raspberryfool: (Gardening)
Well well, we haven't been here for a while, have we? Since my last post I've been clearing the garden of summer growth, old plants, leaves and rubbish, and to celebrate I had a big bonfire. It made plenty of ash, so that's been scattered around the fruit trees and bushes, and dug into the soil. Small pleasures please small minds...

The plums here were really quite poor this year; when I think of how many jars of jam my dad used to make, as well as plum crumbles to fill our hungry tums throughout the early autumn, I wonder whether that tree is getting to be past its fell-by date. The culprit was mostly brown rot, a fungal disease that spreads with rain from old fruit left on the branches. It spreads really quickly and ruins the crop in days; it's quite sad really. But don't get me wrong, I did have quite a few pounds of plums to make chutney with, and to give away to friends, family and neighbours, so perhaps it's just nostalgia speaking.

I was quite pleased with my potato harvest; I dug around 20 lbs this year -- all Desireé -- from the two beds I used; 'Bonfire' and 'Strawberry 1'. They were mostly quite small, though I did get some larger ones too. The soil in those beds in more suited to root crops than the heavy clay of 'West', though I'm slowly improving the soil structure in the latter. The quality is much better this year too; I didn't notice as much scab and there was hardly any other pest damage (though see later), though the ants did some superficial damage to those in 'Bonfire'.

I took down the WendyHaus in two sessions; it was really easy this time. The plastic covering was still in good condition, which I put down to the location of the top ridge in the centre rather than the edge. I think the location, tucked into a corner between a wall and a hedge, really helped too. I could have left it alone but I'm sure the wind would have wrecked it eventually and whisked it off to grace some unsuspecting neighbour's television aerial, satellite dish, or tree. Besides, the tomato plants inside wouldn't have withstood the first frost on (iirc) 23rd November, so they had to go. Nothing lasts forever; not even tomato plants!

The local moggies have been neglecting their duties. This autumn, I found two mice nesting in the alcove beside the house, right at the back inside an old tea chest beneath all my junk. In fact I'd had the same problem in the summer when I chucked the one mouse I found there into the garden. It must have found itself a mate and returned; the little gits had ripped up some carrier bags and dried poppy heads, though they didn't damage anything important. They'd been eating my potato harvest, which I stored in the adjacent shed. Fortunately they hadn't been there long (only two or three days) and hadn't reproduced, but they damaged a lot of my spuds and I've had to move the crop indoors. I might not have minded if they'd been paying me rent. They've been evicted now; I emptied the tea chest in the road and the little shits ran off, hopefully into the mouth of a passing cat. That'll teach me to leave the garden door open!

So that's about it for this year's garden waffle. The garlic is sown and growing. The pea plants are still up and flowering, although I doubt I'll get my hoped-for late seed crop. There's polytunnel planning and building to be done, and I'm hoping to pave some of the grass immediately outside the garden door. There's the usual umm-ing and ahh-ing about what-to-put-where, what to grow, what to abandon and all that stuff to worry about over winter. So I'm heading back under the duvet where it's warm and leaving the garden to the crows, blackbirds, thrushes, robins and hopefully the local cats -- rather them than a mouse infestation!

Happy Winter, Livejournal.
raspberryfool: (Gardening)
After the successes of previous years, I decided that my tomato shelter—which is intended to keep my plants dry—should be a little more ambitious this year. I'd love a permanent greenhouse or polytunnel, but there's a downside to its permanence. I rotate my crops between the garden beds, hoping to avoid (or at least minimise) disease and pest problems, so a fixed structure didn't seem appropriate for me. My tightwad personality also won't easily allow me to spend upwards of £100 on something that won't make me a penny in cash and only a modest saving in produce. So I decided to build my own! Cut for length, images and boringness! )

It may look like a dog's breakfast but it seems to work well. This morning the temperature inside was 25c; outside it was 17c. My plan is to put tomato plants directly into the soil, where they'll hopefully stay dry and blight-free all summer. My friend Alan named it the Wendy House; I think that's rather fitting so the WendyHaus it is! I'm still waiting for a force ten to rip it all up and wrap it around my neighbour's satellite dish!