Robin in Winter garden

We've been busy with odd jobs in the garden but so far the winter projects we'd planned have stalled. For a while during the general election campaign gardening took a back seat but we did manage to clear out the old beds and shred material for the compost heap. Plans to replace the rotted wooden edges on our older vegetable beds are on hold because we want to use the boards for making the shuttering for preparing the concrete base for the new poly tunnel. The constant wet weather has completely halted that project. The recent gales have snapped some of the canes we were using for makeshift cloche supports, but other than that no real damage. We have made a start pruning our old apple and pear trees which were neglected for years, sown the first batch of seeds indoors, putting the propagator we bought last Autumn into use for the first time. We have also ordered a few new fruit trees, so plenty to look forward to for the summer. Oh and we have repaired and cleaned the equipment, including a new wheel for our large wheelbarrow. The parts we ordered back in October for repairing our hedge trimmer still have not arrived. 

Bean plants

The first shoots from the onion and garlic sets I planted a few weeks ago are starting to show. The Autumn sown peas, broad beans and lettuce, both indoors and outside have begun to sprout and the lettuces will soon need to be repotted. We are currently in the process of clearing out the greenhouse and, outside, preparing the beds for next spring. The shredder will be working overtime for the next few days. While the soil has been too wet and heavy to dig we have been busy clearing the space for the polytunnel and today we more or less finished. Next stage is to lay a concrete base. 

Old pear tree with pears

It's been a busy week alternating between garden, greenhouse and kitchen depending on the weather. Remaining beetroot and salsify harvested, onions and garlics planted, final tomatoes harvested and vines cut down; peas, broad beans and spring onions sown. Shredder has been working overtime & most of the leaf fall has been gathered into sacks to make leaf mould. We've picked half the apples, sorted and stored them, made several batches of pear jam and assorted chutneys. The winter kale we planted in August is ready to start harvesting, the cabbages are not far behind but still waiting for signs of cauliflowers to develop. Spring brassicas we planted towards the end of September are now well established. Raspberry canes still producing in quantities. All spring flowing bulbs planted. Much tidying and maintenance still to do. Next big project launched - polytunnel ordered.

Autumn raspberry canes

Early Autumn is the best time for my raspberries and this year they have been better than ever, and for once I've beaten the birds to them, so plenty to stir into my yoghurt or just enjoy fresh from the cane. The greenhouse tomato plants have finally started to succumb to the mould that has been affecting the aubergines for weeks. Fortunately they had already started to die back and most of the fruit had been harvested and eaten or processed into bottles, chutneys, jam and sauce. Despite the mould and the consequent reduction of yield we are still harvesting more aubergines than we can eat and today we processed a batch to preserve in oil. The apples and pears are delicious. Still plenty to pick and hopefully some will store until later in the year. First year of growing blueberries. Not many on the small bushes but they are plump, juicy and sweet. 

jars of preserves on dresser shelves

Spent the last few days doing maintenance around the garden, composting and planting spring flowering bulbs. Runner beans and greenhouse plants still producing large quantities although tomatoes are reaching the end. Picked first load of apples yesterday. Very different from last year when we had boxes full of windfall everyday. This year far fewer windfall and much larger fruit! Spent today making jam, chutney and pickling. Collection of jars is growing. Fridge and freezer will soon be full. Planning to try new fermenting jars tomorrow on the last of the summer cabbage.

Between the trees

One of my favourite places in the garden is the little patch of woodland which used to be scruffy lawn. Now it is an area of assorted trees, leaf mould, pine needles, fallen twigs, lichen and dappled shade. I can't claim to have planned it. I planted the trees and then abandoned it for decades before clearing the brush and scrub strangling it from below. Now self set plants are spreading and the only problem is nettles. Spent the afternoon planting woodland bulbs. Hoping for a carpet of colour next spring.