The Autumn Spring Clean

Today has been all about preparing the garden for Winter. It’s a gentle process and one which takes place over a number of weeks culminating in a slow ebbing away of the delicious summer crops.

The tomato plants queue patiently by the compost bin awaiting their turn to be added to the burgeoning pile of rotting vegetation which grows daily. The odd fruit still clings to the shrivelled stumps. Although, the blight has now taken most of these as October draws ever closer. Having enjoyed fresh tomatoes since mid July, one cannot complain. Four tubs of tomato puree now sit in the freezer from a harvest which was without measure a bumper crop. All my seedlings survived the beast from the East earlier in the year and grew quickly during the long hot weather of June and July!

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I was prepared to lose two or three plants at some point…but when all came through to fruition I was a little overwhelmed by the quantity of harvest which seemed to grow daily!

From here on anything over the next couple of weeks is a bonus – and I have retained my greenhouse plants for now.

The biggest and most arduous task today, however, was the annual green roof trim. I have been truly amazed by the quality of the wildflower matting which I laid in January. It certainly gave a colourful dash to an otherwise redundant spot in the garden. Now – with the wildflower’s spent, it is important to cut back hard to ensure a return of the perennial plants next spring. Fortunately the Sun was shining this afternoon and after a cold start in the morning – it was remarkably warm whilst up on the roof making it a very pleasant task indeed!

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After a bit of clearing I turned my attention to some planting. A rare task at this time of the year but one which I hope will pay dividends in the months to come. In order to ensure a supply of winter salads – I decided to pot up a few planters to overwinter in the greenhouse. This is not something I had the luxury of last year and it will be interesting to see how it goes. At the moment they stand on the patio whilst the weather remains clement – however I intend to move these under cover over the next week or so. Mizuna, mustards, little gem & winter density/ lambs lettuce make up most of the pots. A smattering of spring onions are also thrown in there as a bit of an experiment.  I will keep you all posted on their progress…

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My biggest surprise of the day, though, was on my visit to the local supermarket where I was surprised to see bags of the old apple, Egremont Russet. This is a variety that I am growing as a corden in the raised bed, however, being the first year since planting it has bore only two fruits this year. I therefore bought a pack as a taste test; as a comparison with the garden grown versions. I was intrigued by its complex flavour which is very different to your average apple. The texture being firm but not too crispy, it was also slightly less juicy than the earlier cropping varieties that I have grown such as Scrumptious. On the whole though – I am happy that I have chosen this variety to grow and look forward to a more bountiful supply next year!

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As September wanes; the winter veg start to mature and come into their own. By late afternoon, the garden is often bathed in a beautiful light which seems enhanced by the green translucency of what I have now dubbed Winter corner.

After my potato harvest in June – I planted out a plethora of veg including purple sprouting broccoli, cabbage, leeks and Fennel. All of these will see me through to next Spring and it is remarkable how much can be crammed into such a tiny space. The concept of a double harvest through the year has been a huge learning curve for me but is one which maximises the space I have available. Put simply who needs a big garden when you’ve got this…

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