END OF THE HARVESTING SEASON
As the growing season is now all but finished apart from a few winter vegetables, we gather in the last of our crops while still trying to get them ripened off with any promise of a decent sunny day.
Salad crops continue to grow happily from later sowings with good lettuce, spring onions, radish and a weird mixture of leafy plants including mizuna, sorrel, corn salad, polycress, mustard and rocket. It is nice to try new things, and no doubt we will be very healthy, but I still prefer a good lettuce.
All my apples have now been picked and are being sorted out for eating, cooking, storage and wine making. Fiesta, Red Falstaff and Red Devil are all late varieties that get picked on a sunny day in mid October when they are just ripe enough. This year they have all been picked in between rain showers and none of them are fully ripe, (when the seeds have turned black) so I hope they ripen up in store. They all lack normal sweetness this year and Red Falstaff has a bit of scab on the fruit so although I have a great crop a lot of them are destined for wine making. Red Devil has been outstanding. It suffered no disease whatsoever, has given a very heavy crop, and has really brightened up the garden with large scarlet apples that seem to glow. Early tastings indicate that after a couple of weeks of storage it will be a brilliant dessert apple.
Bramley has been a very poor cropper this year and suffered a wee bit of mildew, but it is still hard to beat for a great cooking apple. All damaged, split, scabby and small fruit will be used for making apple pectin to help set jams and plenty left over for a good couple of demijohns where I add raisins and bananas to make my dessert apple sauterne style wine.
This was not their best year. They need warmth, plenty moisture, feeding and sunshine as they are very vigorous growers. They need plenty of large leaves to make food to swell up the pumpkins. I did get the numbers expected, but not at a decent size and there was never enough warmth or sunshine to ripen them up to that brilliant orange colour. I noticed that they were not plentiful in the shops, and the sizes were poor, but prices a lot higher than normal. I will ripen mine indoors though it may be a few months before they find the soup pot.
Every week I manage to get four to six figs just ripe enough to eat. If I leave them any longer on the bush, botrytis will start to rot them. I still have a few left but unless that Indian summer appears it will be hard to get them ripened. However growth has been good so some late summer pruning was carried out to help initiate small fig buds which will carry over to fruit next year.
This is another crop that needs warmth and sunshine.
Black Hamburg in the greenhouse is very slow to ripen with some grapes shrivelling up. However they are very erratic with several bunches maturing, so I am getting grapes, but not like last year.
Flame, my red seedless has been a total failure and produced no grapes at all from two rods.
Perlette, my white muscat flavoured seedless grape produced many huge bunches, but struggled to ripen. Some of the grapes split allowing botrytis to gain a hold, but these were removed as soon as seen. Many grapes dropped off during the ripening period, but those bunches that did ripen gave a fantastic flavoured grape well worth all the trouble.
Brant, my outdoor black grape is giving a nice crop of small bunches, some of which are slowly ripening so they may have to be picked over a few weeks. These will be kept to make a delicious grape juice that can be stored in plastic bottles and frozen to be used at any time.
I must have lost my local blackbird as he was always the first to start sampling them and picking was necessary before he ate the lot. Either he is no longer with us, or he thinks they are just not ready yet.
Plant of the week
Lamium White Nancy is a ground cover hardy perennial plant that loves to brighten up a shady spot in the garden, growing to 6 to 9 inches tall. It will grow in any soil that retains moisture but does not get waterlogged. Although it belongs to the nettle family it has no stings. Propagate it easily by cuttings, division or let it run over the soil where the stems will root on contact with the soil. It has dense variegated foliage that smothers any weeds trying to grow.
Painting of the Month
“Sweet Peppers” is a still life study with some of Asda’s best peppers. This painting is one of many studies in watercolour and acrylic of still life with peppers, mushrooms, cape gooseberries, grapes, bananas and summer fruits. Some of them will be on exhibition at Dundee Art Society winter exhibition in Roseangle Gallery from 2nd to 5th November, together with many more beautiful paintings from the members.