First Frost

This morning we woke to the first frost since March, a bit on the nippy side but very beautiful. I couldn’t resist a few minutes round the patch with the camera.

Weather wise generally, it has been a bright and sunny week and I’ve been tidying up the garden, spreading muck everywhere and mulching it down for winter. The globe artichokes have more than doubled in size since they went in, I’ve tucked straw round them and will pull it across the crowns when they eventually die back.

The squash patch has been like a jungle, the squashes trailing everywhere (including several feet up into a hawthorn tree) and the nettles competing in the opposite direction.

 I dug the lot out – finding two ‘bonus’ squashes in the process 🙂 –  but have left the sunflowers as the finches are still picking at the seed. The soil is rich, deep and free-draining in this patch and has a little more shade than the rest of the plot so, with a slight extension and a pile of muck, it’s destined for brassicas next year. I’m a bit embarrassed by the sprawling mess of various compost heaps in this area, tidiness in such things not being my strong point. Along with a better rainwater collection system, it’s something to tackle next year (although that said, the grass snakes love it and there’s some wonderful compost brewing under there…).

I’ve done a bit more clearing in the polytunnel, too, but there’s still plenty left to do when it’s too nasty to be outside. There was a surprising amount of veg left in there, Roger turned them into a delicious Thai green curry which almost blew our heads off – for so-called ‘mild’ chillies, those green ‘Bulgarian Carrot’ are extremely warming to say the least.  I’m beginning to wonder whether growing habeneros next year is such a clever idea?

The poor mutilated chicory plants have been sitting in the dark for a couple of weeks now, I couldn’t resist a peep… mmm, well, they’re doing something.

Tucking into parsnips, carrots and Jerusalem artichokes combined with starchy squashes, we’re not missing spuds at all. The leeks, a mix of ‘Musselburgh’ and ‘Malabar’, have an incredibly strong flavour; the allium family really seems to thrive here once they get going.

The brassicas are fighting back in the absence of caterpillars (who don’t seem to appreciate the cold weather much, can’t say I feel too sorry), both lots of kale are thriving, the red and green cabbages  are hearting up nicely and there’s a rumour that we might even get a few sprouts.

There’s a cheerful little row of chervil, it looks so dainty and fragile but is apparently winter hardy so worth a go outside, surely?

I’m still picking up decent windfall apples although the mistle thrushes and fieldfares are doing their best to beat me to them now. Their clacking calls have been ringing round the orchard all week while the low afternoon sun has been lighting the garden in fiery colours. It’s a shame that autumn can’t stay this lovely…

A quick flit over to Blighty and I’ve come home with all sorts of goodies for lots of winter projects, not least being my pack of voucher seeds – thanks again to  Ben, Camilla and team! Having swapped a few bits and pieces with Sarah, I now have lots to plan and think about for the garden next year. Yippee! (Yes, those are tomatoes – I’m nothing if not an optimist).

I also came home with the gift of an old spinning wheel, it’s something I’ve been angling after for a long time and I’m very thrilled. In some ways, I think spinning fleece is a bit like growing vegetables (bear with me a minute if you’re struggling with this one…) – it’s easy enough to go and buy ready-spun knitting wool or commercially produced veg from a shop, but so much more satisfying to start with the basic materials and follow the whole process through. Harder work and more time-consuming, yes; frustrating as hell occasionally, definitely; but in the end, so rewarding and therapeutic and satisfying. My first yarn looks rather like some of the oddball veg I’ve grown this year: many shades of green, very rustic, definitely non-standard and more than a bit quirky. I’m planning to knit it into a hat for our little grandson Ben on the grounds that he’s too young to be embarrassed.  So, in the dark, wet, cold weeks to come I shall spin away merrily whilst musing about next year’s vegetables and plans for the patch, water butts, tidier compost heaps . . . and sorry, Ben, but everyone needs at least one mad granny. 🙂







2 thoughts on “First Frost

  1. I shall NOT comment enviously on the vegs as don’t want to burst into tears… But you are exactly right about the yarns: was today fingering some in a wool shop (the extended family is clamouring for socks and various double-knit garments that from their description sound like reversible Bayeux tapestries); there was this extraspecial yarn that would give “a hand-knitted look” and was almost double the price of ordinary yarn. Well, I did buy the less special yarn, arguing with myself that my products will anyway have a very hand-knitted look. But only think what price your first yarn with with an exrtaordinarily hand-knitted look!


    • Mmm… on current evidence, I think I may well have worked my way through several sheep before I produce anything of any value BUT we won’t be short of chunky gardening hats! Good luck with your complicated patterns, you obviously have far more knitting patience than me – I opt for those wonderful (cheating) self-patterning sock yarns every time. Happy knitting! 🙂


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