing it’s thing too.
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”?
We have had an exceptionally mild October. It has had it’s advantages as we were still harvesting a few beans and courgettes in the last couple of weeks, but on the other side some of the leeks have started to go to seed! This morning we woke to our first proper frost; plants were transformed into sugar-coated candy!
Many of the apple trees have cropped well and we are looking forward to tasting them all. I see each apple as having its own melody; smell, taste, texture are all different.
James Grieve apple
Annie Elizabeth apple
Pears have not done well this year – the few we have are covered in scab and are now beginning to crack. But it is the first year we have had Japanese Quince (only six though!).
In the vegetable plot, beans have done well. Garlic definitely benefited from being planted last October. Cabbages have thrived in the damp conditions. Squashes are few and far between and onions which I planted late are understandably small! All and all not too bad a harvest though.
July is fast coming to an end so I thought it was time for another garden update. It is not proving to be the best of summers. There has been lots (too much) of rain but thankfully temperatures are not as low as last summer, but it is not looking like we will have bumper harvests.
In the greenhouse, tomatoes and cucumbers are producing but not in big quantities so there has not been surplus for pickling. My cucumbers (and also the courgettes and squashes) have all got this strange virus – it looks like mildew, but starts as perfect circles and increases and multiplies till the whole leaf is covered. I keep taking off the affected leaves and so far the plants are surviving. One variety of cucumber (marketmore), shows no sign of the virus so I may concentrate on growing that variety next year.
In the polytunnel, the early broadbeans did well as did the Charlotte potatoes which we are about half way through. I have some beetroot to harvest and also started harvesting these purple kohlrabi. We all prefer them raw to cooked so will probably have the rest with salads. I just planted some more seed in the hope that I can get some to crop in late autumn or over winter for next spring.
Outside the first of the runner beans are appearing ( I put five plants in the poly on a wigwam and they are really not happy, and I don’t know why), and I am hoping for a better crop than last year. The dwarf beans are really suffering, probably because it is not warm enough. I did plant a couple in the greenhouse and it turns out this was a good idea because they are cropping well! Cabbages do seem to enjoy the wet and we’ve been enjoying the first (variety Greyhound), and I am hopeful that we will get a decent crop of red cabbage. Courgettes are small and slow.
We’ve had a few nice summer raspberries but the loganberries are proving very popular with the blackbirds!! We’ve picked over 2kg of blackcurrants and there are still some more. The kids are enjoying blackcurrant cordial and it’s a “bribe” to get them picking some of their own! Blackcurrants are always one of our best croppers.
Well things are busy in the garden this month but at least we are reaping some of the benefits. We’ve been enjoying broccoli from the greenhouse from over wintered plants, which are being gradually cleared out and replaced by cucumbers and tomatoes, and also a few early beans. We’ve also had a few early strawberries, and the first courgette is just coming.
Dwarf french beans
In the polytunnel things are getting a bit overgrown, as the early potatoes need to start coming out. The broadbeans have cropped well and we are enjoying them for dinner. The mange tout seem to have suffered from our recent dry and sunny spell as I think they prefer cooler conditions, so leaves are looking a bit yellow but they are still producing peas.
Outside plums are forming as are some pears and apples – though I am a bit concerned that the pears are already looking a bit scabby.
In the vegetable garden things are a little slow. Cabbages though have benefited from the warm weather as there has been minimum slug damage. Beans and onions are just coming slowly. I am gradually catching up with weeding but they seem to continue to grow!!
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.