brussels sprouts
Vegetable Garden

It’s Funny How Tastes Change

As a child I hated Brussels sprouts. With a screwed up face I’d gingerly chew in slow motion, desperately thinking of a way to avoid swallowing the evil things. Of course they were in my mouth far longer than they should have been, so I’d end up gagging, mouth foaming with different shades of sprouty green. There were probably lots of tears too, followed by pitiful wailing in the hope mum would spare me.

Fast forward lots of years and I absolutely adore sprouts now. I grow them, cook them and happily eat them, especially raw straight off the plants. I can almost hear my inner child spewing. I admit I also pushed sprouts on our kids, but I think most parents introduce their children to these ‘yucky’ green balls at some point. Our daughter likes them now as a young adult but our teenage son is probably scarred for life.

brussels sprouts

I’m picking the first sprouts of the season now, ‘Seven Hills’ is a rare sprout that is almost extinct which makes them even more delicious! I got my seeds from Real Seeds if you’d like to give them a go next year.

Vegetable Garden

What’s Growing On In November?

I realise I haven’t done a monthly ‘What’s Growing On’ post for such a long time. Here we are in November, the kitchen garden a very different scene to my post back in March.

Apart from the winter veg, most of the veg beds are tired. Gone are the fresh greens and flower buds of summer, crispy brown foliage and weedy soil greets me now. Our pallet bins produced dark and crumbly compost over many months, I still find this a joyous thing! This fresh compost will soon top each bed as it becomes empty and weed-free, making a nutritious winter blanket.

The summer and tender crops may be over but there’s still plenty of food available in our veg garden.

We’re currently harvesting the following:

  • Carrot ‘Autumn King’
  • Parsnip ‘Gladiator’
  • Kale ‘Nero di Toscana’
  • Brussels sprouts ‘Seven Hills’
  • Beetroot ‘Boltardy’ and ‘Sanguina’
  • Tomato ‘Ruby’ (greenhouse, mostly green fruits now)
  • Chillies ‘Hot Orange Wonder’,  ‘Cayenne’ and ‘Razzamatazz’ (greenhouse)
  • Runner bean ‘The Czar’, planted late July (A recent frost has now stopped the plants)
  • Fennel
  • Perpetual spinach
  • Potatoes
  • Alpine strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Nasturtium flowers and leaves for salads (the frost survivors!)

We’re planning to plant the following:

  • Garlic ‘Red Duke’
  • Broad bean ‘Claudia Aquadulce’

We’re patiently waiting to eat the following:

  • Sprouting broccoli ‘ Early Purple’
Early Purple sprouting broccoli growing well. This crop takes FOREVER and requires quite a bit of growing space, but so worth it for food from the garden during the bleakest of months.
backlit, psb
PSB backlit in autumn sunshine. Hopefully this will be ready for picking early next year.

Fruit bushes such as blackcurrants will be pruned now by removing old wood leaving the younger shoots for fruiting next year. I plan to move a couple of young bushes to a permanent position this month.

November is a month of tidying finished crops, weeding, composting and feeding the soil.

Vegetable Garden

A Touch of Frost

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There was a real nip to the air this morning. A light blanket of frost arrived overnight as predicted, the veg garden looked so pretty twinkling in the morning sun but I was a bit sad to see the first casualties. Nasturtiums are always the first to go when a frost arrives in our garden, frost is so pretty but so damaging too.

Parsnip and strawberry leaves crumpled and twisted, unlike nasturtium they’ll soon bounce back as the sun melts the frost away.

The Czar runner beans are still looking good, along with Cosmos flowers. The frost wasn’t harsh enough to claim them just yet.

The chickens were reluctant to leave their coops early this morning, it’s been so mild here this cool snap was a shock to them along with all the blasted fireworks going off during the night. I’m a real bah humbug when it comes to fireworks.

The sun is shining again, I’ll be off out in the garden soon to pick the last of the greenhouse tomatoes, Czar runner beans for freezing and lifting more potatoes before the real frosts come calling.

gardening, chickens
Vegetable Garden

A Quick Autumn Tidy Up

We did a spot of autumn tidying in the veg garden this afternoon. The weather has been so lovely and mild for the time of year and the garden still looks so green and full of life.

I really struggle to pull things out before the first autumn frost has a chance to claim its victims. We did just enough tidying to make life easier for when colder weather does finally arrive but not too much tidying, frogs and toads are still active in the garden and they need areas of cover. I’m not ready to put the garden to bed just yet.

Beds that lay empty were weeded and topped with compost for planting garlic and sowing hardy broad beans next month, we covered them over for now with pieces of chicken wire (held down with bricks) to prevent cats from ‘using’ them. We picked yet more beans for drying and storing and Rich cut down tired runner bean vines to add to the compost bins. There’s always a hen or two around to help out.gardening, chickens

The light started to fade very quickly due to clocks going back an hour, before long we were putting tools away in the shed and locking the chicken coops. Still, it was nice to be out in the autumn sunshine.

Vegetable Garden

Bringing in the Beans

One of my garden jobs this month has been picking beans and bringing them in to shell. We grew 6 different climbing bean varieties this year, each were chosen for their interesting looks, cropping times and versatility. Us Brits usually pick our beans young and small eating them pod and all while tender, but older tough pods can be shelled when the beans inside have actually grown. Used in this way there’s no waste and they can be cooked fresh or dried for storing.

Three of the varieties grown were runner beans; Polestar, The Czar and Greek Gigantes. Runners are usually prolific croppers and so I realise this seems rather a lot for the average size family to keep up with, but we’re after lots of beans for shelling and storing. Once the inevitable happens and the beans become large and stringy, simply open them up and cook the fat beans without their jackets on. Left to dry the shelled beans can be stored for many months and used in hearty autumn and winter dishes. Don’t forget to save some seed for sowing the following year. Scarlet-flowering runners have the most amazing pink and deep purple splashed beans, they almost seem unreal. Such a shame they turn brown when cooked. White-flowering varieties produce white beans, such as The Czar which produces large beans with a butter bean flavour.

A little tip for growing runners, they are vigorous and heavy, particularly so towards the end of the season when laden with all those beans. Growing them on sturdy A-frames will help to avoid toppling over during blustery weather. Cut them all down and bring them inside before the first frosts arrive.

Our old favourite Borlotti made the list again this year, the pink splashed pods glow in the summer sun and the beans inside are just as beautiful. We always allow the beans to dry for storing, they have a slightly sweet yet buttery flavour. I find soaking them in cold water overnight speeds up the cooking process.

Two varieties we’ve never grown before, Cherokee Trail of Tears (small black bean, very striking and looks great in the garden) and Coco Sophie (round white bean) did rather well too. Not quite as heavy cropping as the other beans but plenty for winter use.

Beans are fully dry when the pods turn brown and are dry and crispy to the touch. Bring your beans inside to dry out if the weather is wet and damp for a prolonged period. Store dried beans in jars and containers with airtight lids, somewhere cool and dry such as a larder cupboard.

Vegetable Garden

Half a Year of Gardening

In early summer just after my last blog post I ended up in hospital having surgery I wasn’t fully expecting. For some time I haven’t been well enough to tend to my beloved vegetable garden, after the surgery I wasn’t physically able to and then came horrid medication that upset my body, mind and mood, and well, I fell into some kind of depression.

The chickens were cared for but the garden had to pretty much fend for itself. Rich did his best but he’d be the first to admit he isn’t the gardener around here. The greenhouse contents and outside pots were watered and the grass cut. And so the courgettes turned to marrows, strawberries and blackcurrants pretty much fed the birds and fat pea pods withered and wilted in the summer heat. But all was not lost, my haphazard planting style as well as using ground covering edible flowers kept the weeds at bay, our pumpkins and squashes finally got going after many failed attempts and quickly swamped the ground (and eventually the lawn), drowning out light to weeds in their path. Some varieties didn’t show up to the party at all, such as the butternuts which is a real shame because they’re used so much in our kitchen.

In fact, there were many successes this year such as beans. So many beans. I’m positively beaming about that. It has to be the best year ever for beans. We have some pumpkins and squash to show for our efforts and autumn raspberries have been amazing this year, doubling in size over the plot. We grew the best carrots to date, absolute whoppers with no damage thanks to companion planting with onions. Our sunflowers grew so tall they toppled over, at least there’s plenty of food for the birds. Again.

Despite being neglected for half the year the veg garden has been very forgiving, and most generous. I have a long road ahead of me with my diagnosis of severe endometriosis. There’s no cure, even hysterectomy isn’t a guarantee of living pain-free at this stage of the disease. It’s a very common but still very misunderstood condition, the time taken for diagnosis is sadly too long for many women. I’ll leave this post on a positive…. I’m off to see a specialist next week, fingers crossed I can get this under some sort of control.

Vegetable Garden

Rhubarb Jam

The Garden Smallholder

Rhubarb

If you’re growing an early rhubarb variety such as Timperley Early, chances are you’re already looking for rhubarb recipes. If you forced it during December / January, it’s probably coming out of your ears! If not, sit tight and wait patiently for your rhubarb to catch up. And it will.

I adore rhubarb jam, it’s not for everyone but if you love jam and of course rhubarb then you really must give this jam recipe a try. I’ve just finished using my last jar from the batch I made last spring, so now I’m itching to make more.

rhubarb jam

Rhubarb Jam (makes approximately 4-5 jars depending on size)

1 kg rhubarb (forced or unforced stems)

850g jam sugar

Cut the rhubarb stems into inch pieces, add sugar and rhubarb pieces in layers to a large pan. Leave the pan overnight to allow the rhubarb juices and sugar to combine to make a syrup…

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Vegetable Garden

How I Support Peas

The Garden Smallholder

growing peas

I love seeing peas scrambling up natural pea sticks, tiny tendrils stretching out, curling tightly around their rustic support like miniature green springs. However, when it comes to supporting taller and heavier cropping peas (‘Blauwschokker’ for example), sometimes a sturdier or taller form of support is needed. Using several long bamboo canes and pieces of chicken or welded mesh wire, I fashion together support structures that have served me well for many years, even through gales. Unlike netting, wire mesh is safer for wild birds, so it gets a big thumbs up from me.

peas

Measure out the area that you wish to use for planting, then cut your wire to fit using wire cutters making sure it’s at least 5 ft high. Take a cane and pass it through one of the lower holes of the wire at one end, repeat again somewhere in the middle and one last time near the top. Leave…

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Vegetable Garden

What’s Growing On In March?

I’m a bit late with this post but better late than never! What’s growing on in our kitchen garden this month?

Timperley Early rhubarb never fails to produce as early as March, feeding us well into summer. Right now our patch of rhubarb is looking fantastic with big healthy leaves and green stems flushed with red.

The plum trees are beginning to blossom, tight buds of green with a smidge of white peeking through, with apple and pear trees a few weeks behind. Of all the fruit blossom pink apple flowers are my favourite.

This year we’re growing ‘Wizard’ field beans, a smaller more robust relative of broad beans. We didn’t have the seed in time to sow in autumn, we sowed the seeds in February and they’re growing well under the tunnel cloches. They will catch up.

New raspberry cane growth basking in the sun, it appears we’re in for a bumper crop this year!

First sowing of peas are carried out undercover in the greenhouse to prevent rotting and mice theft. Four varieties this year, heirloom and rare types: Champion of England, Rosakrone, Golden Sweet (mangetout type with purple flowers and lemon yellow pods) and Lord Leicester. These will be planted out soon after hardening off and covered over in fleece should a frost arrive. Also growing happily in the greenhouse are seedlings of nasturtium, cosmos, beetroot and calendula (to be planted out in clumps).

The garlic looks very different to the February What’s Growing on post, variety Red Duke’. It appears to grow low and stumpy to start with but soon puts on lots of top growth as the weather warms, growing to quite a height before harvest.

Some of my favourite herbs growing strong, bronze fennel and French tarragon.

Gooseberry and blackcurrant bushes are bursting into leaf, shining beautifully in the sunlight.

I planted our second early potatoes today, ‘Charlotte’ remains a firm favourite!We’re growing ‘Pink Fir Apple’ this year too, these will go out in the next week or so.

Vegetable Garden

Pick of the Crop, Our Choice of Garlic to Grow

red duke garlic

Red Duke Garlic is a heritage variety with fierce and spicy flavour, it originates from Moravia, Czech Republic and appears to do well in the UK climate. Attracted initially to the colour and the idea that it may do well in our kitchen garden, we liked it so much we included it in our growing plans again for this year. Here’s a run down of our experience of growing this variety:

red duke garlic

  • Red Duke garlic produces very thick leaves and stems, thicker than any other garlic we’ve grown. With this in mind and to avoid disease from overcrowding, do not plant this variety too close together, 16-18cm apart should be fine.
  • The leaves really bulk out and cast a lot of shade resulting in fewer weeds. Result!
  • Red Duke is a hardneck variety, expect to see scapes in summer – lovely in a stir fry!
  • Good resistance to rust, only a few spots found on leaves just before harvest.
  • No sign of fungal/rot problems on the bulbs at harvest, nice clean bulbs.
  • Bulbs varied in size producing more large than small, approx 6/7 large cloves per bulb.
  • Thick covering of white skin after drying properly, because of this Red Duke stores surprisingly well for a hardneck. We still have useable bulbs from last years crop.
  • Lovely strong and spicy flavour.

There’s still time to pop some Red Duke garlic in if you didn’t get around to it during autumn.

Vegetable Garden

What’s Growing On In February?

Just a quick catch up to show what’s growing in our kitchen garden this month.

img_2255timperleyearlyrhubarbblog

The patch of early rhubarb is romping away nicely, depending on the weather we may be pulling the first stems as early as March.  img_2257timperleyearlyrhubarbblog

Rhubarb from the ground up, this angle of photography really shows the stems in their full rhubarby glory.img_2166reddukegarlicblog

Rows of garlic are peeking through the soil now, the variety is Red Duke which we grew last year with success. Half of the rows are bought-in seed garlic from the same supplier and the other half are saved seed garlic.

I’ve started to notice the delicious scent of blackcurrant as I brush past the fruit bushes, leaf buds are beginning to swell so it won’t be long before they burst open. The herb patch is in a sheltered position with chives, French tarragon, lavender, sage and garlic chives all having fresh new growth at the base.

Seed sowing:

At the moment we have one variety of chillies that have all germinated, with another still to show. These are Rich’s babies so I will have to ask him what they are and update the post when I know! EDIT: ‘Hot Orange Wonder’ (germinated) and ‘Razzamatazz’.

chilli seedlings

We plan to sow ‘Ruby’ tomato (heirloom red tomato from Bulgaria), ‘Bleu De Solaise’ leek (a traditional French variety), brassicas and old-fashioned mix sweet pea over the weekend.

Vegetable Garden

How to Prune Autumn Fruiting Raspberry Canes

The Garden Smallholder

Autumn fruiting raspberries should be cut down to ground level to in February or March to encourage fresh growth Autumn fruiting raspberries should be cut down to ground level to in February or March to encourage fresh growth

An allotment visit was needed today to cut the autumn fruiting raspberry canes down. Autumn raspberry varieties fruit on the current years growth, cutting all canes down to ground level during February or March helps to direct energy where it’s needed, encouraging fresh new growth (canes) from the base. The new canes will eventually bear fruit in late summer/autumn.

Cut each cane a couple of inches above ground level. Cut each cane a couple of inches above ground level.

This is how your row of autumn fruiting raspberries should look after pruning This is how your row of autumn fruiting raspberries should look after pruning

It was quite cold in the wind and raining on and off, apart from one other plot holder we were the only ones there.

Here’s a reminder on how and when to prune summer raspberries https://thegardensmallholder.wordpress.com/2011/09/07/tiding-summer-fruiting-raspberry-canes/

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Vegetable Garden

Flurry of Snow

snow on watering can

A light covering of snow arrived early this morning. I was mucking out the chickens at the time, watching their reaction to the strange-looking threat falling from the sky. I did find it amusing, it’s the first time these particular hens have seen snow.

After finishing the chicken chores I grabbed my camera and took some photos.

snow on the kitchen garden rhubarb in the snow

Our dog wanted to take part in the snow photo shoot….german shepherd

Within a couple of hours it stopped snowing, anything that did settle melted away by early afternoon.

Grow Your Own Guides, Vegetable Garden

How to Force Rhubarb

rhubarb forcer
If you’d like to get an earlier crop of rhubarb now is a good time to force it. Choose an  established rhubarb in your garden and simply cover the crown with a forcing jar, upturned dustbin or very large pot. Doing this creates a dark and warm environment inside, forcing the stems into premature growth. Restricted light creates baby pink stalks which taste less tart and not as fibrous, ready approximately 8 weeks after covering.
forced rhubarb stemsHowever, once you force a crown you should allow it to crop naturally the following year (preferably two years of recovery), forcing it year after year could seriously weaken it. Before forcing, be sure to clear away the area around the base of the crown, removing decaying leaves and weeds to avoid the rhubarb crown rotting. Add a mulch of homemade compost or well-rotted manure to give a boost of nutrients.

Timperley Early rhubarb beginning to grow in winter

A tip is to grow 3 crowns (providing you have the space), allow one to recover from being forced the previous year, force one and let the other crop naturally, when it should. A good variety for forcing is Victoria.
rhubarb january
Timperley Early rhubarb in our kitchen garden 8th January 2017
Our favourite rhubarb variety to grow is ‘Timperley Early’, it starts cropping naturally as early as March. If you grow this variety you have to get a wiggle on and force it earlier than other varieties to produce an earlier crop, usually December for cropping in February. As you can see, our young crowns (planted last year) are already well on their way to producing some fine stalks! They’re not established enough to start forcing them yet, it’ll be another year or two before we can use the forcing jars on them.
Vegetable Garden

Our Favourite Carrot Variety

 

carrots

There are so many lovely carrot varieties to grow (and we’ve grown quite a few of them over the years!) including unusual heritage types of many colours. However, our all time favourite carrot to grow that feeds us over a long season is ‘Autumn King’. This particular maincrop variety always does well for us, roots can be lifted from late summer through into winter. We like to thin seedlings for sweet tender carrots (perfect in salads) and leave the rest to mature into large thick roots.

Rich pulling carrots in the kitchen garden today
Rich pulling Autumn King carrots in the kitchen garden today, doesn’t he look happy?!

Autumn King appears to have some resistant to carrot fly too, wherever we’ve grown them they come out of the ground with minimum damage right through to winter. Deep, well-drained soil without any stones is best, we grow maincrop carrots in raised beds with early maturing varieties doing well in large deep tubs if we run out of space.

carrots

What’s your favourite variety to grow year after year?

 

Vegetable Garden

Jobs for January

The Garden Smallholder

January is usually a cold month, if the weather is particularly severe there may be little to do in the vegetable garden, but now is the perfect time to plan for the busy year ahead. Browse seed catalogues and plan what you’re going to grow and where, drawing a plan of your plot can help. If you’re a busy person, think about how much time you can realistically spend in your garden or at your allotment, try to plan accordingly, avoiding the mistake of growing too much all at once. It’s easy to become overwhelmed, especially if you’re a beginner, far better to choose crops that you enjoy eating or find easy to grow. Add more to your list as your confidence grows.

Some jobs that can be tackled in January:

  • Order seed potatoes for chitting this month or next
  • Force established Rhubarb
  • Sow Broad Beans if you didn’t get around to it…

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Vegetable Garden

Jobs for December

The Garden Smallholder

Sprouts

December is a great month to finish tidying, tackle repairs to structures, winter dig and generally plan and look forward to the coming growing season!

  • Get on with winter digging (avoid if the ground is frozen or waterlogged)
  • Spread well-rotted manure on areas that need a bit of a boost (avoid planting roots in these areas)
  • Harvest Brussels sprouts from the bottom up
  • Harvest parsnips after a hard frost, they’ll be sweeter for it
  • Plant garlic if you can work the soil, otherwise use small pots and plant out once rooted
  • Drool at seed catalogues and plan your veg planting for next year

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Vegetable Garden

Jobs for November

The Garden Smallholder

Fading light conditions can make time for the garden almost impossible if you’re busy, now is the time to get motivated to put the garden to bed for the winter. However, there are planting possibilities for milder areas of the UK to be getting on with. It’s well worth getting some winter digging underway for heavy soils (avoid digging in constant wet weather), remove weeds and spread manure or organic compost if you can. If you prefer to follow the no-dig method, top dressing empty beds with organic matter can be done now too. Being productive now should save time come spring – and your soil will love you for it.

Some jobs for November:

  • Make a leaf bin and start collecting fallen leaves to make leaf mould
  • Plant garlic and winter onion sets
  • Prune apple and pear trees
  • Prune soft fruit bushes
  • Cover frost tender plants at night with horticultural fleece, don’t forget greenhouse…

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Flower Garden, Vegetable Garden

Top 5 Flowers for the Vegetable Garden or Allotment

It must be said, a veg garden in full productive swing is a thing of beauty. Throw some flowers into the mix and you have yourself a masterpiece. Apart from fruit, veg and herb flowers which are beautiful in their own right, I always include flowers to grow in our veg garden to attract pollinators and for cutting to enjoy inside the house.

Here are my top 5 easy-to-grow flowers for the vegetable garden or allotment:

1.  Sweet Pea

sweet peas

Great for cutting with delicious scent and early colour, grow them up a willow obelisk for a gorgeous stylish look, cut regularly to encourage more blooms. Dwarf varieties are great for growing in containers or for gardens where space is an issue. My favourites are old-fashioned grandiflora types and strongly scented tall climbers. A lovely variety to try is ‘Old Spice’ from Mr Fothergill’s.

2.  Cosmos

cosmos

Summer colour which lasts well into late autumn, good for cutting and attracting pollinators. Adding height and interest to the garden they can grow quite tall and get a bit wild and airy, but that’s what I love about them. Beautiful feathery foliage and flowers in many colours from soft white to bold crimson. For smaller gardens try growing the better behaved dwarf varieties.

Sarah Raven Bright Lights Cosmos

For something a little different try ‘Bright Lights’ from Sarah Raven, beautiful shades of orange to liven up any plot.

3. Sunflowers

sunflower

The well-known yellow giants as well as other coloured cultivars are perfect for attracting bees and hoverflies to the veg garden, during autumn and winter the large seed heads become a feast for wild birds.

dwarf sunflower

Great first flowers for children to grow, a firm favourite with adults too! I grew a beautiful multi-branching variety called ‘Black Magic’ this year from Mr Fothergill’s – not truly black but blooms of the darkest maroon. The seeds are black and small enough for all wild birds to enjoy, as they currently are in our garden!

4. Nasturtiums

nasturtium in a trough planter

This is such a versatile plant/flower and perfect for poor soils. Grow in the border, beds or containers, flowers and leaves are edible with a spicy punchy flavour and perfect for adding colour and a hint of pepper to a salad. Seed pods are edible too (best when green) and resemble capers, learn how to pickle them with this lovely article by What You Sow.

cabbage white caterpillar

Nasturtiums are attractive to pollinators and can be used as a distraction plant to Cabbage White butterflies, steering them away from brassicas to lay their eggs. Mighty handy if you love your cabbages, although you might want to check your salad before munching! Keep sowing throughout the year to extend the flowering time well into autumn, they’ll keep going till the frosts come.

5. Rudbeckia Gloriosa Daisies

img_0012rudbeckiagloriosadaises

I grow this type of Rudbeckia as a half hardy annual, spectacular colour from summer right through to late autumn. Bold flowers with different pattern markings glow in autumn sunshine, they also brighten up the veg patch on a dreary day when little else is in bloom. Support is needed, they grow well over 4ft high, lovely as a cut flower. I use Mr Fothergill’s seed starting them off in seed trays in spring and pricking out strong plants to grow on in individual pots, planting out after the risk of frosts has passed. Plant in clumps, ideal where space is not an issue.

 

Vegetable Garden

Jobs for October

The Garden Smallholder

The Atlantic Giant pumpkin I grew, sadly it began to rot before reaching epic proportions. Still, there's always next year!

Clocks go back, days are drawing in quick and the threat of the first frost looms. Cold biting winds, falling leaves and dreary weather are signalling the end of the gardening year, take a moment to look around you and marvel at October’s autumn colour palette. It sure is beautiful, especially when the sun shines. There are still jobs to be getting on with in the vegetable garden, so don’t put your tools away just yet!

Some jobs for October:

  • Keep picking those courgettes and beans before the first frost arrives
  • Sow green manures
  • Tidy the strawberry bed, pot up stray runners and overwinter in a greenhouse or well-lit shed
  • Make a leaf bin and start collecting fallen leaves to make leaf mould
  • Start planting garlic at the end of the month
  • Harvest and carve pumpkins for Halloween/Samhain celebrations
  • Autumn sow hardy broad beans (Aquaduce Claudia) and peas (Meteor) for an early crop late spring
  • Start…

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Vegetable Garden

Jobs for September

The Garden Smallholder

Summer is holding on by a thread in September, nights are definitely drawing in. There’s still  plenty to harvest this month including beans and courgettes, autumn raspberries and other berries should be plentiful too. Pumpkins should be swelling nicely, deepening in colour ready for harvesting from next month onwards.

Some jobs for September:

  • Keep picking courgettes, aim to get them small before they become big and watery
  • Turn your compost heap
  • Pick green tomatoes that show no sign of ripening by the end of the month, bring them indoors to ripen or use them green in chutney
  • Sow green manures
  • Harvest the first apples and pears
  • Keep harvesting main crop potatoes as needed
  • Earth up brassicas to prevent them toppling over
  • Pick autumn raspberries
  • Check stakes and ties for giant sunflower varieties, as the flower heads produce seeds they become heavier. Leave them in place for the wild birds.
  • Earth up leeks
  • Sweet corn cobs should be…

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