My grandchildren have just gone back to school and incredible as it seems, another summer has passed. I am sure we will still get some lovely days and even, maybe, an Indian summer. As far as the garden goes, harvesting is my main task. Every day we are eating at least two or three vegetables from the garden. Tonight, we had runner beans, potatoes, courgettes and carrots, all picked half an hour before dinner. They couldn’t have been fresher. The garden has been neglected a little bit, as Peter and I had a week away, just before the August weekend, always a very busy time and so it went on. What with family and visitors and my ‘day job’, my little patch has been slightly ignored.
Time to get back to work and my first job was to harvest beetroot. I pulled up four 3ft rows of beetroot, the varieties were Bolder (golden) and the very reliable Boltardy. Between them the crop weighed in at 19lbs. Amazing for such a small space especially as they were inter planted with leeks. The leeks aren’t quite so impressive, but I have left them to grow on and fully expect to get a useful harvest later in the year. We love pickled beetroot, and I’ll fill a few jars using a Ballymaloe pickle recipe. I was going to store the rest but on reflection, I think I will make lots of pickle and chutney, as I have already planted a few more rows of beetroot which I hope will grow away throughout the winter to give us early roots in the spring. We have such a mild benign climate that lots of things just keep on growing.
I still have some red cabbage to plant out, I’m hoping I haven’t left it too late again but in the spirit of trial and error, better late than never. I also have a few bulb fennel and kohlrabi plants and some winter salad to fill other gaps. Carrots sown on August 7 are coming through nicely and this time I have the insect netting ready to cover them. I hope this sowing will give me some good clean roots for the winter. Carrot root fly is a real nuisance and can completely ruin a crop.
I am learning a great deal about how to use this small space and what is and isn’t worth growing. The summer has been relatively easy, but the winter will be a real test for me. I know I can grow salads and I have kales doing quite well. The chard is looking good and the parsnips. I have also sown spinach which I might plant out between the leeks, but I think to grow enough onions, leeks and potatoes on such a small scale may well be impossible. Growing what you really enjoy eating is the most important thing as well as eating with the seasons.
My thoughts are now turning to saving seeds and preserving harvests and to this end, on Saturday, September 21 from 2.30pm Madeline McKeever of Brown Envelope Seeds will be here at the Glebe. We are planning an afternoon of discussion on seed saving and growing on a small plot. Details will be on our facebook page and enquiries can be made to email@example.com. We look forward to meeting you then.