AUTUMN IN THE GARDEN
Autumn is rapidly coming to an end and winter will follow on pretty quickly, so with this cheery thought we must make sure we are up with events around the garden before wet weather puts a stop to our plans. I always keep an eye on weather forecasts and get outdoors whenever there is a few dry sunny days. Priorities are removing any weeds before the end of the season, raking up leaves for the compost heap and cracking on with the winter digging incorporating heaps of compost for next years plants that prefer good feeding.
Finish off any planting of spring flowering plants as well as bulbs. Every year I buy in new tulip bulbs for my spring bedding displays, but there is always fifty or more good bulbs left over from the previous bedding so I find an empty patch somewhere to plant them and increase the spring show.
This week I have removed another two shrub roses, devastated by the fungus disease blackspot. They were replaced by four hardy outdoor fuchsias Mrs Popple which is very reliable and gets covered in a mass of flowers from summer till the end of November. My existing bushes are still in full flower in spite of four nights of frosts. As the young bushes are quite small the ground around them got my spare tulips so I am guaranteed a good display.
Some rose bushes continue to flower provided they get a few sunny but cold days. Oshima bought from Cockers about ten years ago is a bright red tough rose that just will not go dormant.
Gladioli and chrysanthemums are now finished so can be dug up. The chrysanthemums get labelled and boxed up for over wintering in the cold greenhouse, but the gladioli get dried off and stored under a bench in my frost free garage. Tuberous begonias are also drying off for winter storage.
All my apples are now picked, sorted, cleaned and boxed up for storing in the garage. After finishing off the Discovery, Red Devil, a deep red dessert apple was next for the table, while Fiesta gets a few weeks storage to sweeten up. One tree of Fiesta gave me 43lbs of apples but as it has a biennial tendency I probably won’t get such a heavy crop next year. Red Falstaff was picked in early November, and also gave me a very heavy crop. Finally in mid November I picked the culinary Bramley apples which then got sorted, cleaned and stored.
Windfalls, damaged and small apples are retained for immediate use or wine brewing, which this year will give me at least six demijohns of brew.
Autumn raspberries are now finished, though if you get a few days of sunny weather you will always get a wee worthwhile picking.
Greenhouse grape Black Hamburg continues to ripen and supply us with huge black sweet and very juicy grapes. Outdoor Brant grapes are also continuing to ripen up as the plant takes on its autumn colours. Outdoor grape vines planted in spring have put on excellent growth, with Regent reaching the top of my allotment shed.
Autumn salads are in plentiful supply both outdoors and in my cold greenhouse.
Anna has just created a brilliant soup from the first of my Pumpkins which may look like huge orange courgettes or marrows, but once cut open the texture was clearly of a pumpkin appearance. However I will not be saving any seed this time after last years home saved pumpkin seed was definitely influenced by close proximity to some courgettes.
Its been another fantastic year for beetroot, so soups, boiled and roasted savouries, beetroot risotto, chutney and beetroot chocolate brownies, will all be on the menu courtesy of an excellent beetroot cookery book just published by Christopher Trotter.
Cabbage, Swedes, leeks, parsnips, sprouts and kale will give us fresh supplies for months to come as they have all had a great year.
Plant of the week
Cape gooseberry Physalis edulis has been cropping in my greenhouse since early October, but does need a few dry sunny days to ripen up. I have allowed it to take over the space previously occupied by tomatoes which have now been removed. Prune out side shoots as they develop so the plant can concentrate on swelling up the young fruits in their protective lanterns. I keep trying them outdoors on a south facing fence, but as yet there is just not enough global warming on City Road allotments.