Sunflower in the cutting patch
It’s that time of the year again when the evening chill sharpens, the leaves start to turn and we spend a fruitless Sunday morning trying to purchase Glastonbury tickets. And it has been months since I delivered any sort of news on this blog.
Some acquaintances cannot understand the reasons for writing the rubbish I do on this page, but I find a certain sense of unburdening happening when I write. Essentially this is no more than an open diary – in which I record what I am doing in the garden, as well as describing the antics of dogs and other companions as they illuminate my life. If people want to read it, so be it, but having a readership of sorts does give me another reason to do it. So as each year wheels around into another I am able to look back and build on my experiences to ensure that the next garden season will be better than the last.
So what has gone well this summer and what lessons have I learnt in the last couple of months?
My peas and beans were excellent, albeit briefly. Next year I am promising myself I will really get the hang of succession planting. A fortnight’s glut is not the sensible way to harvest these things.
The winter leeks were left too long and ultimately ended up like a small petrified forest with the texture of fossilised wood. But the pigs seemed to appreciate them as they munched their way through the lot.
Elsewhere the purple sprouting, cabbages and brussels look absolutely fabulous, which is because of this year’s other wonder crop. I had read about nasturtiums as a “sacrificial” plant to keep the cabbage white butterflies off the Brassicas and I could not believe the effect that they had. While the nasturtiums were being lacerated, the cabbages, PSB and brussels went unscathed. If I had been trying to cultivate a good crop of nasturtiums I might have been peeved at the shredding of the leaves, but there were still enough flowers to adorn the regular green salads – which were another success this year (an area in which I did manage to achieve some sort of succession, with salad still flourishing in greenhouse and garden).
Experience has helped me grow a good batch of onions – where the return of the Red Barron brought a good crop, that is storing well too. The same goes for garlic – with enough to see us through the next year – and shallots, which I have not only harvested, but have also learnt to use in cookery to good effect, and not be too precious with them.
The decision to plant early or late came under scrutiny once again this year. The OM would warn against being too preciptate with my planting (“Too early for runner beans”) and – weirdly – this year there seemed some truth in his seemingly inflexible ways with regard to the tomatoes. The early Shirley plants suffered from the extremities of cold nights and warm days and never recovered while the later Sweet Millions were excellent and we will still have a few more to harvest this week before they finally succumb to the colder nights and shorter days. (Mrs B’s pressure to plant early tomatoes to keep up with our horticultural neghbours should, perhaps, be resisted). The beans all did well but are another which could do with a second crop of late planters
The cutting patch for flowers proved to be abundant this year and next season, with a decent marketing strategy, we might actually sell jam jar posies and other bunches of proper British Flowers.
More recently I harvested the squashes which were a mixued bunch – but again, probably enough to see us through the winter with plenty of heart soups! But teh stand out crop of the moment are the chillis which are still growing adn ripening in the greenhouse in abundance.
So next season will be so much better, but like a really good round of golf it is never perfect. We will continue to practice and strive for perfection.
Red Barron Onions
Small crop of squashes
Pigs consuming greenery
Chillis: Hungarian Hot Wax, Bolivian Rainbow and Joe’s Super Long