The autumn equinox is looming: a brief point of balance before we tip over into darker days. There has been more than a hint of mists and mellow fruitfulness in the balmy weather this week.
It seems strange to be spending my days in the classroom again but so exciting to get home and see what progress Roger has made in the garden (he seems to get on far better without me around, I’m sure there’s a moral there somewhere). No sooner had he reverted to Plan A over the siting of the main vegetable garden – at the bottom end of the paddock – than the first patch was marked out, dug over and a row of ‘Casablanca’ garlic planted.
The polytunnel will be going in here, too, but first several large hazel trees need to be removed to make space and let in light. It goes against the grain for us to cut down trees but it’s a necessary sacrifice; besides, we plan to plant hundreds – if not thousands – of trees in the coming years to create an orchard and woodland so hopefully we will be forgiven. At any rate, the wood won’t be wasted but rather split, stacked and left to season. I suspect our rent-a-cat is thinking about cosy winter evenings curled up in front of the woodburner!
A warm, dry Saturday morning and I needed no encouragement to head outside. A steady overnight drizzle, the first rain in weeks, had certainly encouraged the weeds in my kitchen garden patch so there was plenty to do. Despite a poor August, far too many aphids and a plague of caterpillars, things are looking hopeful. At long last, a picking of rocket: this is the first seed-to-plate crop from our new garden so well worth celebrating.
The rainbow chard looks promising, too, and should go on well into winter.
I’d planted rows of ‘Winter Density’ lettuce, radicchio and chervil (all from vegetableseeds.net) a couple of weeks ago and they’re going well; they may need a bit of protection later on but fingers crossed for a good supply of tasty salad stuff.
Our daughter Sarah has given us some ‘babies’ from her Egyptian walking onions and boy, are they growing! Can’t wait to try them out in the kitchen.
Despite the best efforts of weather and pests of all kinds, it looks like we might even have some winter greens. We’re not sure what they are although a few with purplish stalks suggest broccoli. Mmm, I hope so. My father-in-law would call them ‘summer cabbages’ as in ‘summer cabbages. . . and some aren’t!’
It’s been lovely to fill the fruit basket from the garden over the last few weeks. The plums have finished, we ate masses of them raw as well as in spiced crumbles and even had enough for jam. The pear tree is looking happier for being staked upright rather than lying on the ground as we found it – maybe there will be a bigger harvest next year, they have a wonderful flavour.
I don’t know what variety the eating apples are but they are truly delicious.
Here’s a little bonus I spied when hanging out some washing. We’ve never grown raspberries (Roger isn’t a fan) so this will be a new experience and I need to swot up on what to do. The canes are overgrown with weeds but I assume I can cut them back later on, lift them and replant in clean ground.
Our new hens have arrived, three little point-of-lay pullets who seem very happy in their home. Hope it’s not too long before the first eggs appear!
Roger has been busy building walkways to cover the ridiculous amounts of steps here – it’s been hard going trying to get anywhere with a wheelbarrow. The decking still needs some anti-slip netting but is so much better; those plants are waiting to go into the ground but it’s such a sheltered, sunny spot there that I’m planning pots of strawberries, perhaps colourful climbing beans, sunflowers, morning glory . . .
I’ve already started some pots off by the summer house, strawberries and herbs with so much more to follow. I’ve also hung some baskets of pansies for a splash of colour and potted up herbs grown from seed and pots of dwarf daffies which were a house-warming present (thanks, Sarah and Gwyn!).
At some point in the past, vast swathes of this garden have been covered in bark chippings, presumably to smother all growth but now unfortunately a great growing medium for brambles and an alarming amount of bindweed. Clearing it is going to be a nightmare but we have to start somewhere. I’ve started with a patch opposite the kitchen garden, a tricky area under a huge cherry tree where the soil is thin and full of roots.
The plan is to fill it full of wild flowers and cottage garden annuals next spring, it should be great for wildlife and hopefully attract a few pollinators to the important end of things (peas, beans, courgettes, strawberries . . .). I’ve barrowed the bark to the top of the garden and used it to mulch under the soft fruit bushes like this blueberry.
The garden is full of lovely smells. If I could only have one flower it would be honeysuckle, I adore it and our hedgerows are full of it – gorgeous.
The garden roses, too, are wafting wonderful scents in splashes of rainbow colour.
I have no idea what varieties they are except for this stunning ‘Danse de Feu.’
Yes, autumn may be imminent but there’s still plenty of summer in the air. 🙂