End of the Season

MarigoldsEverything’s winding down in our garden now and, in between dashing out between heavy showers (make that pouring rain!) to hack away at the pruning, take cuttings, and so on, it’s time to reflect on what’s worked and what hasn’t.

We’d decided not to grow much veg in 2010, because we’ve got so many kind of landscape-y structural things that need doing. A large patch of gravel needed shifting and digging over to extend the boys’ play area. We needed to sort out some kind of hedging, preferably native. We also want to extend the vegetable plot, which requires moving the patio – and sorting this out meant cutting into the top level of our garden, taking out walls & steps, and somehow connecting this high bit with the low bit…  Phew!

Debris in our garden

Underground debris

It’s been terribly hard work and we’ve made very slow progress. Our house was built on part of the grounds of a large Victorian villa and as you can see, I seem to have dug up most of the outhouses, stables and goodness knows what else that the builders left under the soil.  So thank goodness that we did decide to plant things, or we’d be a little dispirited by the mucky quagmire-like work in progress at the back.

Our two biggest success stories this year have been seeds from the Real Seed Catalogue and our composty stuff from Wiggly Wigglers. All our buys from the Real Seed people have been brilliant, especially the Cherokee Trail of Tears beans, which have cropped regularly throughout the summer

And are now ripening into these rather thrilling dark glossy beans:

A mention too for their Amish Paste tomatoes which grew to epic proportions (in some cases too heavy for their plants!). As their name implies these tomatoes require very little reduction when cooking them in sauces, as they don’t produce loads of liquid. Just lovely deep concentrated flavours. We have a freezer full of tomato sauce for winter.

Wiggly Wigglers, with their bokashi compost system, have perked up our compost heap no end and enabled us to turn pretty much all of our food waste into compost. It’s a system in which you layer food waste with the special ‘active bran’ in a plastic container – once it’s matured you can stick it in your compost heap. We seem to be breaking garden & kitchen waste down into usable compost in no time at all. It’s the first time we’ve had really successful compost.

This was our first year growing turnips – which were lovely, and a really successful year for courgettes – which are still going strong! We also grew onions and garlic, beetroot and salad leaves, and the ruby chard is coming into its own now. Not too bad for a year in which we weren’t really going to grow anything.

Once the season’s all done with, it’ll be time to think about what we’ll be up to next year. We’re really hoping to have our new arrangement for the veg beds done by the spring and to have planted some hedging over the winter. So at some point over the next couple of weeks we’ll jot down the things we want to be growing – and when we need to do things. Our herbs and small fruit plants in pots will be grateful when we’re done and we can finally get them into the ground.

One thing we’d like to do next year a bit more is to get the boys more involved in what we grow, building on the success Danny enjoyed this year with his epic sunflowers. And what we’d really like now is a good stretch of reasonable weather to get things done..

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