Cape Gooseberry fruit

The third summer since I restored my vegetable garden is drawing to a close. If I've learned anything it is to give up trying to anticipate the seasonal weather.  Our British summer weather is reliably unreliable. After dealing with scorching heat and drought  in 2018 and the warm and wet in 2019, this time it was cool and damp with the odd few days of hot and sunny. Last week the night time temperature was only 2oC above my usual trigger point for bringing out the fleece - and my tomatoes, aubergines, chillis and peppers were still flowering! 

Squash flower

It's raining today so I have postponed some of the tasks I was planning in the garden. A lot has changed since my last blog post. We finished harvesting the purple sprouting broccoli (planted September 2018) the same day (17th May) we harvested our first broad beans and peas from the crop sown and overwintered in the greenhouse. I had transplanted them into approximately 20 litre bags (hadopots), two to a bag, and moved them outside during April.  They easily withstood the late frosts, but next year I'll plant only one bean per bag to give them more space.  

Constructing the frame

April has been a busy month. Constructing our poly-tunnel has taken a lot of our time but we were lucky that the weather was mostly fine. The tunnel is now almost complete; all that remains to be done is covering and hanging the doors. The tomato, cucumber, sweet pepper, chilli and aubergine seedlings are developing well, now in the greenhouse after germinating indoors but it won't be long before we will have to move some to the tunnel.

December garden

The vegetable garden has been left to itself for most of the last month. The continuing rain and wind made it unpleasant and difficult to work. In the drier and sunnier spells most of our time was spent tidying up, cleaning pots, collecting leaves for leaf-mould, storing away equipment for the winter and shredding the last of the beanstalks and raspberry canes for the compost heap. The late fruiting raspberry canes yielded their last small pickings on 5th December - slightly frozen fruits direct from the plant, still tasted good. 

Shelves of bottled preserves

Most of November has been wet and windy so time in the garden has been limited. The holly tree and the hedge rows of holly and hawthorne are loaded with berries, as are the berberis and cotoneaster, and we are wondering how long they will last before the birds have eaten them all. Usually only a matter of weeks so by the time the ice and snow arrives there is little left. 

view of greenhouse from orchard - August

The last couple of months have been a bit hit and miss in the vegetable garden as the wet weather put a dampener on activities. It has all been rather frustrating as the chores have piled up. Never mind we have been busy in the kitchen processing our excess harvest into pickles, chutney, jam and - new to us this year - fermented produce.

tomato vine with red and green tomatoes

At the start of August we planted the new bed with winter brassicas, covered them with super-fine micro mesh and looked forward to curly kale, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower in the darker months to come. Our summer cabbage and kale had been plagued with snails and slugs and, despite the butterfly mesh, ravaged by caterpillars. With the new plantings we were taking no chances. A month later and they are looking good and I've replaced the mesh with standard mesh.