in The Polytunnels This Week:

With temperatures at night being down to 4.5C, it was definitely time to close the back doors of the tunnels and return them to two separate, cosier spaces, hopefully enabling a few more Cucumbers to develop and the remaining Cherry Tomatoes to ripen a bit more

The Chinese Red Noodle Beans made a last minute run for the line, and rather than waste the whole crop (the pods have not really been to my liking) I cu them all to dry whatever beans might be ripe, as I can eat them tha way instead. As I think I said, I'll use the space for something more palatable next year. I have taken all the bean stems off the net, so will most likely use it for Cucumbers next year

I have had a good clear up all round, taking off a lot of the Tomato plant growth to improve air circulation for the last few larger fruits, and pulling out as much of the chickweed as I can before it sets seed again. It has been rampant this year, so I hope this keep it down a bit next Summer. Good addition to the compost bin though!

Tunnel No 1 has  the Tomatoes, Cucumbers Peppers, Chillies ,Malabar Spinach and Kholrabi, whilst No2 has PSB, Scarlet Curly Kale, Perpetual Spinach, Mustard Greens, Tenderstem Broccoli, Spring Cabbage, Beetroot, Turnips, Spring Onions, Parsley, Celery and a single Courgette plant. 

 

September 2020

At Home This Week:

I am now no longer drowning in Tomatoes, and the brief Cucumber glut is now finished, as are Blackberries and Green Beans so I have spent far less time on preserving crops this week. It will be good to finally put away the last remaining empty jars, and add the final few filled ones to the shleves in the garage. I did mange to take off all the old and unwanted items before I went away, and I am gradully emptying and washing these jars for future use. It is a bit hard on the wrists, but i shall press on this week as much as I can

The Sharifa Asma rose alongside the garage is putting on a last show of flowers for this year, looking very pretty in the sunshine. It wo't be many more days before the sun cease to reach this part of the garden again until next year, so I am enjoying it while i can

I didn't manage to cut back the brambles behind the greenhouse before I went away, and one or two branches are starting to sway dangerously across the top, so it will have to be high on the list this week before it becomes a major job yet again. They really are a nuisance but I shall never get rid of them, just try my best to keep them under some semblance of control. I noticed one  waving out across the pond just now too!

 

This little area also catches the early morning sun, which shows the colours off a treat, one of the last looks of Summer in the garden now really, making it all the more special

 

Jobs List for this weeK:

- sow seeds of Autumn Onions in the area already prepped for them (Shenyu Yellow)

- use up the last of the large tomatoes with a final batch of bottled sauce

- cut back the Lavender both at home and on the plots

- dig up the last of the Potatoes

- transplant the seedlings of Tenderstem Broccoli , Spring Cabbage, Perpetual Spinach and Mustard Greens, in the polytunnel

- continue cutting out old leaves and straggly growth on the Tomato plants in the polytunnel; remove plants outside that have finished fruiting (add to compost bin)

- weed the orchard area

-  (wth help!) take out the P arundinacea invading the triangular flower bed and prepare soil for wall flowers

- take cuttings from the Daubenton's Perennial Kale and plant into the seed bed for rooting

- weed the two Brassica beds, and tie Brussels Sprout and Purple Sprouting BRoccoli plants to their stakes

- clear out the Squash bed and bring remaining fruits home to fully dry off

- make a start on pruning the bushes in the fruit cage

Always sounds a lot, but at this time in the year I do like to get as much done as possible while their is still a little bit of warmth in the sun and in the soil. I'll let you know how much gets achieved!

 

 

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

7th September - Autumn is lurking in the wings, and end-of-season crops are coming into their own, so Harvest Monday, has a bit of variation on the theme of Tomatoes and Blackberries. First to the table this week is a selection of vegetables for stir -fry last Saturday evening.

Pak Choi has done well in the polytunnel. Flea beetles stayed away and they have developed some good crisp hearts. Planting out the thinnings has staggered the crops somewhat too

Celery is another of this year's success stories, both for me and for several other plot holders. Although the stems are thin, they are very juicy indeed and the plants themselves have now grown into largish clumps. Not sure if they will stand over Winter in the tunnel, so might have to use it up fairly quickly

Green and yellow Climbing Beans have been productive for weeks, and although the main glut is now past, there are still enough for a picking two or three times a week

Mooli has grown really quickly from a mid-Summer sowing, and has a fierce spiciness eaten raw, which does mellow out a bit when they are cooked. This one has been cut in half as it was so big

Carrots are still plentiful, and are so versatile they are on the menu several times each week. There are lots still in the ground, and unless there are ravages from rodents, will sit there happily for months to come

Courgettes have been a bit hit and miss here this year, but one arrives every so often and is always put to good use!

Green Peppers are from a branch that broke, but are large enough to be crisp, juicy and full of flavour

Cucumbers are coming into their own at last, and so there amy be enough jars of Dill PIckles to last the Winter after all! The plants' stems are quite long now, so I have tied them across the roof bars of the polytunnel so the fruit will not drag on the path at all. Lots of small fruits developing, which is good to see.

Some of the Main Crop Potatoes were ready to dig up, so ably assisted by Kitty and Indigo, two of my Not-Do-Midget Gems, here are some of last week's diggings. Bonnie grew in a large tub, and Kifli in the ground. Kifli is a new variety for me, grown as I liked a the flavour of one a friend gave me: a waxy, salad-style potato that keeps well. I only planted four tubers, and the crop is very good indeed. Large tubers, with reasonable skins, and plenty of them too. All that watering during the hot dry weather seems to have paid off!

They all had a good wash before taking them home, and after time to dry, sitting on the floor in the dining room, will be stored in the garage in hessian sacks

  • Bonnie

  • KIfli

The Damsons on my plot tree were perfectly ripe, and just right for making some Hedgerow Jam, together with some Blackberries and small green Apples The Damsons were certainly very high in pectin, as the jam set almost as soon as it came to a rolling boil. Just as well I was watching it or I would have had a pan full of toffee!

The Pear crop this year overall is not that good, but the small Comice tree had some nice fruits. This tree has mysteriously lost its fruit around this time in the year for the past two years (it is near to my plot fence) so this year I picked them early. Some will be used for Pickled Pears to eat at Christmastime, and some will be bottled in syrup

The first two or three were cooked with Blackberries in our temporary Plot kitchen, to eat after lunch that day, and very good they were!

Another "First" for this year are some Spagna Blanco Beans, which I have grown for drying. Some pods had already dried on the plants, so I thought I had better pick them before they were eaten by squirrels. I did only grow a few plants, and there are still both green pods and flowers on them,s so the harvest shoud  be increasing as time goes on. 

I also have Black Valentine Beans drying on a tray at home, so once they are podded I shall show you what they are like

Other crops this week have included Beetroot, Tomatoes, the last of the Sweetcorn, and Bramley Apples, Basil and Mint

On The Plots This Week:

The temporary Plot Kitchen was, on the whole, a successful addition to day out with the girls, although having the ring pull break off the can of baked beans reduced the menu somewhat. Sausages and eggs cooked outside still tasted good, and of course the pudding of stewed Blackberries and Pears, whilst a little on the sharp side, soon disappeared, washed down with Mint tea. One we were less keen to repeat was the Nettle & Basil tea, which was declared a bit like drinking pasta!

The developing Forest Garden took a turn for the better, as I can now visualise what it is moving towards, The two large areas of weedy composted bark are now becoming two large flower beds, by removing adjoining bed edges and creating a winding path leading through both spaces. One half is now done, planted with self sown Forget-me-nots, alongside the existing Muscari, some pink Primroses that were languishing at home and lots of Wallflowers transplanted from the seedbed. There is space for a deep bed of Wild Garlic too, the every present Fennel and Flat leafed Parsley, as well as some Aquilegia and lots of Foxgloves. I have lots od surplus ssmall Crocosmia at home that can be added in later in the year too, pretty tangerine coloured ones. Seeds to sow too, such as Honesty and Viola

I'll take a photo in the week so you can see it so far... certainly looks much better than this time last year for sure! 

Adjoining this area is a Strawberry bed mulched with wood chip, which some years is very prolific. The main Strawberry crop though, comes from the plants up on the Strawberry Table, out of reach of rodents and netted against bird predation. I have gradually been renewing these plants, and this week transplanted soen year-old ones from the ground around our seating area into troughs, up on the Table. They are good healthy plants so should flower well next year. Free plants too, as they grew from runners last year

The large Brassica cage sustained some wind damage last week: this is now repaired seem sturdy enough to last the Winter. It was a good opportunity to weed that bed and remove any yellowing leaves too

These Rosemary Beetles were sitting sunning themselves on one of the wooden slats on the Table, and looked beautiful gleaming in the sunshine. Although they are a pest, so far they have not caused significant damage, so I let them be

Update on the enormous fat rabbit... unable to trap it as I think it is too fat to get in the trap. There have been three big earthworks/excavations nearly 60cm deep in one case. Once all the herbage has been cut back/cleared, perhaps , together with some friends, she can be chased out of one of the gates! NOT impressed...

In the Polytunnels This Week:

The Perpetual Spinach, Spring Cabbage, Tenderstem Broccoli,Giant Red Mustard and Winter Radish are all up, and hopefully will grow quite quickly in the sheltered warmth, although the temperature one night last week was down to 6C, which was a bit of a shock at this time in the year! The net covering between the two tunnels was torn in the recent storm, so one end of each tunnel is really now completely open: it won't be long before these back doors have to be closed and the tunnels revert to being separate again. One of the four long beds will be covered over for a Winter rest: I know which this will be so am avoiding now planting or sowing any new crops in that spot

Tomato production is slowing, as are the Aubergines, Chillies are starting to ripen, and the Cucumber plants at last stepping up production. Those Chinese Red Noodle Beans, whilst interesting, have really not provided enough beans to be worthwhile growing for anything except novelty value, and they are now beginning to drop their leaves too. I shall use the space for something more productive next year

I am certainly not winning the war against the Brassica whitefly, so I am going to spray them with very dilute Neem oil suspended in soapy water, three times at three day intervals. Please let that do the job. It is not just the flies that are a nuisance, but the black mould growing on leaves, growing on their exudations, which not only looks awful but reduce the effectiveness of the leaves. We shall see!

At Home This Week:

Most of my time has been spent in the kitchen, making a range of bottled Tomato Sauces, Fruit Jam and Bottled Apple Sauce, Damson Gin, cakes and vegetable pakoras.

 PS The jar not quite full is in the fridge to be used first, fear not!

  • Sweet & Sour Cook-in Sauce

  • Apple Sauce

I have one more batch of Mixed Tomato Chutney in mind, maybe more dehydrated Tomaotes, and some Chilli Jelly for this coming week

 The Jobs List has varied a bit, with bits being added, such as the Forest Garden work, having the two Perennial Wallflower plant up and die on me (The seller is sending two more) and spending a considerable amount of time discussing Self management proposals from the Local Council with other plot holders in preparation for a meeting yesterday, when a large number of plot holders voted for dealing with the waiting list and the on-site waste ourselves. Big changes afoot there then!

I have however cleaned and bagged up (labelled) all the saved seeds so far: Honesty, Cornflower, Nigella, Mallow, Hollyhocks, Aquilegia, Parsnip and Perennial Kale)

The biggest job oustanding is pruning the fruit bushes and removing the fruit cage net, but that can wait for a week or two with no harm done, which is just as well

I also decided against planting more French beans, as I have plenty still growing, and will sow overwintering Peas (rather than Sugar Snaps) for the polytunnel. I am away next week on a Fishing holiday with my brother, so have jobs essential to do before then:

Jobs LIst:

- Cut the grass at home and at the plot

- Remove spent Tomato plants etc from the pots in the drive and plant up with flowers (plants are ready) Take waste to the allotment to compost. amd empty home compost buckets

- pick all ripe and part ripe Tomatoes, including any at home, and ripe Beans. Share these if unable to use them. Pick any Bramley Apples still on the tree and store in fridge

-  Hoe over the bed where Shallots etc will be planted and cover temporarily to suppress further weed growth

- GIve the beds in the polytunnel a really good soak

- two lots of Neem oil spray on Brassicas in the tunnel, plus those outside if can possibly squeeze the time

-put the Potatoes away in their sacks

- Tomato Chutney, Chilli Jelly and Pickled Pears

And that will have to do!!

If i have wifi I shall post next week, and you'll see how much of this I actually manage to complete!!

 

 

And here to finish is a Red Admiral Butterfly feeding on a rotting plum... thought you might enjoy the face-on view. They do get a bit dopey when full of fermented pum juice...this one sat on my arm for ages after his feast!

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