Thursday, September 10, 2009


September 2009

The growing season is slowing down. The pumpkins are ripening on the vine, the last beans are growing, the aubergines and peppers are giving their last fruit and the tomatoes are giving an incredible quantity of small, red juicy tomatoes that are sugar sweet. A top tomato year and not a sick plant among them. I am thrilled. Because a ripe tomato, plucked from the vine, rubbed off on your jeans and popped straight into your mouth, that is surely the nicest work in the veg garden.
The three sisters patch is finished, nothing but dead corn and weeds. The beans are picked, shelled and stored, and I only got one mini pumpkin from the patch, so it will need improving next year: protect the pumpkin plants early on, plant the corn much closer together and make a big stack of manure to feed everything.
Another interesting spot is the herb garden. It is flourishing, probably because I weeded it more this year! It has given me an excellent supply all summer of tarragon, parsley, mint and thyme (a big jar of dried thyme for all my winter stews, pan fried potatoes, pork roasts, yum yum). I planted sage this year and they have done very well, several shrubs of it which I hope will live through winter. I made a little flower bed next to the shed this year with some compost and a few roof tiles and I am thinking of transforming it into another herb bed: there is already one sage in there and I could add marjoram, any other suggestions?
I am as always positive about the next season. Perhaps you are a true gardener at heart when you look among the spent bean plants, the empty onion bed, the shrivelled pumpkin vines and you are already thinking of where to plant the winter garlic, what beans to grow next year, what those irises will look like when they reappear in the spring. And the sight of a huge pile of manure gives you an erection... well almost.
I hope all the other gardeners have had just as good a season as I have had and are ready to attack the ripping out, cutting down, digging over that is the gardener's lot in the autumn. I can't wait.

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Wednesday, September 02, 2009


How the 2009 season went

Well, folks the season draws to an end. What were the failures and successes this year? Let's take stock:
Spring was quite successful with a good crop of artichokes, rhubarb and strawberries and even a few lettuces. The peas didn't give much and the broad beans got infested with aphids (note to self, drop those next year).
Summer was a mixed batch. An excellent crop of onions, garlic and shallots. Good beans (especially Cobra climbers, tasty and no strings. The Fin de Bagnols are awfully stringy if they get a bit too big.
Sweetcorn mostly failed which I put down to storms just after planting which destroyed some plants so pollination wasn't successful. Beetroot was very disappointing, despite buying Boltardy that everyone raves about. They just failed to develop. Soil, water? What went wrong?
Good crops of strawberries and raspberries but some of the strawberries need replacing next year.
Excellent crop of tomatoes, several varieties, very good flavours, I will be saving seed from some of each! Also had good results with the aubergines and peppers, again they will be worth redoing next year. The herbs were pretty vigourous too, I managed to get some sage bushes going, and the thyme and mint has reallt taken off. The only low point, the rosemary died, it seemed to have been attacked by a disease. I will try again next year maybe in another spot, shame as that place was ideal, warm and exposed.
For autumn, what can I look forward to? There are carrots, a few at least, still growing, perhaps next year I will finally break through with those, and I also have a good row of parsnips in, they look healthy and strong, as do the red cabbages and the rhubarb chard. Soon be time to dig up the late spuds then it will be the end of the growing season, just time to start manuring the plot and tidying it up for next year.
Must get in the paths that I failed to do this year and rip out some of the old strawberries and prepare the patch for new ones, dig over the flower bed that grew too wild this year and try and get some more permanent shrubs into it, that could make it tidier. My biggest project is to build a seed bed though, a proper sheletered one where I can raise the seedlings outdoors next spring. I am convinced that is the key to success, so I must get my finger out over that one.

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When the holidays are over...

your garden's a bit of a dog's dinner. But this year it wasn't too bad. There had been a dry spell but all was pretty much as I had left it. Plenty of tomatoes to pick, but not one rotten or dropped on the ground! Terrific.
A bit of grass to weed, a few flowers to dead head, potatoes to dig up, but everything was pretty calm on the whole.


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