raspberryfool: (Default)
In the mild November afternoon, I dismantled the cover that had protected my tomato plants, keeping out the worst of the blight, or more specifically, the moisture that allows it to spread and ruin my plants. These 'tomato tents' are now firmly-established summertime fixtures in my garden. My plants had blight spots all right, but were mostly green and healthy when I removed their roof of polythene sheeting. Some plants even had hopeful flowers blooming amongst the green leaves! But they would only have survived until the first heavy frost, which could arrive any night now, and the green tomatoes hanging hopefully from the vines wouldn't have a hope of ripening in the gloom of winter, so out of their warm earth they came! I now have a couple of pounds of green tomatoes to use up. Chutney anyone?

Tomato tent 2010

I burnt the bonfire on Samhain; the mass of privet wood, holly clippings, raspberry and bramble canes and moss and other garden detritus went up rather quickly. That's another two plots cleared of their summer inhabitants! The only annuals left in the ground are the leeks and a few hardy French bean vines, which I'll be removing forthwith.

The raspberry canes are fruiting well, and I even saw a ripening strawberry, which shows just how mild it's been here, but that's not what brings these plants into flower. It's photoperiodism. Strawberry and raspberry are short-day plants, which respond to the increasing length on darkness and probably think its spring! So its the day-length that brings them into flower, but the warmth probably helps the fruits to develop and ripen.* Ain't nature wonderful?

So now it's time to clear the garden for winter. The lawns and hedges need a final trim, the grapevine leaves look resplendent as they change from green to soft yellows and glowing reds and the plum, lilac and maple leaves will need raking up. And I haven't even brought in the non-hardy geraniums as its been so mild; they look so much nicer in the garden but I don't want to lose some of them - that's another job for the weekend.

Now it's time to curl up with a warm seed catalogue and decide what to plant next year. Oh yes, it's all go in the garden!

*Don't say I never teaches you nuffink!
raspberryfool: (Gardening)
As I noted in my last entry, last week saw the first frost of the autmun; a chilling reminder that winter is never very far away. If the sunny, balmy autumn weather had lulled me into a false sense of security - at least garden-wise - the frosty mornings were a sudden wake-up call. Thus, I set to the task of dismantling my poly-shelters - erected to protect my tomato plants from the dreaded blight - and to return the 'Midsummer' and 'Bonfire' plots to their naked, weed-free state.

First of all, I removed my chilli pepper plants for over-wintering. These have now grown into small tree-like plants which I've carefully uprooted, placed into large pots with potting compost and placed on windowsills around the house.

It's best to remove the poly-shelters on a still day, otherwise the polythene sheets will be found wrapped around the neighbours' trees or strung around telephone wires out of reach and all hope of recovery! The polythene on the small shelter survived the summer intact but the large sheet over 'Midsummer' became ripped along a fold, allowing blight-spreading rainwater to pour through. There are also small scratches over the top where I'm certain the local avian population assembled to feast upon next door's juicy, ripe cherries. So next year, I'll make smaller constructions and put bird-scaring devices - like CDs and used food tins - in place.

With the white poles and polythene sheeting now stored safely in the shed (ooh - aliteration!), I piled the garden waste, accumulated in a large heap below the plum tree, onto the 'midsummer' plot for a good autumn bonfire to mark Samhain, and the close of another (mostly) excellent growing season in the garden.