Monday, 27 September 2010

Sad continued

 The rest of the garden has now had its tidy up too and, yes, this is also sad as I have to empty perfectly good pots and baskets.  The flowering pots and baskets have done really well this year and they looked to be going to last a while yet but, as I said, I have to do my tidying up earlier than I would like.

If, like me, you are enjoying a second flush of roses (and strawberries!) remember not to deadhead them like you would do the rest of the year.  If you do this it stimulates the hormones which tell the plant to make more flowers (to produce seed) and it will not give the rose a chance to beef up for the winter.  So enjoy the rose hips until the birds get them.

This season I've done battle with the mini pasture I inherited in my garden when we bought the house and after three years TLC it is beginning to look something like a lawn.  I did two weed and feeds and some scarifying and moss kill and a couple of additional feeds.  Strictly speaking I should be doing another scarifying and spiking to let air into the roots but it is a killing job and I don't have time or energy for it but for those of you who do this is the time to crack on.  What I will definitely do tomorrow rain or shine is scatter some bonemeal over it.  Again this is a bit early; next month would be better.  It gives it a good strengthening root boost for the winter.  Don't do a general purpose feed it will make too much soft growth.

The other thing which still needs doing and is important for the next couple of months (especially if they are mild) is killing slugs.  I use organic pellets which are deemed safe and work better in the rain  than the nasty ones - I start 14 February and do it 14th of every month for as long as I am around.  The last couple of months going into winter are really important as you want to get the population as small as possible so even less survive the winter and don't come back in force next year.  Again it is a battle being slowly won.  That said I found my first snail a few weeks ago so I'm not thrilled with that newcomer.

I've also planted my Spring bulbs.  It is OK to do that for daffodils but too early for the tulips.  That said I do it each year and still get results.  The tulips possibly flower a bit earlier than they should.

So everywhere is tidy and put away and ready for the snow!

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Saddest time of year for me

September is the saddest time of the year for me.  We spend most of the winter hiding in the sunshine elsewhere so I am a truly fair-weather gardener and my garden is 'put to bed' early and pretty finally until next April. This means pulling up and throwing away the last of any veg which are still struggling on.  

Tons of green tomatoes hit the bin.  Freezing them isn't an option as the freezer gets turned off and green tomato chutney is a pain to make for just two people - I would have a small grocer's shop full if I used all the tomatoes I had.  It is patently silly to grow them for the dozen or so we manage to eat before they succumb to the genocide.  I plan on trying to resist growing them next year; but then I've said that before!  The banana skin experiment didn't show any difference between ripening of ones with it and ones without.  To be fair it might well work because I started it a bit late probably.

We had beautiful lettuces - green and red and celtuce - all massacred too.  

Fortunately the beans had given up the ghost pretty much and we managed to harvest and eat the last of them.  I grew Hestia dwarf runners and dwarf purple tepee French.  I complained they weren't brilliant but when I think about it they are only one sixth the size of our usual six foot tall runners and French beans so logically they produce one sixth of the crop.  Seen sensibly this is really an advantage - we aren't up to our armpits in beans and they don't blow over in any strong winds, so I may actually consider them again next year.

The peas were delightful but never enough at one time to make a meal - we just munched them from the pods - still worth growing again just to do that.

We have also eaten the last of our potatoes.  We never ate a single Swift they were hit with blight before they even began to thrive - totally useless.  They were the middle row in three rows of spuds - on either side were International Kidney (jersey royals).  They have been fantastic and I can't recommend them enough.  Not only did they not catch their close neighbour's blight but they were perfect from early babies to full size potatoes later, which could still be scraped just by rubbing the skins off.  

My green peppers were rubbish and no loss when they hit the bin.  

Courgettes were uprooted early on in the season because we were fed up of eating them.

The beetroots were tiny hard golf balls in the main and I'm reconsidering giving them any space next season.  

An interesting decision on carrot growing has been made.  I grew two lots in the ground - staggered for different cropping times and one lot in a large (Potato) pot/bin.  Both lots in the ground were ruined by carrot fly (like last year and the year before) and the ones in the pot - growing two feet above ground - were just perfect.  So that's a no-brainer.  Carrot pots next year.  I do know the carrot fly apparantly can't fly or smell carrots over two feet above the ground and that you should protect them with a fleece wall but I want to always find the simplest/cheapest method of growing things and potting of carrots seems to be the answer.

The ground cress is still romping away alongside the rhubarb which is settling itself down for the winter - I shall leave those to just do their thing.  The other three beds are now cleared out, dug over and the cat deterrent netting frames are covering them ready for what a Bury winter can throw at them.

This is the point now where anyone who is doing the veg thing properly and planting their winter/spring crops might want to share information with anyone else reading this who is doing the same - over to you..................

For example do you plant garlic - does it work up here? Do you plant your broad beans this side of winter to get an early start - does that work this far North?