Thursday, 19 September 2019

AUTUMN CROPS


                                                             AUTUMN CROPS

As summer makes way for autumn, the harvesting range of fruit and vegetables changes as most of the soft fruit has been picked as well as summer cabbages, cauliflower, onions, broad beans and early potatoes. The wet but warm summer did the
Picking Seigerrebe grapes
potatoes no favours as marauding slugs and snails just loved the soft fresh leaves. Second early potato Charlotte got picked first followed by maincrop Mayan Gold, then first early Casa Blanca got lifted in August as its leaves lasted a wee bit longer. Finally at the end of August I lifted maincrop Maris Piper as leaves had totally disintegrated in spite of ample dressings of slug pellets, yet there was still a great crop of large clean potatoes.
Aronia crumble bars
Cauliflower, sprouts and cabbages were also badly affected and caterpillars were a real nuisance. Kale seemed to be less affected but some pruning was necessary as growth was so prolific that the normal spacing was just not enough as all brassicas fought for space. Kale should keep us going well throughout autumn and winter. Other winter vegetables of Swedes and leeks will give variety, though many of my leeks have run up to seed. Autumn salads have been sown on land cleared of broad beans to keep the kitchen supplied with lettuce, rocket and spring onions well into winter.
Plum Oullins Golden Gage
Land cleared of potatoes will now get several rows of young wallflower seedlings that were saved from a brilliant display of Cloth of Gold, sown in August and now growing strongly but needing more space. Hopefully these will be ready to plant out in late autumn for flowering next spring.
Autumn raspberry Polka and autumn strawberry Flamenco are both yielding well with plenty fresh fruit and surplus going into the freezer, but lack of sun, still too much rain and lower temperatures adversely affect texture and sweetness.
Pears ripening up
Apple Arbroath Pippin was totally wiped out by brown rot, but now Discovery is ready for picking and other apples looking good. Cooking apple Bramley continues to lose apples as gales tear off fruit, but there is still plenty left for picking in October. Pears and plums are both bearing well this year though a new Victoria plum tree planted two years ago is still too young to bear fruit, but hopefully we shall see a few plums in 2020.
Aronia Viking, the Chokeberry, is giving us heavy crops of black berries. Although I keep eleven pounds for wine brewing (giving me three demijohns) there is still plenty left so Anna can experiment with new ways to use this very healthy berry. She recently bought a brilliant Aronia Berry Recipes cook book published by the Midwest Aronia Association. The Aronia is native to North America and viewed as a power packed superfruit, due to the very high levels of antioxidants.
Anna’s latest creation of Aronia Crumble Bars were unbelievably delicious.
Anna picking Discovery apples
Figs seem to love Scotland outdoors no matter what the weather throws at them though this year massive growth will need some severe pruning once
cropping has finished. Last year I got about 150 figs from two bushes and so far this year cropping has been just as good.
Tomatoes outdoors was better last year as there has been just too much rain and not enough sunshine, unless that jet stream turns north and brings us a warm autumn. However tomatoes in the greenhouse have been prolific and two grape varieties, Solaris and Seigerrebe have now been picked and are in the brewing bucket for a lovely Muscat flavoured wine ready in two years time.
Dave picks his sweet corn

Wee jobs to do this week


Harvest sweet corn after testing ripeness by pulling back some of the sheath and if the corn is yellow and juicy when you push your nail in then they are ready. The crop usually ripens all at the same time so after picking off all the cobs the plants can be pulled up and chopped with a spade before adding them to the compost heap. Ground left bare at this time of year can be sown down with a green manure crop left to grow till digging in during mid winter. Sowing down all empty land after crop harvesting (potatoes, onions, peas, beans, sweet corn) with green manures will create a very fertile soil in the long term making it very easy to dig and all plants will benefit with strong growth.

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