It’s Chriiiiistmas! My most favourite time of the year. Because I get to put up my snow village, and dust off all my lovely Christmas ornaments, and drink Baileys every night without guilt. And of course snuggle down with my boys infront of a roaring fire and force them to watch The Snowman again, and again.
But also lovely, lovely gardening gifts. I can but dream.
Raffia – for tying all those bunches of Carrots together or gifting some Sunflowers to the neighbours.
Tool Belt – So I can at least like I know what I’m doing.
Orchard ladders – for those of us who are planning to have trees to prune come this time next year!
The New English Garden – A new book by Tim Richardson
Decomposition Notebook – I already have one but they are just lovely.
Pre-lit branches – You can find them just about anywhere really.
Micro Greens Seeds – I’d like to jump on that bandwagon.
Dramm Garden Hose – ooh colourful
Vintage Seed Packets – I could just put new seed in them!
Old Tools – Yard sales and flea markets are the best place for these.
Hunter Wellies – I promise never to get lost in my garden again.
Print of Granchester Orchard – ah, England my England.
Miniature Glass Greenhouse – I know!
Well, my Fig tree has one Fig on it. It’s a start! And everyone has to start somewhere, even a tiny Fig tree that in about 15 year time will dominate the garden (that’s the plan). But I’ll take one Fig. I fretted over whether to pick it (as you do when there is but one). And I observed it as it started to move from horizontal to the tree to more curved over like it was loaded with juice. Then yesterday I touched it to give it a squeeze and it came off in my hand. Now if ever there was a sign that it’s ready…
It tasted very fragrant, like the best fig flavour you can think of. But… it wasn’t very juicy. Almost dry. Maybe I let it go too long. Anyone have any nuggets of advice on Figs?
I planted a Medlar tree last Spring. I don’t know why but the moment I first saw a Medlar I knew that I would have to plant one at some time. And the minute I had the space to do it, I did.
I first saw one at The Courts Garden, a National Trust property near Bath that I visited a lot when I lived in the UK. The tree wasn’t very big – I’m estimating around 12 foot high but it was perfectly proportioned. It bloomed with white flowers in the Spring and dangled with brown jewel-like fruit in Autumn.
I never dared to touch the fruit (someone might see me!) and so I didn’t know what a Medlar tasted like. I had heard that it was one of the oldest fruits that we still cultivate and that it had been popular in Medieval times.
The fruits aren’t that big, say the size of a small Tomato, and they hold onto the tree way past leaf fall and into the Winter. Infact, the softer the fruit the better they taste. They need to be bletted or rotted before they are soft enough to eat. Before that they are just like hard crab Apples, ie. bitter and yuk!
My Medlar has done surprisingly well. It has coped with both my clay, waterlogged soil and near drought conditions in the summer! It also had some lovely orange leaves in the Autumn.
Now there are six fruits on my tree. I’m surprised since I only planted it last year. I could see that they were ready because they were drooping down and when I squeezed them they were soft and bouncy.
So here they are. And it’s time to taste my first one! The taste is interesting. It’s like stewed Apple but fresher and with more caramel. I like it! There are stones in there so you have to avoid them. And the flesh is so soft that you really have to eat it with a spoon. And… there isn’t much of it. But… my curiosity is filled. I now have my very own piece of history, growing in my garden.
The frost has arrived. And while some of the garden looks lovely covered in frost.
Some of it has keeled over as a result. Like these Nasturtiums.
My Rainbow Chard wilted a little but then bounced back once the sun came out.
This is my Celery – waiting to be picked to make stuffing for Thanksgiving.
And the sturdy Cavolo Nero that was planted so, so long ago.
Even my cover crops were knocked back. It was a severe frost.
What a difference three weeks makes! I planted these Lettuce seedlings on Oct 28th and just look at them now. They are so perfect! Of course they have been cosseted in my greenhouse with the door and windows firmly shut. And so even though there is frost on the ground today they are tucked up all cosy.
We’ll be eating these soon and boy will they taste good. I think the fewer plants you have the more special the harvest.
But I just love to see things grow. It’s the before and after that gets me every time.
Wow! Is it that time of year already? It seems like yesterday that I was picking Lettuces but now it’s time to start thinking about next year and planting Garlic again. I suppose on the surface of it, kitchen gardening looks a lot like doing the same thing over and over again every year. But it’s not like that, is it?
Yes, sometimes it feels a bit like groundhog day when it comes to planting things like Garlic again but the choices are endless and that for me is what makes it exciting. I’ve been growing vegetables for over eight years and every year my garden is completely different. Not only do I have a go a different varieties but also my successes and failures are different too. Some years are just good for certain vegetables and bad for others. This year for instance I managed to kill all my pumpkin seedlings by forgetting to water them in the hot greenhouse. So no pumpkins for me but my Tomatoes were out of this world.
I’ve learned a lot about growing vegetables and should have it ‘down pat’ but it’s not that easy. Even if you do everything ‘right’ sometimes it just doesn’t work out. Sometimes the slugs mow down your seedlings (I should make a T-shirt that says that…). But that’s what makes it challenging, for me.
About this time of year I chop my Chives down to the ground. You can leave them to get hit by the frost but they look so messy when I do that. I prefer to have their little stubbly leaves down the side of the pathway instead. It’s definitely getting colder! Brrrrr.
It’s time to clear away the Tomatoes in the greenhouse and start to think about using the raised bed for something else.
When I took out the Tomatoes the bed was half empty of soil so I bought some new potting mix to build it back up again.
Then I planted some Winter Density Lettuce that I had sowed a few weeks ago.
And I filled in the gaps by sowing a row or two of Radish, Bok Choi and Rocket (Arugula). Job done. It won’t be feeding the five thousand but at least we will have some Lettuce for Winter.
At the pumpkin patch. Along with the thousands of other people on this gorgeous day!
A couple of weeks ago I sowed a green manure in the beds that were empty. I chose Crimson Clover because in the Spring I had seen some that was flowering in an allotment near our local school. It was beautiful. It had long, nodding fluffy heads of the most amazing red wine colour. When I saw it, I thought, my garden could do with some of that in the Spring time. And so here it is.
And boy does it grow fast! I’m assuming it grows quickly now, and then slows right down during the colder months only to spring back into action later. I do hope so otherwise my whole garden will be Crimson Clover pretty soon!
I’m actively trying to ‘put my garden to bed’ this Winter instead of just leaving the soil open to wash away with the rain and grow weeds. Having lush green growth at this time of year certainly beats bare empty soil.
Crimson Clover will germinate pretty easily now while it’s relatively warm but if you want to sow some green manure later in the season Rye Grass will germinate at lower temperatures. I’ve sown some of that too but it has yet to appear. I have heard that Rye Grass is difficult to dig in as it re-sprouts quite easily. I’ll keep and eye on that and report back.
But I really like the idea of using plants to improve the soil. It seems like the natural thing to do. I don’t know about you but I simply can’t make compost in the quantities needed to cover my whole kitchen garden so I need another way to improve my soil that’s easy and cheap.