With the calendar clicking over into September, and a week’s worth of cool rainy days that drift into the sort of nights that need fluffy socks and a quilt to snuggle under, it feels very autumnal around here, even if in my heart I’m holding out for an Indian Summer and a few more balmy blue sky days.
And with autumn it seems as if my growing season is coming to the end this year. I think that a lot of my successes were ‘front loaded’ and have already been harvested and that’s shortened my growing season.
Still, the garden is far from empty. In one bed we have a lone onion waiting for the next time I make something that needs an onion, the weeds that I grew while I was away on holiday and the strawberry plants waiting to be moved. But on the other side my blackcurrant bush remains verdant, there’s still a decent amount of chard, though I’m running out of ideas for it (any recipe suggestions?), and the new strawberries had a great season right up until the rain set in, which can hardly be judged to be their fault.
But I’m paying closest attention to the beans. I’m not actually sure what kind of beans I’m growing so if anyone recognises them let me know, but we have gone from little baby beanlets to something resembling small green beans. I’m watching and waiting and as soon as I’ve got a big enough portion to go with supper they’re going in the pot. Most of them are climbing the wigwam and they’re so pretty I’m seriously tempted to make a bean wigwam next year with room for Pip or Elma to hid inside. Pip already loves to climb into the beds so I think he’d be all for it.
The rest of that bed I don’t think is going to be a success story. Of the two germinating sweetcorn, the littler one has been swallowed up by the bean overflow and the bigger one is just, well not growing any more. It hasn’t go any bigger since we left for Europe and seeing fields with mile after mile of tall strong corn as we drove through France made me realise that ours is just not meeting its expected developmental milestones. I’m going to leave it alone for now but I’m not holding out any hopes of homegrown corn on the cob this year and I’m not sure it’s going to make the try again next year list either.
The ones that will make the list are courgettes and pumpkin. I’ve now had two attempts at growing them, both times from baby plants not seeds and both times the best I’ve got was minute rotting fruit. There is another flower on one of the courgette plants at the moment (which is more than the pumpkin managed this year) but I’m not expecting it to turn into a courgette.
I know it’s possible to grow both around here so I’m either really unlucky or I’m doing something wrong. Next year I think I need more of each so that there are enough flowers to cross pollinate and to not net them so that the bees can get to work. I’m planning on adding at least one more bed next year so I can designate one or a part of one to be for courgettes and pumpkins to give them a bit more space too and we’ll see how we get on. Any top tips or if there’s anything obvious I’m doing wrong, please do tell.
And last but by no means least, I’m harvesting tomatoes. Usually in threes and with the exercise of great restraint to wait until they’re properly ripe and ready. Eaten warmed by the sun at lunchtime, or snaffled first thing in the morning still dressed in the nights’s dew they are a million miles better than any shop bought tomato ever could be and I am so glad they didn’t die while we were travelling.
And so my thoughts turn to next year. Before I go back to work I need to sit down with a pen and paper and map out what we want to grow next year and where we can fit it all in, because if this year has taught me anything, it’s that a pocket handkerchief veggie garden is not going to cut it next year.
The Pocket Handkerchief Garden so far: