Our gardening year begins to slow down about now as most of our autumn tidying has been completed and all our tender perennials have been lifted and put in the greenhouse. The roses have been trimmed to reduce their height so they can cope with the westerly’s that will hit them over the winter. I try to keep the cutting back of perennials to a minimum as we don’t like to see vast patches of bare earth over the winter months. Additionally, this leaves some protection and seed heads for any visitors during the colder months.
Our Delphinium seedlings which were sown in 2011 have put on quite a bit of root and will need some protection against slugs so a top dressing of sharp grit will applied in due course, I am very pleased with the plants that I raised from a £1 packet of seeds from the Delphinium Society. Most of the other perennials are tough so thy will be left to their own devices. Sadly, the annuals are now all past their best so they have been cleared from the borders and composted. The Sweet Peas ‘Matucana’ performed particularly well this year; I managed to save some seeds for next year. My best annual seed sown performers this year have been, Cosmos ‘Purity’` a regular in our borders, bedding dahlias single varieties and Aster ‘Duchess’ mixed. Our hanging baskets and pots have all been cleared of fuchsias and summer bedding and are now full of winter/spring flowering plants. Mostly narcissus, tulips, cyclamen bellis and violas but inter planted with small conifers which we keep small by restricting their root growth in small pots over the summer months. So everything in the garden is going according to plan (so far). I have found this year that there are very few vine weevil grubs perhaps due to the poor weather. However, that cannot be said for lily beetle, I am still finding them, on my penstemons of all places! Some changes are planned for next year by the addition of a new path and an added bed to the fruit garden.
The Kitchen Garden in 2012
Our small kitchen garden has now been cleared of all crops save for the herbs that form the borders of our 20x20ft plot. Our growing plan is limited to vegetables that do not take up too much room, usually we grow those crops that are more flavoursome when picked fresh. I grew potatoes in bags for the first time this year these were a huge success so will be included again next year. For the third year running I have been growing my carrots in pots, very good crops, and no carrot fly. Runner beans have been highly successful even though very late but hardly any damage from sparrows, most had left the garden by the time the flowers opened. I have to admit to another disaster, I have not had any beetroot this year, don’t know why but will try harder next year! Onions and garlic were good this year following a poor garlic harvest last year.
We have had a good year for rhubarb and soft fruit, gooseberries, blackcurrants, blueberries, redcurrants and blackberries so our larder is full as far as jams and preserves and chutneys are concerned and I have been allowed to make wine with the surplus blackberries! My three year old grape, Invicta, provided us with one bunch of grapes this year, not all that large but quite sweet. Sadly our apple and plum crop this year have been very poor mainly due to weather but we managed to make some plum jam and we have three boxes of apples in store. We look forward to better things next year when I hope to grow more veggies in pots and increase the size of the fruit garden.
The greenhouses have now been cleared of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and chillies. The tomatoes and cucumbers were very good this year even though the season was quite short. Again, complete disaster with the peppers and chillies, more my fault than the weather I think, never seem to get the watering right. Here again the larder has been stocked with pasta sauces and dill pickled cucumbers and assorted chutneys.
The large greenhouse is now accommodating our autumn sown annuals and perennials and the tender perennials that have been lifted. My greenhouse grape ‘Muscat of Alexandria’ was purchased at a charity plant sale, I was told that “If I could pick a bunch of grapes from this vine I could call myself a gardener”. Ever the optimist I am still trying.
So, that’s us done more or less for this year just my garlic to sow on 11th November and then we will be off on holiday and back home by mid December and I will then have to think about a bit of seed sowing and fruit pruning, never stops does it?