Last time I expressed a little boredom with my ongoing 4 year experiment in keeping a Dwarf Green Curled Kale alive long past its allotted 2 years (as a brassica). Well, the bloody thing was battered by a moderately strong wind and broke in two. It is still alive, just much smaller than it was. This might be serendipitous as I didn’t have the courage to dig it up after so long nurturing it, and this event has given me the chance to back out gracefully. But it may not be the end for our brave curly kale – or at least not its genes. I am going to take a cutting and see whether or not regrowing it each year has better results. Read More
Like two years ago, my squashes have been hiding from me. Tonight I have added three new crown princes (the whitish ones) and one small acorn from the allotment. Compare this to the harvest photo I put up a couple of weeks ago. Two years ago my neighbour knocked on the door bearing 2 giant marrows, saying that those were mine and did I want them back. It’s like an easter egg hunt in my back garden most years. The table in the pics is a coffee table and I tried lifting it, bearing in mind that I was trying not to scatter them all over the living room, I found it a struggle to lift. The colours are also changing, compare with the photo before, a lot of the green squashes are going pumpkin orange, which is cool. Read More
More bumble bee nonsense. I
may be *am* anthropomorphising my garden bumble bees, because now they are starting to give me cuddles. This may be the bee I saved from the “existential horror factory” otherwise known as my spider population. To be honest, the spider looked at the size of the bee struggling in his web, stroked his chin and muttered that he was going to need something extra special to handle this big a job. I’d like to think the bee came and rewarded me with a little waggerly dance on my t-shirt but I might be thinking total bollox. I may know that animals even insects are more clever and more feeling than we give them credit for, but this sudden affection for bees is entering tree hugging territory and the hard nosed inner rationalist is not happy.
Besides, as my wife says – bees are the messengers of the Goddess Aphrodite and who can ignore the gods?.
Or my wife.
I am continuing to harvest squashes – I have to say “Crown Prince” is very productive – and adding them to the pile in the living room. There is a fair amount of food – and posh food at that – that will store through most of the winter. I say that though: my friend Stu refuses to cut his winter squashes until the plant has finished in autumn. He may be right, I have a nagging suspicion that early cut ones might not store that long, but I have done it to a) give me a boost of enthusiasm seeing produce in the house and b) to allow the plant to divert energies to the other smaller fruit on the plant. That’s the theory anyway.
My courgettes are now getting powdery mildew, an eventual harbinger of death for cucurbits, but they haven’t stopped producing. The courgettes, unlike the winter squashes, are in large pots. I am fastidious in their feeding and watering, because plants in pots fail very quickly in my experience. I am feeding them with nettle tea, comfrey tea and some freshly finished compost, all nice and juicy, which I am mulching things with.
My current pile of squashes (not counting courgettes – which are scoffed straight away) are sat on the table in our living room where I can admire them and remind myself just why I am growing vegetables. They have hard skins and some sound hollow. I’m hoping they will last well into winter – here’s hoping.
And there’s more to come. Some frenzied feeding, watering and cosseting that I’ve been doing (because I can feel the onset of autumn and I’m panicking) seem to have had an effect and all the squash plants have started growing more fruit. That is except for one. I have read him the riot act and he knows his days are numbered unless he bucks his ideas up.
I can’t say I’ve had a glut but veggies are definitely trickling into the house and it has made everything worth it. My knowledge is increasing as I do it, so I know it should be even better year after year.I’ve dug up my potato onions which a kind man who specialises in breeding these veggies (you know who you are) sent to me. I have 12, losing 5 to slugs and English weather but the photo to the left shows the results. Some of them are small but I got the seed late in the year and I am very pleased. They show a high variety of characteristics: flask shaped, torpedo shaped, round, white and yellow, even with a touch of red.
If you have never heard of potato onions, you may have heard of multiplier onions, they are just like shallots in that they reproduce by dividing and not by seed. That is they don’t normally set seed: very, very rarely they do and my potato onions are the product of this. The onions shown will be my seed onions for next year, which I will cosset under glass until I am sure of the security of my stock.
I have now stroked the backs of two bumble bees in the garden, a summer hobby taught to me by the missus who has been doing such bonkers things for some time. Are these potentially painful friends actually drunk on nectar as she suggests. Does anyone know?
Talking of ecosystems, as you know I have been controlling slugs and snails not by chemicals but by the force of my size 12 boots. Well the smeared corpses of my gastropodic enemies led to an explosion of blue bottle flies which for three weeks were everywhere and very annoying. We’re talking scores of them.
Well, yesterday I noticed a reduction in the number of bluebottles as well as an explosion in spider webs and spiders. Over the next few hours I watched the spiders eat the bluebottles with a growing sense of horror until today the bluebottles have gone and the spiders have packed up their webs and gone elsewhere.
Not only is this the sort of pest control that organic gardeners have been pointing out works in nature, it is also the sort of existential horror story that I have heard about but never experienced first hand. Not just that I created the feeding frenzy by providing the food for the bluebottle breeding frenzy in the first place. This ghastly story played out thanks to my actions.
Yes I know, we waited an eternity for winter to end and now the summer has rushed by and we are preparing for next year. I am now sowing hardy salad leaves – spinach, chervil, parsley and oriental mustards. I sow them in little pots of compost, wait for them to germinate, grow past the seedling stage and them plant them up in either big pots or the ground. It is now the second half of august – so now is the last chance to get ready for autumn. Read More
I have realised that I am quite conventional in my outlook even though my artistic side longs for shrub height forest gardening. I have realised that I am just basically an organic gardener. I grew rows of shallots and elephant garlic and though I was propagating in a perennial manner I revelled in my yield in exactly the same manner as any other allotmenteer.
After a failed start sowing skirret from seed in the spring some have come up anyway in the summer and are now established plants. Skirret is an old fashioned perennial root crop which used to be everywhere but is now dying out. I have six plants in total and I am into looking at their pretty little white flowers. Read More