Sunday 27th November 2022 – Good Enough

You wait weeks for a blog post then two come along at once… a low of 3 Celsius is promised tomorrow and the Met Office tends to underestimate the low in our exact location. I’ve been lulled into a false sense of security by the mild autumn and I needed to move quickly today to take the necessary precautions… plus there were a few other jobs I’ve been putting off for weeks…

The garlic and onions lifted at the end of the summer were still in the shed where I’d left them to dry, and were threatening to go mouldy as the shed takes on its winter damp gloom, so I settled down to one of my least favourite jobs and cleaned and tied them for kitchen storage. I had though it had been a bad year, but actually I’ve been using this year’s garlic harvest for months already and have easily already used twice as many onions from the garden as there are here, so that’s not actually such a bad harvest at all. Th.e onions were all grown from seed, and whilst the yield was relatively low, there were none that bolted, which I find always happens with onions grown from sets, so I will stick with growing from seed next year and just adjust my sowing times a bit. The garlic bulbs are small but the cloves are juicy and flavoursome. The red onions are brutally strong, but I look for that in an onion, so I shan’t complain.
Another poppy curiosity, this time a skeletonised seedhead with the remnants of germinated seeds in it. The poppies have behaved a little oddly this year. They’re opium poppies, maybe they’re all high on themselves!
This penstemon keeps on flowering right up to the first frost, which might be tomorrow…

It’s funny how one’s approach to some tasks evolves. Things that one might once have considered an almighty ball-ache become the obvious way to do a thing, after a while… instead of striking cuttings from my salvias and having to cosset baby plants through the winter, my more recent approach is to just lift the plants for overwintering. Monty Don does this with various plants, including his cannas, and I always used to think it looked like far too much bother, but actually it’s much less work. It has the advantage that the plants are more likely to survive; cuttings can always be struck from the over-wintered parents in the spring, when they are easier to care for and more likely to survive; plus the plant bulks up year on year, giving much more impact in the border and creating the potential for divisions, too. Now I’m not saying these plants won’t look sorrowful when they emerge from the greenhouse next year, but they’ll bounce back quickly and be more able to withstand the dreaded mollusc onslaught than tiny offspring could. Yes I know there are too many plants jammed in here too tightly, and I didn’t do an especially god job of potting them. It doesn’t matter. It’s good enough, as is the job I did of putting bubble wrap over the greenhouse louvre. Sometimes getting something done is more important than doing it perfectly. The greenhouse is utterly filthy though. Fingers crossed Chief Engineer will take pity on me and clean it for me in the spring. I am not a suitable height for the job (that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it).

See also pelargoniums. I know I need to trim them down mercilessly. For now, that will keep. Just getting them into the greenhouse today is a triumph. Mostly a triumph over the weather… I feel like I stole a day from the angry rain gods, or something. It has been dismally overcast all day but, mercifully, no rain.
And here’s what came out of the greenhouse for that lot to go in. I just can’t get chrysanthemums right. I fail every year. This year I swore I’d do better and I planted them into the greenhouse border, solemnly swearing to pinch out and disbud religiously. I got bored with that by about June and the damn things turned into giant, leggy, tangled triffids. Really I should have kept them in pots, brought them out of the greenhouse for high summer and put them back in again come autumn, and I think I should have kept pinching out and disbudding throughout. Well, anyway, here are the fistful of blooms salvaged from etiolated 5ft stems. These will probably make an appearance on IAVOM tomorrow, if I can fit it in. And the crowns are all potted up, labelled, and stored in the greenhouse for me to try yet again next year. If anyone has any tips, please do pipe up…
This area will get some attention next. There are strawberries to go in here but those might need to wait now (to my great shame I realise now I don’t know when strawberries are best planted. Bob Flowerdew will know though, so I’ll go and consult the over-crowded bookshelf.) Those artichokes have gone in much too close together, but they’re such beasts that I can’t bear to lift and re-space them, so we’ll just have to see what happens. A forest of artichokes doesn’t sound like such a bad thing, anyway. In the distance, the rose arch has been given proper attention, with a severe prune and tying in (probably the only thing that has had proper attention in the last two months, but then it is one of of my favourite jobs – I am inordinately fond of rose arches in general and that one in particular). The Brussels sprouts in the ramshackle cage just visible on the right are really poor – my husbandry in the sprout department was utterly dreadful this year. I resolve to do better next time. A shorter-growing variety might help, I’m sure such a thing must exist…
The Under-Gardener dislikes the winter intensely, he hates the damp and the cold and does not venture outside unless he really has to. He undertook a perfunctory inspection patrol and waddled back into the house to supervise Chief Engineer from the sofa. One can’t help thinking he has the right idea.

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 27th November 2022 – Good Enough

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