Monday, September 29

Harvest - All things great and small

We were away again for a couple of days last week and so again we only harvested what either we or my sister could use.

The crops gathered in seem to have fallen into a similar pattern to last week.
22 September
I'm not expecting the sweet peas to carry on producing flowers for much longer but they have been great this year and the house has rarely been without a couple of vases stuffed with flowers.
Following some comments from last week, I thought that I should clarify the size of our kiwi berry - Issai. As you can see from the photo they are nothing like the size of the more commonly seen kiwis. What they lack in size they make up for when tasting which is a more concentrated kiwi flavour.  We haven't had many fruits this year and need to try and increase production next year.
At the other end of the size scale this week is this Kings of Colour  tomato. Whilst this one isn't the biggest tomato we have ever grown (if you are interested in viewing our current record holder we have a video here taken back in 2009), but it was fairly large and not our only decent sized specimen.
The home greenhouse grapes are still being harvested.  
Some of our carrots may be a strange shape but who cares when they taste so good?
24 September
Now that the large central heads of the calabrese plants have been cut the plants are sending out side shoots - I guess it is the vegetable equivalent of dead heading. 
25 September
Finally we picked a fairly large sweet pepper and some mini aubergines. The aubergines may be smaller than we would hope for but were perfectly formed.

Thursday, September 25

Late September on the plot

At this point in the year we seem to spend most of our time clearing spent crops away and preparing beds for a winter rest. The plot looks relatively bare although looking more closely there is still plenty going on.

The carrots are still under the enviromesh and will be harvested throughout winter as we need them as will the parsnip planted at the end of the same bed. To  give them a little more protection these will be given a duvet of straw.

The long bed next door but one to the carrots in the photo below had been made ready for autumn onions and garlic.
Today it was planted up. Martyn mentioned in this post that we had problems sourcing the onion sets and garlic locally. 
The ammi is already flowering and shares a bed with wallflowers and sweet rocket which hopefully will put on a show next spring. More ammi and sweet rocket are planted in another bed but this time they are joined by sweet Williams.
Just in front of the plum trees are the All Gold raspberries which at the moment are cropping well.

In the photo below the clump of what looks like dock is horseradish which we really must pluck up courage to use. 
The bed in the photo below, that is now planted with sweetcorn and beetroot, which we are cropping at the moment, will later become our new strawberry bed. We still have to decide which varieties of strawberries to plant.

The leeks that are planted in the bed in the foreground will, like the carrots and parsnips, remain in the ground over winter to be harvested as required.

We have three brassica beds planted up, one of the brassica beds is home to Brussels sprouts, red and green cabbage. Although we think this bed is free of club root we have planted Crispus - a club root resistant variety of sprout which seems to do well for us. The sprouts are just beginning to form. 

We keep the netting on to protect against the marauding wood pigeons but unfortunately it doesn't help keep the clouds of whitefly away. Don't you just hate whitefly?

Planted in other brassica beds are Savoy cabbage, cauliflower, calabrese and winter cabbage. The problem with keeping them netted is that it is difficult to keep the edges of the bed trimmed. Maybe we can come up with some method to overcome this next year.
To the left, in the photo below, are the summer raspberries. The new canes have been tied to wires. We hope they will crop well next year. The runner bean frames will soon be removed as the beans are just about over. 
Between the beans are the Inca berries which as yet have fairly empty 'lanterns' so I guess we can chalk that up as a failure.
In the photo below, to the left are Joan J - autumn raspberries which are providing us with fresh berries at the moment and to the left are the Crown Prince squash. The squash leaves are dying back and the squash are just about ready to harvest and store.
The apple hedge and young apple trees are also still being harvested. Some of the fruit beds are edged with alpine strawberries. We started picking fruit from these at the beginning of June and they are still providing fruit. Production is slowing down but usually continues until the first frosts which has been as late as the beginning of November.
Trained along the side of the shed is a grapevine which was doing really well until August turned cool. Now the grapes have stopped swelling so I'm not expecting anything edible from them.
It's just the opposite story as far as the quince is concerned. The tree is fairly small. If you click and enlarge the photo two above, the quince is 'sort of' at the end of the shed. A month or so ago, although the tree was loaded, the fruits were quite small and didn't appear to be growing. 
Suddenly things took off and now the fruit are now the size expected. Last year nearly all the fruits developed bitter pit making them unusable; we are hoping this isn't repeated this year as we are looking forward to a good harvest.

Wednesday, September 24

Any crumbs to spare?

Monday, September 22

Pepping up Harvest Time

We pick things from the garden greenhouse as we want to use them so unlike from the plot we tend to harvest in ones or twos (or in the case of grapes - bunches).

The two Amish Gold tomatoes had split at the top but this didn't detract from the taste. This has been out best pepper and aubergine year. Some of the peppers are enormous.
15 September
We harvested a few properly ripened kiwi berries. They are no bigger than a large grape but have a distinct kiwi taste and when cut in half look exactly like miniature kiwis which shouldn't have surprised me but did.
Kiwi - Issai
From the plot, I picked the rest of the cobnuts barring one or two clusters that are still not quite ready. They are spread out drying. We tasted one or two that had popped out of the husks and the taste verdict was that they were a success.

Amongst first harvests for this week were the beetroot and sweetcorn. The Loch Ness blackberries have been a surprise as we are still picking a few fruits after starting to pick in July.
16 September
As we were going away for a couple of days we didn't gather much of a mid-week harvest - mainly just a few bits and pieces of salad crops. The cabbage, calabrese and sweet corn were for my sister.

Another first was a punnet of cranberries - we have two plants in tubs outside of the plot greenhouse that are totally neglected. Each year one fruits and the other doesn't. Each year we forget to pick the fruit but this year we haven't.

Once again I am linking to Harvest Monday over at Daphne's Dandelions.

Saturday, September 20

Flower Power

We have lots of flowers on the plot which besides providing us with cut flowers and look attractive provide a feast for the beneficial insects.

It all kicks off with the hazel and fruit blossom - some of which seems insignificant to our eyes but is loved by the insects.

Following on from this there are the permanently planted spring bulbs and flowers such as daffodils and the native primroses.
I have more daffodils to plant from tubs as I prefer the smaller varieties in the garden.

Then we have campanulas given to us by a friend and which were planted up in a new flower bed. This bed was originally the home of the summer raspberries that suddenly died off. 
Around May time the biennials flower starting with the wallflowers, which are later joined by the sweet rocket and sweet Williams.
This year I also sowed some ox-eyed daisies which started producing flowers in May and are are still flowering. They make very long lasting cut flowers too. 
As these are perennial I will move some into the bed which has been allocated for next year's annual and biennial flowers.

The biennials for next year - wallflowers, sweet rocket and sweet Willians are planted out and growing well.
I sowed and planted some ammi at the same time which I think was a mistake as it is flowering now and maybe should have been sown with next year's  hardy annuals.

This year's hardy annuals have featured on my blog earlier and are still flowering. I've been particularly impressed by the amount of flowers produced by the cornflowers
I've tried to regularly dead-head the flowers and sowed a succession of batches of seed. I don't know whether this has made a difference as I haven't any flowers that weren't dead-headed to compare them to but the patch has flowered for ages..

I've also tried to keep up with dead-heading the sunflowers ...
... and the dahlias that were planted in the same bed as the  campanulas.

Although we had decided not to grow dahlias this year, we relented and bought some single varieties for cutting. The problem is that the bees love them so much that I feel guilty robbing them of the flowers. When dead-heading these and the sunflowers I have to take care not to remove a head still being browsed. (By the way if you can't tell a dahlia bud from the remains of a dead flower I have written about dead-heading dahlias here). Sprinkled in amongst the dahlias are verbena bonariensis which is also popular with the bees.

We have a row of sweet peas along one edge of one of our plots.
Despite their best efforts they don't manage to look spectacular as we keep cutting the flowers before they have a chance to put on a brilliant show. They keep trying and we keep cutting but I guess that they will just throw in the towel soon.

Finally - as far as this post goes anyway - are the shrubs. We have a whole row of buddleias.
This came about as a result of my inability to dispose of the offspring of cuttings taken from various unknown varieties - one of which was acquired from someone's compost heap. Their honey scent fills the air and draws in bees and butterflies. Last year the flowers were smothered by peacock butterflies but these have been missing this year. I have kept dead heading to try and prolong the flowering in case the butterflies arrived later but they haven't. I wonder whether the cool, damp August didn't suit them.

We do have other shrubs too but I'm finishing with the roses.
Between the roses are the earlier flowering irises. The roses and irises were pushing through a mass of weeds and grass along with a few other perennials.

We've made a start at tidying up but both the bed and roses are in need of more attention.

Maybe a project for the winter months.

Wednesday, September 17

Reds rule at Formby

More photos of the Formby Reds in our Zenfolio Portfolio here