Alex’s Ramblings October/November 2019

Apologies for going awol since my last ramblings in August. This has been due to works on the house which took far more of my time than anticipated.

Let me first of all congratulate the show committee for staging, yet again,  a tremendous show. The horticultural element was another outstanding success with entries up on previous years. Thank you to all those who entered, putting on a tremendous display of fruit, vegetables and flowers and congratulations to the prize winners. I do hope that the displays will have given more of you an incentive to enter. I  look forward to seeing the prize winners at the Society’s AGM in November where they will receive their awards.

We seem to have had an extraordinary amount of rainfall in the last eight weeks which has curtailed opportunities to get outside onto the garden. Since the staging of the show my efforts have been largely targeted on harvesting and storage of crops. Onions and shallots were brought inside at the beginning of September. My butternut squash which after a slow start, did manage to produce an excellent crop have just been brought in and stored. Swede sowings failed entirely so I am left with beetroot, carrots and leeks and Brussels sprouts in the vegetable garden. I shall be lifting the beetroot asap leaving the carrots, sprouts and leeks in the ground. On the subject of leeks, I have grown some, what looked like really good specimens but recently have noticed a discolouration of the leaves and on closer examination have identified an infestation of leek moth. This is very disappointing especially as my neighbours crop which are planted  less than ten yards away show no signs of a similar infestation. On the positive side however, my sprouts which disappointed last year, look as though they will produce an excellent crop and now that the cabbage white butterfly seems to have disappeared for the year I can remove the protective netting.

I mentioned in my last ramblings that we have had visits from Mr Badger and that he had destroyed the broad bean crop. Well, he wasn’t content with that and subsequently moved on to the sweet corn. We had harvested the first two cobs, delicious they were too: the very next night, despite all my attempts to protect the crop, he returned, demolished and ate the whole lot. If I want to continue growing these crops I shall have to give some very serious thought to how I might successfully protect them.

As far as the ornamental garden is concerned, I have finally managed to get the lawns back to somewhere near their condition before the drought of 2018. Grass is an extremely resilient plant and I shall be scarifying them and  improving drainage by creating holes with the garden fork whilst gathering fallen leaves.

Dead heading and pruning is the order of the day. I shall be lifting dahlia tubers shortly and storing in a frost proof place for  over wintering. Roses are continuing to bloom and will get a light pruning for the winter to help prevent wind rock.

So what shall I be doing for the rest of the year? The greenhouse has been cleared of the tomato crop leaving sweet peppers and chillies to ripen. As soon as I have been able to harvest them, I shall be looking to clean and disinfect the greenhouse so that is ready for use next spring. Beds and borders will get a tidy up removing any debris. I shall be considering what has done well or poorly and what needs to be planted or removed. I already know not to repeat one glaring mistake I made this year by putting a red dahlia in entirely the wrong place.

Now we are back to GMT, the nights arrive even earlier and I shall be spending a night or two thumbing through seed catalogues deciding what I want to grow next year. I mentioned in a previous ramblings, this year has seen an increase in the type and number of of butterflies in my garden and shall be looking to increase the number of butterfly attractive species. Once I have made my seed selection I shall wait until Black Friday to order as most companies have amazing deals thus reducing costs by anything up to 50%.

As far as further ramblings are concerned, I’m heading into hibernation for a while and shall dream of the return of warm weather and getting out into the garden to achieve even better results than this year. Time will tell……

Good gardening,