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.

sweet aperitif tomatoes on vine

The first batch of seeds I sowed this year either germinated quickly, became straggly and many died or did not germinate at all.  On the second attempt I sowed far more than I needed not expecting much success. However, all but the cape gooseberries germinated and thrived. Result: too many seedlings.

Basket of Strawberries

In a previous article I lamented the fact that my parsnips had failed. I spoke to soon or was too impatient. A couple of weeks later they appeared. Not all of them but more than half, so there will be enough for Christmas dinner. After a slow start the kale also shot up and not all of it has been eaten by caterpillars. I've used Grazers sprays to fend of caterpillars and slugs but they have only been partially effective. Not sure whether it is the product or my faulty application of it.

Bean garden 2019

In my last article I said we were nearing the end of the broad beans I had grown over winter. That was wrong. We were still harvesting those I'd grown in pots in the greenhouse and then moved outside.  We only started eating those planted directly in the garden  about 10 days ago and there are plenty more on the plants yet. The Webmaster come chef groaned when I said I thought we would have fresh broad beens through to end of September.