Monday, October 24, 2005

Harvest and the end of the season, the start of the season.

Funny thing gardening, when is the end of the season and the start of the next? To be honest they all blur into one and this time of year is no better than demonstrating this.

Over the last few weeks I have been busy tidying up the second plot, harvesting bits and bobs and getting some crops in for next season.

On the flower front I have cleared the cornflowers/poppies and sunflowers. Only the Chrysanthemums are still on the ground and these windy wet days will see the end of them as well soon. The real hit have been the sunflowers, real wow factor when cut and taken to the house. The chrysanthemums are also great value for money as they last in a vase for at least 10 days.

However they have also been infected by Rust. I first noticed it back in the spring when I was taking this years cuttings to supply new plants. Now some plants are literally leaf less and will be no use for new stock next year. As a result I have decided to start afresh next spring with new stock.

As I have been clearing the spent flowers I have been digging the ground and giving it a dressing of Fish Blood and Bone. I have then been setting out Garlic and Over Winter Onion sets.

I have chosen 3 garlic varieties this year, Purple Wight, Solent Wight and Albigensian Wight. Purple and Solent were planted 22nd of October and the Albigensian was planted on the 23rd of October. The bulbs were very large and I look forward to a decent crop from July next year.

For onions I have opted for senshyu yellow this year, not grown it for some years so will see how we do. Again these were planted on the 22nd of the month.

On the harvest front we continue to pull carrots though the woodlice are having a go at them, only a couple of feet left of the row so will be gone soon. The parsnips are ready but no frost as yet to sweeten them so they will stay in the ground for a while yet, will be interesting to see how smooth the roots are…….

We then come to the brassica’s. The calabrese has now finished and we have been very pleased with the crop, Trixie. Plenty in the freezer. The cauli has also been good, White Excel.

However the sprouts have failed in the main, due to club root. I was told the plot was freeze of the problem but it is not the case. Yesterday I pulled up a row of Trafalgar sprouts as they will come to nothing, the other two rows look Okish but not a huge crop. They are also suffering from white fly, again another reason I would like a frost. Next year I will be taking measures to prevent club root damage such as planting in a whole filled with sterile soil/compost and adding a stick of rhubarb and a bay leaf with lots of lime to the bottom of each hole, we shall see.

The January King cabbages seem to escaped the worst of the attack too so not a total disaster.

In preparation for next year I have also moved a large coldframe to the plot, this is 8 by 4. Currently it houses some winter lettuce and lambs lettuce in grow bags, these should give us an early crop in the new year. It will then be used to harden off new seedlings before going out on the plot.

I am also going to create a couple of raised beds and add a plastic greenhouse. The greenhouse will be tomatoes and chillies and the raised beds will be for beans next year.

However the next big job is to move a couple of trailer loads of horse manure to the site so I can mulch the bare ground over winter. This manure is 3 years old and a lovely dark crumbly mix that not only will add nutrients to the soil but will also improve the heavy structure.

So, as you can see it is still all go as we head into winter.

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