Sunday, 18 October 2009

Curtains down

It's the end of the year realistically at my plot and in the garden at home. My harvest for today reflected the dramatic differences in the climate and the effect it has had on what we grow.
A couple of green sweet peppers grown outdoors
Two Butternut Squash
Outdoor tomatoes
Black Grapes

A few years ago, no one knew about the number of squashes available to grow and fewer ate them. Now no self respecting chef leaves butternut risotto off the menu. Grapes were a sign of student holidays, fruit picking in hotter foreign climes. Even now, most grapes are grown under glass. These were in open ground,unprotected from the weather and produced a few small bunches of very sweet if small ripe grapes.
The odd picture that hit me when I approached the plot also made me question the weather. The leaves on all the squash plants, including the courgettes, had been blackened by a frost yet the tomatoes were untouched, and the grape vine was positively thriving.
Maybe we are going to suffer the benefits of the greenhouse effect before the worst comes along.
The downside of autumn is also one of the great pleasures. The frosty mornings highlight the cobwebs and bring a shimmering haze to the first light of the day. The incandescent reds of the foliage on the trees echoes the burnished crimson hues of the evening sunsets. The spring flowers have their bright colours but the autumn has a palette that warms us like the bonfires I will be enjoying as the days get colder and shorter.
When it gets too cold to handle fiddly seeds and to wet to pull weeds, it will be a welcome change to huddle up with a hot coffee in the potting shed or greenhouse and start preparing for next year.
I have sweet pea , early broad bean and early garden pea seeds to sow in pots. I will sow a few outdoors too but the pot will give me a head start and provide substitutes if those outside get eaten by pests or hit by extreme weather or some other disaster.
I grew my sweet peas a few years ago as show blooms. It means more work than normal but rewards you with bigger flowers and longer stems. If I follow that route again, I can blog my methods as I go along.
It's almost time to put the garden to bed . The beds themselves are being cleared and covered for winter.
In the garden, the shrubs are having the last trim of the year, deadheaded and clipped back ready for the big sleep. All the dried stems of the herbaceous plants have been cut back to the soil and composted and the leaves on the trees and hedges are turning into warm red blankets.
It's been a mixed year and I will review it at a later date but I am quite looking forward to the winter season already!

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