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Monday 16 September 2013

Out With the Old, In With the New

Monday was a cold windy day. Even though we had nearly 4 hours of sunshine it was still a miserable day with the afternoon temperature making it to a measly 13.4°C. The showers arrived on a very strong wind so it wasn’t a gardening sort of a day.

Last week we lifted all our onions grown over summer and moved them into our home greenhouse to dry off and store over winter. As it wasn’t a day for allotmenting we had a trip around a couple of local gardening centres to buy some winter onions.

Normally we would order these on-line from one of the seed companies but last year the sets arrived in the middle of October which turned out to be the start of some cold weather. The result was that most of the bulbs never had any chance to grow before winter set in and most of the sets just rotted away in the ground.

We decided to buy the bulbs locally this year. It does mean our choice of varieties is much more restricted but if we can get our sets planted over the coming weekend they will have almost a months start on last year’s winter onions. Fortunately the forecast seems to suggest the weather will improve over the weekend.




Tuesday 17 September 2013

Ready Frozen Rasps

Tuesday was a cold cloudy day with the temperature just making it into double figures.

We decided on an afternoon visit to the plot despite the weather. The plot tomatoes hadn’t had any water since last Thursday so I thought they would be in need of a drink by now. As we decided to leave home we had a heavy short sharp shower but once that stopped we headed for the plot. When we arrived there was drizzle in the air and as you can see from the graph of yesterday’s temperature it was around 10°C. We decided on a quick harvesting session and I’d fit in watering the tomatoes before we left.

I started by picking some raspberries, Joan J. These had stood up to the bad weather very well but my fingers didn’t stand up to picking the cold wet berries quite so well.

I finished up with a nice punnet full of raspberries. Our yellow fruiting raspberries, All Gold, hadn’t taken kindly to the weather and weren't worth picking. It was then on to apples, pears, plums, blackberries, tomatoes, beans and a cob of sweet corn to test. Finally just before we left the tomatoes got their drink.

In the end a good harvest for a cold September day.

Wednesday 18 September 2013

Plot Pear Crop

Wednesday was a bit of a mix of a day with some sunny spells interspersed with some short heavy showers and once again on the cold side.

Although we only had a quick visit to the plot on Tuesday afternoon we did pick all our pears which easily parted from the tree so are supposed to be ready to harvest. The crop weights are shown on the little diagram below which is an extract from my GrowVeg plans.

Invincible has produced the heaviest crop and indeed the tree is now starting to look more upright as the weight of pears has been removed from its young branches. Having tested one of the pears they will need some time to ripen fully as they are still rock hard.

Red Williams produced a nice little crop of pears and these are slightly softer than Invincible and if like me you enjoy pears on the firm side are ready for eating.

Finally Delsanne which has only produced a crop of less than 1kg. We haven’t tried any of these yet so they may not be ready for eating. This is our pear tree with fire blight which Sue has blogged about here

I’ll have to check on the conference pear tree growing at the back of our home greenhouse to see if those pears part from the tree easily. If they do I’d better get them picked before the next strong wind does the job for me and they smash the the greenhouse roof.

Thursday 19 September 2013


Thursday was just miserable all day. We didn’t get the amount of rainfall forecast although it seemed to rain all day with virtually all the rain falling before lunchtime. The rest of the day it drizzled.

In the afternoon it was noticeably warmer as the temperature improved by about 4°C although the weather remained dull and dreary.

Friday 20 September 2013

Late Planted Potatoes a Success

Friday wasn’t as forecast, a bit disappointing as the warmer sunnier weather didn’t happen. It was cloudy all day until early evening when the sun managed to make a brief appearance.

For most of the day the temperature hovered around the 14°C mark disappointingly low after the forecast for warmer temperatures. As the sun came out early evening the temperature peaked before falling away rapidly.

The weather didn’t stop me from digging up the last of our potatoes. Those planted in plot 30, as a sort of backup to our main crop,were disappointing. I couldn’t really find any potatoes on one row of Swifts planted in this bed.

On the other hand our rather experimental late planting of  potatoes on 16 June 2013 turned out to be a success. One big factor has been that there hasn’t been any blight which would have cut the potatoes back at the end of July or early August as it does in many years.

There was still plenty of green foliage on the plants but I thought it was about time I got them lifted. There’s plenty of tidying up to do on the plot before any bad weather sets in so I decided it was time to see how our experiment had performed. It’s worth noting that these were left over tubers that were planted and they weren't the biggest or best of the seed potatoes which had already been picked over a couple of times for our main plantings. They could just as easily have been dumped and not planted.

The variety was Nicola and I was pleasantly surprised by the quantity and quality of the potatoes. The potatoes were damage free and a good size and the equal of any I’ve lifted this year.

By the time they were all lifted I’d 26kg of potatoes in these three boxes not bad from some seed potato that were left forgotten about in the plot greenhouse for a couple of months and could just as easily have been thrown away.

It does show that potatoes planted as late as the middle of June will produce a very good crop of potatoes if, and it’s a very big if, there’s no blight. Perhaps we just chose a good year for the experiment.

Saturday 21 September 2013

Season of Mellow Fruitfulness

After a couple of days where the weather hasn’t gone to forecast Saturday’s was just about spot on. The day started of dull but kept on just getting better with some sunshine eventually breaking through the cloud cover late in the afternoon as the temperature peaked at 22.6°C.

On the plot our garden centre bought onions, Thompson and Morgan’s Autumn Onions, Electric Red, Radar and Sensyu Yellow were all planted out. Garlic Thermidour and Germidour were also planted along with some cloves from last year’s Elephant Garlic as we hadn’t been able to buy any in the garden centres we’d visited. All our onions and garlic were planted through weed control fabric which has been very successful with our summer onions.

We’ve still got some apples, plums and last but certainly not least quinces to pick. In the late afternoon sun they looked ready for picking but our apples Golden Delicious and Egremont Russet are reluctant to part from the tree and need more time to ripen. We’ll leave our quinces on the tree as long as possible although the fruits are loosing their furriness which is supposed to be a sign of them ripening.