6 Oct 2013

Autumn, officially

There's no denying the need for a cardigan or jacket outdoors in the last few weeks. The temperatures have dipped, skies are (mostly) grey - today being an exception -  and I'm back at college for the next year of Garden Design training. So that's it for another year.

I rather enjoy autumn, the chance to pack it all away (and make space for winter veg) while the weather is just nice enough to be outside, the trees being laden with berries, leaves turning the most glorious shades of burgundy, red, yellow and acorns (lots of them!) appearing on the ground.

Orach seed heads
Orach (aka Mountain Spinach); stems are great cut for a flower vase in the late summer.
Stems left on the plant into autumn quickly develop brown seedheads.
In order to embrace the year's end,  I started tidying up the food growing areas last week and set off with a roll of garden waste bags and my secateurs.  I didn't get far with this, the garden is a bit lush at the moment so there's plenty to do. I cut down tall sunflowers that were leaning at a 45˚ angle, saving the seed heads for the birds. I cut down most of the Orach plants covered in seed heads as every one of these pods has the potential to burst into life next year (and take over the plot). And I also cut back some of the fennel seedheads for the same reason! (A bit of a theme developing there!) Those three jobs just about took up my gardening session.

Sunflower seedheads

Although the weather's feeling autumnal, there's still plenty to eat. Tomatoes, sweet corn and apples are still slowly ripening in the veg patch. I had home-grown tomatoes on toast for a late supper last night, one of my favourite quick snacks. I didn't need many as the Sub-Arctic and First in Field toms are almost a meal in themselves, weighing in at around 100g apiece! (And frequently falling off the vine due to their weight and needing to be ripened in the banana bowl.)

Tomato collage

I've grown several varieties this year - Yellow Pear, Outdoor Girl, Sub-Arctic and First in Field, the last two being a larger variety.  All are supposed to do well if grown outdoors in the UK climate. I bought some compostable tomato buckets to plant them in; these are supposed to let the deeper roots search out water in the ground so only the uppermost roots need feeding and this is done by only watering into the bucket area.  Very neat.  Having a proper warm summer probably helped but there's no denying that I've enjoyed good harvests - not massive deluges of tomatoes but just a gentle daily trickle of ripening tomatoes, enough for a salad or gardening snack.  The self-seeded Cherriettes of Fire (bottom right, above), a tiny centimetre wide fruit, have been perfect for snacking and the children love them as well. I allow the end of season fruits to fall back into the compost and rot down there, knowing that that's next year's tomato sowing taken care of!

Tomato 'buckets'  - quite hard to see as they blend in with the soil! 

It's interesting to look back and think about what worked and what didn't at the end of each growing year, especially if you have limited space, like me.  The big issue this year has been having enough time to look after the garden so crops that look after themselves (bar a bit of feeding and staking) such as these tomatoes, beans and potatoes, are a boon.  There seems to be a lot of reward for very little effort!  The biggest issue this year, though, has been the cat/fox visitors and their calling cards.  Some serious thinking is needed to come up with a solution to keep them at bay while keeping the beds easily accessible to gardeners! 

24 comments:

  1. I think had a self-seeded "Cheriettes of Fire" tomato last year. I never sowed any, so goodness only knows where they came from, but I had a plant with really tiny fruits, which came up amongst my Runner Beans. Also had the same problem as you with "calling cards" from the foxes... BTW, I have grown a tomato called "Sub-Arctic Plenty". Is this the same one as the one to which you refer?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mark I think our feathered friends may be responsible for your self-seeded tiny tomato! If only it were just calling cards from foxes but they do love to have a good dig round, disturbing the veg. For that reason, I haven't grown root veg this year, obviously! I think both Sub-Arctic tomatoes are the same one, although I read (Anna Pavord, I think) refer to this variety as a smallish tomato and mine have always been very large!!

      Delete
  2. It has been a pretty good year all round I think especially the bean family. I still have lots of green tomatoes though - all that sun we had, you would have thought it was impossible. Love that photo of the sunflower seedheads. It has been a gorgeous weekend here so I've been catching up with all the bulb planting etc. Hope the nice weather lasts though still loads to do. Have a good week.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Elaine - there's something about the large seedheads that sums up autumn so well, the end of another era. I think the green tomato thing at my end is that I planted them out quite late due to the extended winter although I agree I'm surprised more haven't ripened before now! Bulb planting is next on my list after clearing, looks like it will be time for tulips at the rate I'm going! Weather lasted through today, every day is a bonus at this time of year! Wishing you a lovely week! C xx

      Delete
  3. Lovely things you are still harvesting. I'm very impressed with your tomatoes, and it's always interesting to see what varieties people have grown outdoors. I have the occasional cat here - I hate what they leave behind. I've tried one of those sonar motion detector things (amongst many other things!). I think it did help, and thankfully they haven't been around much lately.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If I could find a solar powered sonar deterrent I'd definitely give it a try! I get so fed up with removing the evidence before I can garden. Even a quick walk around is spoiled by the pong! I had success last year with Sub-Arctic and Outdoor Girl (how could I not grow a tomato with a name like that!) so just keep adding to what works!

      Delete
  4. Your tomatoes looks so stunning. I got so many problem on growing tomatoes this dry season, mostly aphids and caterpillar. But I could harvest the fruits. I never stop plant tomatoes, on container or bed. So in the same time I have so many stage of tomatoes plant, from seedling until fruiting. In my country is not easy to find unusual variety of tomatoes, the seeds still imported.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Endah! We've all suffered with aphids here in the UK, I've got quite used to squishing and squirting them off! They particularly like the fruit trees and broad beans. How wonderful to be able to grow tomatoes all year round - you're making me quite envious!

      Delete
  5. So curious to hear what you've learned so far at your gardening design course so will look to see if you've written any posts about it so far. How long will you be studying for? Are you enjoying it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've already completed one year, equivalent to the RHS level 2, so have absorbed lots of knowledge about gardening basics - relearning all the rules! I really enjoy it - especially learning all the different plants (in Latin!). I'm setting up another blog to record what I'm learning on a weekly basis so that I can look back and revise!! I'll be studying for another year after this one - but the learning never stops, even when reading blogs I find out so much!!

      Delete
  6. "It's interesting to look back and think about what worked and what didn't at the end of each growing year, especially if you have limited space, like me." This is exactly what I love about Autumn as well, chance to take stock for next year...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Elizabeth (love you Woolly Girls!) It IS a great time of year isn't it? I love the seasonality of gardening and really enjoying the moment, there's always something beautiful to see or think about! And every year is a learning curve in the garden! Thanks for commenting!

      Delete
  7. WE went away for a few days and the weather was lovely. Looked poor early morning and then warmed up enough to sit outside with a coffee without a coat! I hope the sunshine has ripened some of the green tomatoes on the ploy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The last of the summer weather seems to be well and truly over now, Sue - the few tomatoes still hanging on outside have been bruised by all the rain we've had recently so I guess that's it for another year - and as Monty Don said last Friday, there's always green tomato chutney!

      Delete
  8. I love the orach flowers. isn't it amazing how much time a bit of cutting back and tidying can take! I never get as far as I think I will. I am looking for recommendations for yellow cherry/small toms, would you recommend Yellow Pear? I grew Gold Nugget again this year, tasty and prolific but a pain to manage as they sprawel really badly.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Janet, lovely to hear from you! I love the orach flowers as well, such an amazing vivid pink! But they are terrors for self seeding - the first puff of wind and those little pods are flying off to find a crack in the pavement or a space between the veg! Vigilance is needed, I've learned! I'll definitely grow Yellow Pear again, they're pretty and small, taste sweet but I found the skins very slightly tough, although this could just be me! They grow tall and straight, I found them easy to manage, not sprawlers at all if you give them a stick for support.

      Delete
  9. I've started my tidying efforts ready for winter, but I've still got lots to do. It's been a fantastic tomato year here, the best I've ever had. The lovely summer obviously helped, though I've still got some green tomatoes waiting to ripen.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's hard to be ruthless and get stuck into the winter tidy up when plants are still growing, Jo! I'm tripping over nasturtiums which, although they look lovely, are really getting a bit triffid like! I think the show really will be over by this weekend, we've not had good weather recently so the garden is starting to look sorry for itself. Good luck with getting through the gardening chores!

      Delete
  10. I also like this time of year. You've clearly been busy, and still had plenty to harvest. Flighty xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When the sun shines, autumn days can be spectacular, Flighty! Sadly, it's all been a bit grim on the weather front of late - and I need it to clear up so that I can get my bulbs in!

      Delete
  11. I loved this wonderful autumnal post and great to see your bumper crop of toms. I've had a good year for spuds and toms too and have roasting my toms with home grown courgettes with garlic....lovely on toast.xxxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mmm, that sounds very tasty, Snowbird! Thank you for your lovely comments, most appreciated! I hope that next year is as good as this one - who can tell? but having bumper harvests bolsters us up for the next year's growing! Thanks for commenting!

      Delete
  12. Mmmm - I know what it is to have fennel seedlings popping up everywhere - so dare I risk orach which looks most attractive? :) As you suggest Caro those plants which more or less look after themselves are a bonus when time is at a premium. I quite like strawberries for the same reason.
    Hope that you come up with an effective deterrent for those unwelcome visitors.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Anna! With self-seeders, what you gain in time saved sowing you lose in weeding! This is especially true of orach but at least the seedlings are easily identifiable being pink stemmed and bronze leaved. I have to learn to be more ruthless but I suspect I'll always allow a few orach plants to creep in - those glorious deep pink autumn seedheads are worth the trouble!
      And I wish I could think of an effective deterrent for the "visitors" but every method is failing me. I'll get my thinking cap on over winter!

      Delete

Comments on my posts are much appreciated and help to build an online community of blog friends. Everyone is welcome! I love to discover new blogs so please leave a comment to introduce yourself.
Caro x

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...