It’s been a while…. Now where were we?
Harvest has happened and it has absorbed a lot of our time. Spuds and apples now safely stored in our cold store for the winter. We would have had more but they were being attacked by some strange spotty disease. I spent ages researching but the raging virus quickly wiped out our plum crop and then started to spread to the apples.
It was some two weeks later I accidentally discovered the real cause whilst putting some cds in the loft. I had just reached the top of the loft ladder and I nearly put my hand on a wasp resting on the joists. Strange I thought. I put the light on and looked up. Our attic light is not the brightest. It woud be more accurate to call it a dark than a light. However, I could just make out small flying objects buzzing over my head. It was then that I clocked the most enormous wasps nest I had ever seen high up on the chimney breast. I mean I had been under that nest two days earlier putting a picture frame away. Aargh!
We called out our friendly neighbourhood pest controller who had already destroyed some four wasp nests for us earlier in the year and having charged for each of them he had foolishly promised to do any more we got for free. A few puffs of vulcan dust from the end of a long pole and the attacks on my apples stopped. I was just left with the job of scraping the nest from the chimney into a bin sack. Still all that damaged fruit forced an early flurry of hastily prepared apple pies, strudles and apple cake so not all was lost.
Now the veggies have been wonderful. There are some pictures posted below.
Leaf beet was a great success as were the french beans except my dear wife decided she didn’t like either of them! I resigned to feeding them to the chickens whilst trying not to think of the long hours spent digging, fertilising, stringing and tending that went into bringing them from seed to maturity. Gardeners beware, pests are not merely confined to the garden, some lurk in the kitchen!
The carrots in the raised bed were a huge success though and very tasty. Unlike the odd-shaped french beans, these and the beetroot were jealously guarded by my wife and only an honoured few were allowed to share her harvest. Oregano, sage, French tarragon, mint and parsley grew strongly in the open ground but coriander and dill were a disaster. However, coriander and basil grew prolifically in pots in the greenhouse. Tomatoes were grown very easily from seed saved from the previous year. However, I had forgotten that the Moneymakers had been raised alongside the Gardeners Delight variety. As a result, this year’s crop couldn’t make its mind up whether to grow large tomatoes or small sweet ones on the vine with plants ending up as a mish-mash of both! Tasty though.
With garden centres closed in Spring as our so called government made a start on its police state agenda and with compost in short supply everything had to be grown from seed. A mix of old cucumber seed produced fat but tough fruits which, I suspect also suffered from being grown alongside Loofahs! We didn’t eat too many. Similarly the peppers went in as an afterthought from old seed and came late in the season often with the fruits holed by pests. Must try harder.
The onions came in three waves. Japan onions had been planted the previous Autumn and were the first to crop in late June. Then came the maincrop from sets and finally the large storing onions grown from seed started in the greenhouse in January. We never run short of these essential items. Courgettes also performed well though the small plants we set out in straw beds Ruth Stout style in the field were gobbled by slugs/rabbits? virtually overnight. Jan had sneaked some squash plants into my mix which grew well though we had no idea what to do with the football shaped fruits that we found hanging inside our runner bean frame! They sprawled everywhere. Our poor attempts to make something food-like out of them left us determined never to grow them again. Perhaps its a southern thing?
We literally had a field day with the potatoes (and we still have half a field of spuds to dig out). Slugs have taken their toll but still a lot of lovely organic spuds. Next year I am growing Sarpo Mira which appear to be the most blight resistant potato available and also are apparently not liked by slugs. Hmm we’ll see. The huge area laid to spuds this year will be used for more interesting veg next year, the spuds having prepared the ground so to speak. In fact, first in will be 100 garlic cloves due to arrive in the post any day now.
So here we are approaching November with potatoes, onions and apples all safely in cold store and beetroot, swede, parnsip, leeks cropping and with purple spouting broccoli and asparagus set to see us through the hungry gap next year. My wife has been making a mix of those vegetables into a sort of vegetarian mince which has been going into pie fillings and cottage pies yum-yum. With our hens still laying albeit in drastically reduced numbers as Winter approaches we should be able to keep the wolf from the door!