Preparing for Fall

Did so much work in the garden today I formed a blister on my thumb!

The temperature is starting to drop and even though it’s still not raining much, autumn seems to be on the way. Harvesting heaps of tomatoes and potatoes. Dug out all the Cliff Kidney plants today, and dug up some Rua potatoes today but left the plants in for another week or so, along with 2 French green bean plants. Considering some of the tomato plants had a case of early blight, I’m so impressed by how they recovered & so glad I didn’t pull them out entirely. I didn’t even spray them with milk or anti-fungal, just removed the badly affected leaves & created more air circulation, cutting back some of the lovage. I dug out the corn too, the wind just battered them down too much. Only 2 cobs, both pretty small, but will eat them for dinner!

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Did a lot of work trying to refresh some garden beds for the autumn veg that will go in. Dug out the old strawberry plants that were here when I moved in. They only fruited a bit, and I think they’ve done their dash, so better to use the bed for something else now. Put in some zoodoo & some blood & bone fertiliser into all the beds in back. There are some tomatoes, sunflowers, leeks, Jerusalem artichokes, globe artichokes (planted a couple more with the Jerusalem artichokes) in there already. I also planted a teepee & some more French green bean seedlings that were getting too large for the window sill. So hopefully they like the refreshed soil & the feed. I plan to put some rainbow chard in where the strawberries were, some more Brussels sprouts in the bean teepee bed, & when I pull out those tomato plants I’ll probably fill that bed with beetroot.

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I did pull out one watermelon plant – as much as they’re flowering now, there’s no way I’ll see watermelons this year. But it’s good to know how well they actually grow in that space, I just have to plant them earlier next year. I did leave one – just for another week or so until the beetroot & yellow bean seedlings are ready to replace it. It shares the bed with leeks, green beans that are just starting to produce, some snap peas that haven’t flowered yet, and a borage, a calendula & some whirlybird nasturtium that haven’t flowered yet,

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The bees are loving the pumpkin flowers – I’ve only seen one or two small fruit, so hopefully they’ll pollinate a few more. I trimmed the ends of the plant which apparently helps them put all their energy into fruiting instead of creating more flowers. The squash is getting larger, and the cucumber plants are growing – one has even started flowering. I can’t remember which are Lebanese cukes & which are the pickles, but I figure I’ll know when they start producing! I haven’t managed to get the trellis to withstand the strong winds, so need to spend some time carefully digging it in deeper – the one with with the beans is managing to stay where it is, so I know it’s possible!

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The grapevines aren’t producing fruit, but they’re getting longer & bushier

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The blackberries are starting to turn colour – ate a couple yesterday. There’s also a few raspberries growing & starting to turn colour. I was thinking I’d put some arch trellis over them to train them up & over, making a sort of berry arbour.

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There’s a spot next to the house between the deck stairs & the grapevine, so not to let a spot go vacant I replaced the dry rocky soil with zoodoo, stuck in 4 or 5 autumn crocus bulbs & 2 lemon balm plants. I put some crocus bulbs & lemon balm on the other side of the gate too, near the entranceway steps. The lettuce in the box hanging off the fence is doing well as are the petunias on the fence – they’ve ‘died’ down a couple of times, but after some rain (or regular watering) pop back up again looking fresh. .

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I’d made a teepee in a pot for snap peas & sweet peas which I planted direct. Their roots don’t like being disturbed so the ones I’d planted in the windowsill didn’t last long. There was one left there though so I popped it into a neighbouring pot & we’ll see how it goes. I tried to be careful with the roots but at least this way if it dies, it won’t disturb the growing seeds in the teepee pot. I also planted some poppy seedlings (I think! Could be stock…), flat leaf parsley, and Montpellier rougette lettuce (left to right).

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Indoors, I sowed some seeds for autumn: Russian red kale, green kale, long white wonder cucumber (apparently it’s not at all bitter & the skins are very pale yellow), 3 more savoy cabbage, broccoli stems, and some golden wax beans. I also sowed a few dwarf mixed cineraria because the ones I’d planted in the entranceway a while back were destroyed by the cat who kept digging a cool spot to lie in over the hottest part of summer! Hopefully now that it’s getting cooler she’ll leave well enough alone.

So a busy afternoon but very productive. Next weekend I plan to start preparing a raised bed on the ground (unlike the boxes) for the onion seedlings & some rainbow chard, and maybe beets, in soil I’ll prop up with some large stones & wood that’s around the shrubs. And I guess I’ll have to start pulling up the rest of the potatoes & watermelon. Hopefully I can keep the tomatoes going for a few more weeks yet….!

Harvesting: grape & roma tomatoes, basil, strawberries, frilly & little gem lettuce
To do: pull up the potatoes & watermelon, prepare another raised bed, sow some nasturtium & plant the ixia & muscari bulbs, feed & mow the poor dried out lawn!

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