It’s getting cold. It’s sunny out there but the blue sky belies the real chill in the air. The light is fading now at around 4.30pm. With the low sun blocked by surrounding buildings, the gated plot is in shadow much of the afternoon. It’s the end of the growing season.
We’ve cleared the beans, the leggy yellow courgettes (both successful this year), the tomatoes which never got beyond green, the peppers which went black, and the amazing squash in a 12″ pot which by rights should never have fruited. Last week, we harvested two squash.
We’ve lifted the beetroot and thinned the frisee lettuce seedlings which should survive the cold. We debated whether to cut back th lush leaves on the strawberry plants, but decided the cold would probably do this naturally. We’ve potted up plantlets for next year.
The autumn-fruiting raspberries have been left to be expansive, some of their leaves turned to filigree by moths and caterpillars , still producing beautifully coloured berries but sadly with no flavour. We’ll cut back the tops of the canes now to stop the wind whipping through them (thanks, Sue, for this tip) and wait until the winter for pruning back to base.
Meanwhile our orchard is looking very healthy. The trees have grown quickly and the leaves are still glossy dark green. And our salad bed is at risk of becoming a mint bed, as the mints run away gleefully with all the moisture in the soil. Madeleine cut them back last week, but we’ll need to keep them in check.
We’ve planted overwintering onion sets where the beans were, and two varieties of garlic in front of the pear trees. Madeleine used the skins to indicate where the bulbs were planted. We planted winter leaks back in late August. They were looking a bit straggly but should benefit from new mulch and a bit more space now the courgettes are gone.
And we’re mulching … I think the recycled vegetable waste mulch we were donated by Countrystyle last March has been the key to success this year, and we’ve still got quite a bit left. Or could it have been the stable manure, the nettle-rich soil from Brighton Permaculture or even Mark and Daphne’s old wool carpet at the bottom of the central raised beds? This year, of course, we also have our own superb compost (thank-you, composters). These last two weeks, Mark has been creating our own mixture – London Road Gold? – made from one part compost, one part Countrystyle mulch and one part spent grow-bags to dilute it.