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)
Most of my activity recently has been in the front garden, where I've been cutting the privet hedges back severely. They'd become rather thick and matted, obscuring light and making the small front garden feel very enclosed. I've now removed both sides of the roadside hedge, leaving just the top leaves to allow the plants to photosynthesise. Next month I'll remove six inches, to bring the hedge level with the gateposts.

The first load of wood went onto the bonfire in 'West of Plum Tree', which went with a 'whoosh' when I lit it. It scorched the plum tree and the rose bush, which I'm hoping will recover their leaves within a few weeks. Still, the clay soil was well-baked, leaving a lovely large pile of ash for spreading around the garden. The next lot is now accumulating in 'Strawberry', hopefully the strawberry plants won't suffer the same fate.

A visit to the garden centre procured a bag of half-priced, and well-chitted, seed potatoes. I planted these straight away, filling the enlarged 'Midsummer' plot and the standby 'Mint' plot, which I'd planned to retire and grass over. I'd obviously failed to harvest some of last year's crop, evidenced by the 'volunteer' plants pushing through in 'Strawberry'. These also went to 'Mint' - I saw no reason to throw them away.

The leeks in 'Raspberry' and garlic in 'Bonfire' are looking good; the leeks are excellent steamed; the only problem is that soil gets trapped between the leaves.

Indoors, I've planted tomatoes (five varieties), marrow/courgette, pumpkin (didn't germinate!) and butternut squash. For the front garden, I've got sunflowers and hollyhocks to grow in sandy soil against a west-facing wall. My sister gave me a load of zonal geranium plants to add to those that fill the windowsills at the moment - I'm running out of space.

The lilac and flowering currants put on a really good show this year, as did the bulbs, and the wallflowers now brighten the garden with their yellows, oranges and dark red blooms. So the gardening year is well underway, and I'm looking forward to making the front garden as decorative as the back. I'd also like some rain, so I don't have to water everything so often!
raspberryfool: (Gardening)
I can't believe it's the end of September already. the lovely warm and sunny days have been brilliant, but winter is coming and I've started to clean up the garden in preparation for the long, dark days ahead. cut for waffle... )