This photo from inside the greenhouse says it all … I was drenched from planting out leeks and spinach. But there were some friendly faces inside:
And a nice view of the apple starting to show life. Note my car keys hanging on the shed door getting very wet! I love those hooks; trowel and fork kitch from Wilco 🙂
Grappling painfully to put together a new steel potting bench (of course I didn’t have the correct size of spanner), I found myself drawn into a frenzy of displacement activity; clearing the back of the shed area. It had become a sort of general dumping ground and looked thoroughly disreputable, not helped by all the old autumn leaves lying about and debris left from the tree work some weeks ago.
I tend to go at such things like a bull at a gate. Some hours later I emerged, filthy and exhausted, but it was worth it!
I have also finally completed the new big plot, the final touch being to top the paths with beautiful beech leaf mould from the garden at home.
I’ve also managed to get the onion sets planted: Rose de Roscoff and Snowball. The Faulds parsley seems to be coming back but not growing on so I suspect Mr Pigeon has been enjoying a treat. Not any more, thanks to my lovely glass cloches, washed today.
It took me all day to remove a further infestation of willowherb from around the fruit cage. It’s a devil of a job as the little rosettes of green are underpinned by a dense network of tiny fibrous roots which also have to be dealt with. It was not ideal timing as the ground is still claggy from all the recent rain, but I wanted to plant some new bare root raspberries (Tulameen & Joan J) and a jostaberry so needed to clear the ground first.
Awkward work, and required some pretty agile activity around the gooseberry prickles – but all done now and I’ve instated a pathway through the area that should make it easier to pick the autumn raspberries which become a bit of a jungle. The standard gooseberry is doing fine, despite its rather unbecoming support system necessitated some years ago by its collapse due to a massive load of fruit.
My Christmas presents happily included the services of a tree surgeon to remove the overhanging tangle of trees, mostly goat willow overgrown with ivy. They have long overshadowed the shed end of the plot and meant the greenhouse was nearly always in shade and everything thick with drifting fluff from spring catkins. The council have kindly given permission to have these lopped, leaving the cuttings for wildlife habitat. Today was the day!
Here is the scene this morning, before and then after:
In the highest tree we found a squirrel’s drey, thankfully not yet occupied by young. So beautifully built, snug and dry inside.
My old wellington boots, much loved and at least 20 years old, had been leaking for some time, despite bicycle tyre repairs. They were standard old-fashioned Hunter Argylls so simple enough, you would think, to replace. Not if you have small feet! For some reason I cannot fathom, ‘they’ stopped making them in a size 4 some time ago. I searched for ages for a suitable replacement to no avail, reluctant to go for boots I liked less than my old ones (fussy about wellies? yes, I am :0) Eventually I had a brainwave and scoured the internet for traditional rural shops that might have some old stock hidden away and sent off many supplicatory emails. Bingo! A dear man called Neil at Totally Wellies in north Yorkshire came to my rescue and we’re back in business.
Raining as it has been for so long, wellies were certainly required for the annual delivery of compost, this year by a nice cheerful chap. Several more journeys up and down with my wheelbarrow will be needed but it should all be done this weekend.
As I was pondering how to fit in more planting this year, I realised that consolidating all the raised beds on one side into one large plot would not only create more growing space but also reduce the amount of path mowing. I’m very pleased and have been collecting lots of cardboard to put on the now redundant grass paths before mulching well – in true no-dig manner. It will make quite a difference and, I hope, avoid the unhappy dilemma of what to leave out.
Then before heading home, I felt rather smug to be able to harvest a good handful of salad leaves from the greenhouse for my lunch.
Getting ready for tomorrow’s meal, I was pleasantly surprised how much there was to harvest. The menu will therefore include a fennel, leek, walnut and roquefort soufflé tart, celeriac and parsnip gratin, roast beetroot, sauteed oca and crosnes with buttered flower sprouts and cavolo nero – with a garnish of carrot slaw and winter salad leaves.
flower sprouts & cavolo nero
oca and crosnes
winter greens from greenhouse
carrots, fennel, leeks, celeriac, kohl rabi and various beets
parsnips and jerusalem artichokes
After moving the bean tepee from the asparagus bed and weeding the chard & chicory, I continued on with the florence fennel & clearing triffid-like nasturtiums.
Curious to see what had happened to the crosnes I planted a couple of years ago, I poked about under the uninspiring now-dead foliage and found a great network of white fibrous roots decorated with pearly shell-like little tubers. Look like they could be a bit of an invasive problem but probably worth keeping. They will take some cleaning but I recall them being delicious when first encountered at The Pig restaurant in the New Forest, so will try them sautéed in butter.
Following the tuberous theme, I then went to investigate the Oca and found these little orangey red poppets just below the oxalis look-alike foliage. Not sure they are worth the space they take up, but for now will focus on a tuberous supper of mixed sauteed pearls.
Such a lovely job to shell out the beautiful beans, some for drying and some for now …
simmered gently with aromatics from the huerto – onion, carrot, garlic, sage & rosemary:
I was late in sowing winter salads for the greenhouse. Had meant to get everything done in early September but life intervened. Then, when I did have time, my Gardening by the Moon calendar said that these were Bad Days!
I decided to stick to the principles and wait for a Good Day (i.e. a waxing crescent moon). And as I was planting salads, I decided to wait an extra 24 hours for an auspicious day for sowing leaf crops – 25th September. Hmmmm. Part of me did feel a bit silly, waiting on when I was already late in the month for seed sowing, the days becoming shorter and shorter. Easy to be sceptical.
Well! Returning from a few days away, I called in to the plot on the 28th to water the seed boxes and was amazed to find germination in most of them – after just four days.
The foliage in front of the trays in the top photo is a happy flourish of Frances’s Choice, the open source seed I got from the remarkable Dr Alan Kapuler in Oregon. I had had very poor results with it and had quite forgotten I’d planted a sickly seedling in the greenhouse. This had then been completely overgrown by the bullying achocha ‘Fat Baby’ all summer yet has leaped into flourishing activity in the 2 weeks since the achocha was relegated to the compost and is now huge and budding happily!