October 2020

19th October - with Covid 19 spreading rapidly again, we are all grateful for the havens that are our plots. Being able to work outside, listen to the birds sing, watch the variety of wildlife passing by and enjoy growing our own food... what blessings

The weather has still been mild enough to work withough a coat on, especially when it is hard physical work, which is what I have been doing for the past few days. When you get as far as the photos, you will see what I mean!

Harvests have definitely changed, with this week having the final Cucumber and not so many Tomatoes, but plenty of veg more suited to colder weather. Without further ado, here is

Harvest Monday,

which links with other growers around the world, via Dave's Our Happy Acres, the link for which is at the end every week

 

The first harvest is floral... Dahlias. The creamy Cafe au Lait have been magnificent this Summer, and the small white one with the lavender centre has also been prolific

I really enjoy the whole colourful mix of varieties as well, and they look terrific all in the same bed together. I shall be heavily mulching them with compost in five or six weeks' time, and cross my fingers that the tubers don't get eaten by rodents

Scarlet Kale plants had a difficult beginning, as I dropped the tray upside down onto the ground, breaking lots them beyond salvation. There were just a few rather scrabby looking ones worth planting out... but some did make it, and here is the first picking!! 

Once cooked, it turns an amazingly bright bottle green, and tastes very good indeed

Fortunately, there is plenty of Cavolo Nero growing strongly so I shall have enough Kale to eat during the Winter

Tomatillo is the surprise of the season. Two plants, set out in the only space available at the time, which was rather shady and dry until the Pea plants were pulled out half way through the Summer

But despite this, they grew, flowered: and are still flowering in fact... and produced fruit, lots of fruit. I think they need to be planted out a bit earlier, obviously in a more suitable spot, and they could be even better

Chopping them up raw in a simple salsa shows of their sharp citussy flavour, and cooked with oion and lime, they are amazing. 

It is good to have enough to share with other people, who haven't tried them before either. There may be some converts to share plants wih next year, who knows? I shall certainly be growing them again for sure

The birds at the plot have been pecking ino the Apples, and so I have picked the larger ones to bring home. The marks in the skin are only on the surface, and once they are peeled, they look perfect, excellent in a crumble I found!

There are more fruit on another tree, so I shall pick them next week before the birds get going on these too

The last of the Cucumbers has been picked. They are quite small, but will still be tasty in salads and grated into plain yoghourt as a dip. From now, on, it wlll be the pickled ones from the garage used to remind me of that Cucumber flavour

Othe harvests this week, which i forgot to photograph, have been Carrots, Swede, Tomatoes and Beetroot

On The Plots This Week:

I worked out I have spent a total of almost 20 hours working on the plots this week, and at last they are both looking fairly respectable.

#145 has one bed left to clear before covering, the one where I grew Climbing Beans, Sweetcorn and Tomatoes this year, and one other is ready to cover. All the other are planted up: tall Brassicas, Fennel,Spring Cabbage & Kholrabi, short Brassicas including Kale, Autumn Onions, Garlic, Shallots and Comfrey. The flower beds will be renovated over the Winter and the Dahlias heavily mulched

 

The Japanes Shenshyu Onion seeds, sown on 1st of October, as just beginning to germinate. The instructions on the packet say to leave them over Winter, then transplant in mid to late March into their final growing positions. 

I have left space to use for this, alongside the Onion sets. Never grown these before so a bit of a voyage of discovery

Last year I struggled to keep up with #146, which is why this year some beds are being turned over to permanent planting, and the central section developed as a Forest Garden. THis leaves the sunny end of the plot for vegetables, and flowers around the patio/canopy seating space

The veg beds are at last free of weeds, with leeks and Parsnips looking healthy. I have taken out the strips at the back end of each bed previouly for flowers, as these beds are already quite small

The Asparagus, which was planted this Spring, is now ready to mulch. The stems and ferny leaves are turning yellow, so I shall take these off at he same time as laying a layer of compost over the bed. 

The wide path along the front of the patio has had many layers of woodchip added over the past years, and this has rotted down to ake baeutiful thick, black compost, perfect for mulching, so once the weeds and random strawberry plants are out, this is what I shall do. 

It is worth lavishing a bit of care  on the Asparagus, because although it takes a few year before the spears will be harvested, they should carry on providing a crop for many seasons to come

Between the Leeks and that path is a flower and dwarf fruit tree bed, which had turned into somewhat of a Fennel Forest during the past few years. Now, I like Fennel, and harvest the seeds to dry and use in cooking, but several large clumps was just too much, so..... the bed now has some rose bushes in it, of a sort that should flower most of the Summer and provide enough to cut for vases at home as well as enjoy on the plot

And at the top end, which is quite hot and dry in the Summer, one bed is ready for Spring bulbs and Mediterranean herbs,  with the addiotn of two strip of Swtt Williams for cutting.

The otheris already planted up with some wild flowers: Teasel, Ox-Eye Daisy and Birds' Foot Trefoil and Ground Ivy, which, although invasive, provides a useful ground cover, and is easy to keep under control by hand weeding if necessary. The small purple flowers are appreciated by lots of insects, including bees

The paths are more or less clear of weeds now, and if wood chip is available, I can cover them a and everything will look tidy again

The section in the centre is the Forest Garden: I shall say more about this next week

In the PolyTunnels This Week:

Night time temperaures have stayed around 5C, and the Tomato plants are still looking fairly good, as are the Chillies and Peppers. This coming week may well be their final hurrah though. 

One little success has been the Land Cress plants that Jane gave me as seedlings. You can see them along the bed edge on the right hand side. The leaves are just like Watercress, and make a nice addition to salad. I think they are hardy, so might be good all Winter. Hope so

 

Over in the other tunnels are more of the over-Wintering crops, which are growing away in the mild Autumn temperature. If they establish strong roots, they will hopefully be good for harvesting during the WInter and through into Spring. Mustard Green leaves are almost large enough to cut a few already

At Home This Week:

The Yew trees are full of juicy red berries that glow like jewels in the sunshine. As soon as they are ripe, all the Blackbirds from the neighbourhood will be enticed over for a daily squabble and gobble, which is always good to watch

Autumn colours are really starting to shine through the Summer greens in the garden now, and it won't be long before all the leaves are off that Fig tree and I can take out a couple of the branches that limit my use of the clothes line. Now that the sun doesn't shine for long on the section near the house, I really do need to use the bit down at the far end of the garden!

 Pressure from seasonal jobs at the plots has meant less time for working in the garden this week, although I did cut the grass while it was fairly dry, smearing the worm casts about...another sign Autumn is here, those worm casts.... and put away the hosepipe

I have managed to clear a lot off that never-ending Jobs List though, and both plots are looking much better cared for now, especially #146, which had some areas engulfed in weeds. I don't think I could have worked harder if I had tried!

This week's list is really last week's list of things relating to home, involving the greenhouse, troughs on the wall and seed sowing in modules. The Citrus trees are ready to come in as soon as night time temperature drop to near zero though, ansd their space is ready indoors

At the plots, weeding the large area between the new rose bed and the patio and digging up the exposed compost for mulching the Asparagus bed, plus, if any is available, putting down new woodchip on all the paths will be the big jobs this coming week

Plus:

-cover the old Squash bed with black plastic

- plant the remaining Garlic

- cut back the Tomato plants in the tunnels

- check over the chilli plants and decide whether to harvest fruits or leave them a little longer

- mass Daffodil planting on #166, the plot behind mine, which has been adopted for communal use (The ground is like iron so might need some help there!)

A quick update on the Hedgehog House: lots of straw has been pulled out and is lying around outside the door. I stuffed it back in the first time it happened but it came out again. Is this a sign Hedgehogs are investigating? Let's hope so

See you next week!

 

 

My contact email is

info@alittlebitofsunshine.co.uk

 Comments and suggestions are most welcome, and I shall reply as soon as I can

And if you'd like to know more about Harvest Monday, look at

www.ourhappyacres.com

12th October - As we move again into more and more Lock Down across the Country, allotments and gardens continue to support not only physical well being, but mental health as well. I know my plot is a haven, when life feels normal for the time i spend there, quietly doing my own thing by myself as usual. Long may those benefits continue to be recognised in these times that not only bring challenging but increasingly fearfulness as well

There is much to enjoy in growing your own food, and of course in growing flowers or other plants to enjoy,  through that raw contact with Nature. It has been said that having your hands in contact with soil bacteria strengthens the immune system, so perhaps there are further hidden advantages to us gardeners

It might seem odd to choose a photo of two Swede as my main celebration this week, but if you knew how for how many years I have had total crop failure, you may understand. These are the first ones I have ever, ever grown in my whole life that resemble real Swedes!!

They are a variety called Brora, sown in early May, and grown on in modules before being planted out in June (with a dose of chicken manure pellets in their hole)  to follow on from a crop of Calabrese. Lots of water, lots of weeding, grown under fine mesh in full sun... here they are, fat and a beautiful purple. Plenty more to follow, too!!!

So, to start off this week.s Harvest Monday, may I present.... Swede

I am looking forward to tomorrow's dinner, when Swede mashed with lashings of butter and lightly seasoned with black pepper will be on my plate..hurray!! Later in the week, joined by mashed Potato,  it will make a gloriously golden topping for cottage pie

When I was a child, we were not especially well off financially, and often our Saturday evening meal would be mashed Swede on toast. My brother hated it...although when you are hungry you eat whatever you get given ... but I loved it, and have loved Swede ever since. Now I shall have the chance for plenty of indulgence over the coming weeks, and plenty share too, not necessarily on toast though

Here is the first white ball-head Cabbage of the season, from the group I photographed last week. It is absolutely solid inside and makes the most outstanding coleslaw, as well as being totally delicious lightly steamed, dressed with butter and black pepper, or finely sliced in stir fry and cooked enough to just heat through

 

You can totally see the juicy density of it... and so easy to grow this year. The plants were grown from seed,  and planted out to follow on from the Shallots. They do like the soil to be very firm indeed around their root ball: if not, they don't form these lovely dense heads, but more a loosely formed shape, still edible but not so crisp. A good sprinkle of chicken manure pellets in the planting hole gets them off to a good start too

Mooli are doing well this year, so well that one root snapped in the ground when I was levering it out! I do like their hot spiciness when they are raw, and slicing them finely into salad works well for me,  or matchsticks in stir fry, although I appreciate not everyone likes them

The absolute favourite for me though are Moolli stuffed parathas, using the leaves as well as the grated flesh, a good, old-fashioned Punjabi dish, served with mint and yoghourt relish and hot spicy pickles. I cooked some for Sunday's Plot Breakfast, as it was friend's birthday... I gather that he enjoyed them as he was more than happy to take the left overs home!  

Having pulled up the larger roots, the smaller ones now have more space, and really I think they will carry on growing through November too, which I shall be really pleased about. Don't worry Daughter-Mine... none will come your way to haunt you!!

Figs just keep on coming, both from Abi's little Brown Turkey tree at the plot, and the enormous Brunswick tree in the garden. I think I have probably eaten the fianl couple of Brown Turkey fruits now though, and today I picked all the fruit at home that had changed colour...jus over a kilo of Figs! Some of the more luscious ones will be quickly eaten, but I plan to make a conserve from the others

The leaves are beginning to turn yellow and fall now, so I shall be able to more easily see the structure of the tree and plan how best to prune it. There are lots of Figs about 5cm or so in length, but they are hard and green, and I doubt they will ripen now. It has certainly been a good crop though, for which I am very grateful

There are still plenty of leaves for salad, and this week's harvest included, Rocket, which is good and spicy, Cataluna Lettuce, soft and sweet, Malabar Spinach, with good susbtance and plenty of crunch, alongside Celery stalks and Spring Onion greens

At the moment there are plenty of Cherry Tomatoes still being harvested, although the Cucumber expansion is much much slower now. 

Some matchsticks of Kholrabi also ring the changes, so that I am not eating the same side salad every day

This week I picked the Apples from the tree in the garden, and although the harvest was not so bountiful as usual, there were still four large bowlsful. The undamaged ones will keep for months, but any with peck marks in are being used fairly quickly. This week I made Apple Muffins, which didn't only look good, they tasted pretty good too

They are Golden Delicious, but bear little resemblance to the fruit sold under that name in the shops, as they are bursting with juice and live up to their name alright. They may not be everyone's favourite, but having an Apple that keeps so well is certainly good in my book!

There are still lots of Tomatilloes on the plant, and I am thinking of trying to make some sort of relish to preserve them, as there really are more than  I would want to eat right now. So far most have been chopped into a salsa, or cooked with onion and lime juice, before being stirred into egg as it scrambles in the pan, but I am looking for a way to keep a jar or two over the Winter. I'll let you know how it goes

With the cold weather coming, they won't stay happy out on the plot for much longer, so having a way to deal with largish bowlful would be good

 

I dug the last of the Potatoes this week: Setanta, a blight-resistnat, maincrop variety with a very sturdy skin. It is a good all rounder, that stores very well. The extra watering this year has certainly paid off, as the majority of tubers were a good size, and there were plenty of them There was no damage from slugs or wireworm whatsoever: these are certainly on the list for next year.

(Those little white bumps on the skin are normal for this variety, it is not some strange condition!)

On The Plots This Week:

There have been some "almost frosty" morning this week, and the Asparagus fern has looked as though it was decoraated with tiny jewels in the early morning sunshine, quite ethereal. It also meant everyhting is dripping wet! That, coupled with plenty more rain, has meant me often coming home rather muddy.

The wire mesh surrounding the Squash bed to keep out animals, is now rolled up and in the shed, the spent plants and weeds are in the compost bin and the Squashes themselves are all on the dining room table to finish drying off before they are stored. Just a few Gladioli to take up and then I can cover that bed. I'll photograph the Squashes for next week

All the tall Brassicas are securely tied to their stakes, and it was good to see the Brussels Sprouts starting to form in the leaf axils.While the net was off,  I took out all the dead leaves from under the plants and pulled out any weeds. All in all, the plants are all looking good.

I found space in an adjoining bed for some Spring Cabbage to go in, where the Spinach had been earlier, and I noticed that the purple Kholrabi are starting to fill out at last: these are certainly much slower than the pale green ones, which is an advantage really as it spreads out the harvest

I have been hoeing over the two beds when Onion sets etc will be planted, almost every visit, as there has been a rash of seedlings popping up. It seemed sensible to wait a week to plant the sets, so get rid of the majority of these weeds before we start, certainly much easier than hoeing between the small bulbs

The transplanted Comfrey all seems to have taken, which i am pleased about: there should be enough plants to cut them in turn next season, to provide leaves to ake fertiliser or add to the compost. The compost bin  in use at the mment is bulging at the seams, but the contents will soon subside and more can be added. I have put plenty of shredded paper in amongst the green stuff, and it is plenty damp enough. The black plastic cover absorbs heat from the sun, which also hastens the process of rotting down

Over on the other plot, I have taken out the forest of Fennel and Nettles screening any view of the plot, should I find time to sit down and look. That bed was starting to look very neglected, but now it is all tidy, with as many of the Nettle roots dug out as I could. I shall have to keep an eye open for bits that start to grow and deal with them promptly. The plan is to have scented Roses with a long flowering season,, underplanted with Tete-a-Tete daffodils,  Rudbeckia Goldsturm (from my daughter's garden), together with the existing white Delphinium and pale blue Flag Irises, originally from my Dad's garden, plus of course Abi's yellow Rose. There is still one clump of Fennel alongside Verbena bonariensis, and a clump of shocking pink Geranium too. I just have to buy the Roses!

I moved the Lily-of-the-Valley roots to the Forest Garden area, as I think they will flourish there, and  I have also re-sited some pink Japanese Anemone from the wild flower bed.It is slowly coming together, I just have to hang on to the vision where this rarea is concerned, as bits look very scrubby still so far...and breathe.....

The fruit cage net is off at last! Clive and Theresa provided invaluable help, and the net is now twisted up (with string tied around the bundled ends so I can find them again next year... top tip, this!!), so I will be able to finish pruning the soft fruit and taking out nettles, yes, more nettles. Luckily, they add a good dose of Nitrogen to the compost heap contents

In The Polytunnels This Week:

In one polytunnel, it still feels like the end of Summer, with Tomatoes still ripening, especially the Black Opal Cherry ones, Cucumbers expanding, albeit a little slower, and Chillies and Sweet Peppers chnaging colour read to harvest.

In the second one, it feels more like Autumn, and this week I planted out the last few Spring Cabbage there was space for, alongside all the other small plants already in the bed to grow on through the Winter

The night time temperature difference between the tow is a surprising 2.5C, which I can only put down to the shelter provided by the shed opposite the end door. It is enough for the Tomatoes and Cucumbers not to have given up yet

 

 

At Home This Week:

In the kitchen, apple muffins, mooli stuffed parathas and some sweer red pepper relish have appeared, far from the recent lareg quantities of things in jars.... life is slowing down on all fronts, including of course, preserving of Summer crops. No Chilli Jelly as the chillies are not quite ready, and no Nasturtium Pesto as the leaves collapsed in the low night time temperatures, just bordering on a frost. Pears are awaiting still, in the fridge!

I haven't spent all that much time at home this week, during daylught hours, but I have managed to cut back the ever-encroaching brambles along sode the green house, right back to the fence. It was so dark in the greenhouse with them all over the roof, I felt slightly guilty about the one occupant, a ginger plant. It certainly feels good to have that job done, as it is one I really, really dread. I also took off all the moss that had grown on the glass alongside the roof bars, and cleaned the guttering. After all the rain recently, the glass didn't need a clean, which was at least one good thing, and the outside of the greenhouse is ready now for the Winter (Just the inside to go!)

The renovation  of the sundial bed, has also started, with digging out a large clump of that apricot Crocosmia. There is more to go of course, but as I was taking plants from the plot to my daughter's house, it seemed a good idea to take these at the same time. I came home with all sorts of goodies, including some small flowered red type of gladioli, which will soon find a home!

There are not too many carry-over's from last week's Jobs List, just really the Pears to bottle, the Cauliflower seed to sow and the Onion sets, Garlic and Shallots to plant

Other Jobs This Week:

- Get the greenhouse ready for Winter: remove shading net, launder and put it away; prune the  grapevine, take out remains of Tomato and Aubergine plants to compost; clean the inside of the glass and staging,  put up bubble film insulation; move the French Tarragon plants (potted up from the polytunnel)  into there; check the heater works

- Start to wash pots and trays and put them away

- Get the Citrus trees ready to come indoors for the Winter: wash out trays, top up compost if required and take off any dead or yellowing leaves 

- Empty out wall troughs, use new linings and compost, ready to re-plant as soon as new plants arrive 

- Sort out netting covers for the Onion and Leek beds; weed the flower area at the end of the Leek bed

- Plant remaining Wallflowers in troughs

- Check Broad Bean and Early Pea seed stock ... sow in modules if time

- Empty large pot of Monarda at plot and plant some of plants in new Herb Bed. Add new compost and replant some in that pot again

- Clear away outdoor Tomato plants

- Cut down any remaining Tomato and Cucumber plants in polytunnels, harvesting remaining fruit, to ether ripen at home or make into relish

_ Start the pruning of fruit bushes etc in the cage area, and nettle removal

- Take out Gladioli from Squash bed and replant elsewhere; cover bed

- Order Roses for plot

I somehow doubt that will all get done, but I do like to get things ready for Winter and the coming season, before starting to review harvests and draw up the sowing plan, which of course has really alreday begun with the Senshyu Onions!

I hope you are all staying  fit and well, and enjoying the treats of the Autumn... I shall be back next week

PS I shall add the Apple Muffin recipes as soon as i can

 

 

 

 

 

My contact email is

info@alittlebitofsunshine.co.uk

 Comments and suggestions are most welcome, and I shall reply as soon as I can

And if you'd like to know more about Harvest Monday, look at

www.ourhappyacres.com

5th October - This month started with a deluge here, more than making up for a very dry September over just three days : 10cm of rain fell, so much rain that the road under the railway bridge near our site was completely flooded. Jobs I had planned to do outside had to be postponed, athough I did get some done this morning in a brief dry spell 

It is certainly end-of-season for harvests, although there was one surprise, as you can see from the first crop to the table for this week's Harvest Monday

Purple Sprouting Broccoli !!!! I have never harvested this in October before, more usually the first spears are ready mid-January. I hope it doesn't mean an early harvest overall, as  this is pretty much a staple in the cold of late Winter. We shall see

It was very tasty though, sliced lengthways as part of a str-fry

More usual for this time in the year are Sweet Red Peppers, and this year the Gogorez have been excellent, with large, thick-walled juicy fruits, great sliced in salads but will also make a very well-flavoured relish to store

The Mooli sown a few months back are at last filling out well, with roots poking 8 to 10 cm above the ground now. They are very spicy indeed, so need to be thinly sliced in salads, but my favourite use or them is grated to stuff parathas, together with the chopped up leaves. As there are several large ones in the row, I am looking forward to these later in the week. Served with plain yoghourt lightly flavoured with finely chopped mint, it is a truly delicious meal. If time permits, it may well also be my contribution to next Sunday's Plot Breakfast!

Carrots are still going strong, and if they don't attract the attention of small rodents, should last well in the ground over Winter. Some have green shoulders, from where they poke above the soil level, but is doesn't affect their eating quality in any way.

This week I made a lentil-based Lasagne, with a base of Carrot, Celery and Onion, which with the aid of my trusty food processor, took minutes to prepare for cooking. Good to have all the ingredients there, ready to use. There are still plenty of Celery stalks to harvest, and lots of Onions in store at home too

Ingredients for home-grown late season salads are still available. This Lettuce is a Merveille de Saisons, which is a really well-flavoured variety I shall certainly grow next year.

The Spring Onions are Ishikura, seeds I had left over from the previous season, and are proving to be as good as the blurb on the packet suggested. They grow straight, without developing an onion bulb, which is helpful as they will be standing in the ground for some time yet

Cucumbers still have some fruit developing, and I am keeping my fingers crossed this one is not the final harvest of this year

And Tomatoes have still been plentiful: Black Opal and Mountain Magic were good just halved and added to the bowl of salad. The fruits of larger varieties picked this week were used to make another batch of bottled sauce, this one with added Garlic

Other harvests this week have included Malabar Spinach, Summer Radishes and Raspberries

On the Plots This Week:

Before the rains started, I sowed seed of an Autumn Onion Senshu Yellow. THis is new to me, and I am expecting to be able to leave the seedlings to stand over Winter, and thin them out, hopefully transplanting these thinnings, in early March

The Shakepeare Onion sets have arrived, and I hope to get them in the ground fairly soon, so that they can develop good strong roots before the cold weather arrives. I have those red ones too, of course. One bed is ready, and the other only needs some Blood, Fish and Bone raked in, a few days ahead of planting

i've made a start on the planting for the new herb bed, over next to the Lavender hedge where the soil is relatively poor and impoverished, so seems ideaal for Mediterranean herbs. I moved the large sub-shrub of Winter Savory, finding  a few rooted cuttings at the same time. These are temporarily planted along side the parent plant until they are given to happy recipients ... this is not a common herb, but is certainly worth growing

 

I took the fine netting off the Winter Brassica bed for weeding, and was really pleased at how well everything is doing. Growing small numbers of several different varieties seems to be going well and should avoid gluts

The Ball Head Kilaton Cabbages are pretty solid. These stand well without splitting, so I shan't need to harvest them a ll at once. They are very white inside and being very sweet tasting, make really good coleslaw, as well as being excellent steamed

The Red Cabbages, Lodero, are slower to heart up, which as I think of it as more of a Winter crop, is a good thing

And the Savoy Cabbage, Cordesa, are also looking very good. These two were planted here by mistake, as I though they were in fact Calabrese plants, but they are growing much more strongly than the ones in the cage with the Brussels Sprouts etc so it has worked out for the best

These Cabbages are all Club Root Resistant varieites, as a few years ago, I noticed some Brassicas were wilting in the sun and had deformed roots, so decided it was sensible to give the best chance of growign healthy crops. They all earn their place alright! 

Also in the bed are two different varieties of Kale, both of which should crop through the Winter into next Spring. This is Scarlet Curly Kale.

(There are also three small plants in the polytunnel, to give baby leaves for salad)

And finally is Cavolo Nero Kale, which is extremely versatile and very hardy indeed. This year, plants were cropping right through into March.

Having a few of each Kale not only rings the changes but means no plants are over-cropped and they can continue to grow strongly between harvests

The bed with Kholrabi and Florence Fennel in it has also been weeded. The Kholrabis are developing the round swollen stems I am looking forward to harvesting, but the Florence Fennel, although having plenty of foliage and not yet bolting, has little evidence of bulbing at the base, as yet. Not sure if they will now

The taller Brassica cage is next to be weeded, although when I looked at it this morning that sould be a fairly quick job. More important will be tying the Brussles Sprout and Sproutng bRoccoliplants to their stakes, to keep their roots secure in the ground. This will help grow nice solid sprouts...they don't like having their roots rock about when the wind blows 

The fruit cage is in need of serious attention, but is not a job to tackle in the wind and the wet, so I am hoping the weather improves and can begin to take off growth poking through the netting and so get the net off undamaged, to store it away for next year

The 8m long Lavender hedge along the front fence of #146 hs been cut back, providing masses of material for the compost bin, to mix in with kitchen peelings and weeds. It heated up surprisingly quickly, even during the rainy, chilly weekend

In The Polytunnels This Week:

Having the back doors firmly closed has made a big difference to overnight temperatures, which this week have been closer to 8C rather than 4C. During the day it is nice and snug at the moment

Ongoing clearing up and weeding has meant space to plant out crops for over-Wintering: Mustard Green, Tenderstem Broccoli, Spring Cabbage and Perpetual Spinach

Last year, I planted Broad Beans in amongst the Perpetual Spinach, which worked quite well, so I have left enough space for these. After having absolutely massive Spring Cabbage plants last year, I have gone for Wheeler's Imperial this time, as it is a smaller, neater, pointed cabbage. I have also only planted four rather than six, but shall also plant some outside, to mature a little later. There are enough plants to share too!

The Tarragon plants are now potted up, although they can stay in the polytunnel for a while to settle inot theirpots, before coming ome to the frost free greenhouse

At Home This Week:

The kitchen is currently free of Tomatoes, although there are still a fair few to harvest. A batch of bottled sauce to use in cooking, this time with added Garlic, is now stored away on the shelves in the garage. I did think this would be the last batch , but maybe not ...

It is great ot be able to just open a jar of sauce to add to the pan, perhaps then add further herbs or extra spices, and enjoy the taste of the Summer's tomatoes.  This year I have had a good old clear out along the shelves, making plenty of space for "new stock", but also meaning it is organised to find what I am looking for. Empty jars are easily accessible stored in boxes under the shelves.

I've also re-organised where the Onions and Potatoes are stored, so they are easier to reach without having to move something or other out of the way. Took a fair while to get it all done, but a great improvement all round

I used all those huge beetroot to make Beetroot Relish. This is a new recipe for me, from the Riverford website. The advice is to leave it for a month before using it, but being bit impatient, I found it tastes pretty good right now, both as a relish with cheese and crackers, or with salad, but also swirled into plain yoghourt as a dip. Of course, it may taste even better in a month's time!

I do have a few more giant beetroot, but will look for a different way to use them: good to have a range of preserves to choose from on those garage shelves, and also to give as gifts

Last week's jobs list extends forward . I think at this time in the year it is inevitable, but having the list keeps me focussed and hopefully means nothing important gets missed, so here it is: ( I did manage to cut the Lavender bushes in the front garden, but not the brambles by the greenhouse)

Jobs List This Week

- Brambles!

- Ensure the fruit cage net can be taken off undamaged

- Finish harvesting Potatoes, dry carefully and store in hessian sacks

- Harvest the remaining Winter Squashes and take home to cure skins; clear away old growth and weeds; put away wire mesh from around the bed 

- Plant Autumn Onion sets, Shallots and Garlic

- Plant out Spring Cabbage plants in the bed with Kholrabi and Florence Fennel

- Choose a variety of Cauliflower suitable to sow now, for early cropping next year

- Make Sweet Pepper Relish, Chilli Jelly, Bottled Pears and Nasturtium Pesto (from newly grown leaves)

- Plant out remaining Wallflowers

- Take cutting from Daubenton's Perennial Kale

Sitting here, that all seems achieveable, but of course you never know what else might crop up that takes up time and bumps thinsg down the list

 

One last thing to mention is the new hedghog house, which has a specially designed entrance t prevent foxes or cats from poking their paws in to try to get to any hedgehog inside. It is now stuffed with nice dry straw (Thank you, Pearl) and instlled under the shelter of the low-spredaing Acer branches, near where the Hedgehogs are fed every evening

Hopefully they will be able to explore it in good time for hibernation, and perhaps also use it to temorarily shelter from heav rain

Just though  you might like to see it!

My contact email is

info@alittlebitofsunshine.co.uk

 Comments and suggestions are most welcome, and I shall reply as soon as I can

And if you'd like to know more about Harvest Monday, look at

www.ourhappyacres.com