Sunday 9th October 2022 – ups and downs

I’ve been feeling very up and down recently (tipped much more in the down direction) and it’s made blogging and, indeed, everything, feel like very hard work. Everything seems to take me longer than I want it to and nothing ever seems to be finished. Ordinarily I would say that a good long stint of gardening would sort me out, but recently I’ve felt so knackered and generally used up that I seem to run out of steam and enthusiasm long before I run out of tasks. Never mind. This too shall pass. In the meantime, things are still getting done, albeit slowly, and there is much in the garden to lift the spirits. Let’s take a look.

For some reason I went all-out with beans for drying this year. I think I was seduced by interesting varieties from the Heritage Seed Library (which all keen UK vegetable gardeners should join, by the way: https://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/hsl). Last year, I failed to dry my pulses quickly enough and a lot of the crops were lost to rot and mould. I need to spread these out somewhere to dry them properly to avoid that happening again. Come the zombie apocalypse, self-sufficiency in an easily-stored protein crop like dried beans will be very useful indeed.
I don’t actually know what these are. I got them last year from the Heritage Seed Library and they’re delicious. They produce a white, very round thing that looks like a cross between a pea and a bean and makes a really nice dried pulse for soups and stews. I think it might be Eastern European. These aren’t quite ready to pick, so Ive taken off some of the foliage to let the light and air get to these pods to finish ripening off a bit. Fingers crossed for a bit of warm dry weather this week.

Two lots of long-suffering brassicas. The collards on the left above are being turned into doilies by caterpillars (how DO the little buggers get in through the butterfly net?). The broccoli on the right is being shredded by the idiot wood pigeons. The collards might bounce back when the temperature drops. The broccoli will not. The only time I like wood pigeons is when they’re in a pie.

This brassica is altogether happier, but how edible it is, well that’s anyone’s guess. This cavalo nero has perennialised (well, it is now in its second year). It is a little munched by critters but doing surprisingly well. The leaves might be a bit tough, but this might be an advantage for soups and stews, where it will hold its form and not go soggy or slimey. Perfect for ribollita!
The squashes are rather small this year – I don’t think I watered diligently enough during the heat, nor did I have them in the best position. I’ve got a sheltered spot with more hours of sun in mind for them next year. We live and learn.
The last of the carrots, with some tiny red onions that had been swamped by other things. The bloody carrot fly has ruined most of these. I will try a veggie mesh tunnel next year. Interesting that the shorter, stubby, less tapered varieties seem to suffer a little less. Earlier sowings do better too. The carrot fly has two key breeding points in the year I believe – I need to pay more attention to when to sow in order to maximise the chances of outwitting them.

The raspberries are still really productive. They are meant to be a mixture of summer and autumn fruiting varieties but they all steadfastly refuse to fruit until autumn – I think this is due to the point in the year at which they get the most direct sun – I think they’re probably a bit shaded here and don’t get going until the point in the year slanting autumn sun has worked its way round the garden in just the right direction. I never planted a golden variety but here we have one, just the same. It tastes exactly the same as its red cousins.

Here we have proof of my indolence: an entire bed of bolted iceberg lettuce. I am considering letting them go to seed and seeing whether I can get viable seed from them, but I think these might be F1 hybrids, so probably not. In the next bed, a selection of perennial divisions and cuttings for friends and family, so I haven’t been completely unproductive. In the top left of the shot you will note a unhappy pieris…
That pieris is getting moved, so we can create a new veg bed in better light. I’m giving up on trying to grow food in this darker corner, instead I’m creating a new semi-shaded seating area. Chief Engineer took on digging duties, closely supervised by the Under-Gardener. I did manage to lift the pieris myself but ran out of steam for planting (though I did manage to lift and move a small lilac tree after that). The pieris got a hefty dose of ericaceous feed and a final warning about bucking its ideas up or getting served with notice to quit.
The beans are taking over the rose arch and I don’t have the energy to argue with them at the moment.
Soggy Bottom really needs taking in hand, but I quite like it semi-wild and it is partly intended as a wildlife haven, so I think I’m likely to keep prioritising other jobs, and just spend a whole day on it when the weather is colder and more has died back.
The callicarpa never fails to delight. It’s utterly unremarkable for much of the year but these berries mean it entirely earns its keep.
Starting to flop over a little now, but these delphiniums have been star performers. Considering how miffy they are about taking off from seed, they really are surprisingly robust once they get going.
A martyr to red spider mite and pot-bound to the point of cruelty, I thought I’d lost this brugmansia in the very hot summer, but potting it on into the nifty planter made by Chief Engineer has saved it and its even had a late flush of flowers. In just a few weeks I’ll be fleecing it every night. It’s a palaver, but it’s worth it for the heavenly smell of the flowers. It roots very easily from cuttings so I’ll take a few before it gets trimmed for the winter.

It’s the usual chaotic jumble, but there’s still quite a pleasing amount of colour in the garden.

I’m with the Under-Gardener today: it all feels like awfully hard work.

Published by Notes from the Under-Gardener

Keen amateur gardener, tending a large home garden growing flowers, fruit and veg, ably supported by husband and dog.

6 thoughts on “Sunday 9th October 2022 – ups and downs

  1. I know how you feel! I am looking at my garden in order to reduce all the maintenance it requires. But it is going to have to wait until the spring before I do anything. Congratulations on all the edibles. I gave up on those other than herbs. And you still have lots of colour. Lots to be proud of.

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    1. Thank you! I say the same every year. I’ve found the productive growing much harder to manage this year, for some reason. The herbaceous border is my favourite thing to work on, but I feel some sort of imperative to grow some food. Every year I think “I just need to be more organised/work harder/plan better…” of course, it never works out that way! I could compromise by growing more perennial food crops…. Perennial kale ‘Pentland Brigg’ has been a revelation, and fruit crops give good value when yield is good. That said, we have had a glut of apples and my hands hurt from peeling and chopping so many for the freezer!! They are Golden Delicious, which neither of us like as eaters. The tree was here when we moved in, why anyone would choose to plant one when there are so many fabulous varieties out there I simply cannot imagine! I am planning a new strawberry bed too – that will take up lots of room and I will need to be more judicious with my annual food crops. Perhaps growing a smaller range of crops in smaller amounts is the answer…

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  2. I think that all that summer heat and a third year of Covid is not helping the strain. Watering all through the drought was hard work and stressful. I’m tired too and my body is moaning. Hopefully we’ll all bounce back after a slower winter garden season. But thank you for including all your photos they are an inspiration.

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    1. It’s reassuring to know I’m not alone Rosie, though I’m sorry to hear you’ve got aches and pains too! I think you’re right, we’re all exhausted and a bit burnt out. Hopefully the winter will be a quiet one and will restore us. Thanks for commenting, it’s really encouraging and uplifting when people take the time to comment. Hope your aches improve soon! 🙂

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  3. Dear Under Gardener, sorry you have been feeling below parr, I too go through these cycles. I love the shape of the those beans and how they look with the other skins so tight around them. My friend Mandy posted on facebook this morning about her apples, and maybe you could just thing of something similar to avoid too much prep. She bakes her eating apples stuffed with sugar, spices etc, I would use my home made mincemeat, and then open freezes them, but packs them all together when hard. She then takes out a couple a few hours before heating and quickly heats them up in her micro. I have no micro so ten minutes in the oven would do, and very little prep each end.

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    1. Thanks Noelle :-). Great idea with the baked apples, my mum used to make those, I haven’t had one for years – healthier than the crumble my husband favours! I will prep a tray of those, thank you for the suggestion! I don’t have a micro either but I’ve always got the oven on for something so it would be efficient too!

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