The Home Straight

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3-cucurbit plan: pumpkin, squash & courgette ready at same time

I always get fooled by this time of year. Oh, thing will slow down now the summer’s ending, and I can start catching up on paperwork (accounts, tax return, more crazy book ideas plus more blog posts etc), I say to myself. I can sneak another half hour in bed for a start, methinks. Sadly I get disappointed (although weirdly I’m quite happy to remain busy). Ah yes, harvest time: that means that LOTS of crops need to be picked now, doesn’t it? It’s a funny thing that after all the time growing the blighters, I kinda forget that crops need to be picked as well as weeded, side-shooted etc too. It should be the most exciting part (and for one-shot things such as pumpkins and squash, it really is); but I think I prefer the actual growing to the reward of harvest; the excitement of planting and sowing, and keeping things weed-free. Mind you, at least with harvest you get to enjoy yummy dinners: roast squash, pumpkin pie, carrot cake, juicy salads and casseroles…

IMG-20131007-00617So I have been busier that I expected recently: picking takes up the whole of the mornings now, as the summer crops such as tomatoes, courgette and cucumber continue and the autumn/winter crops such as carrots, beetroot, cabbage, new kale and squash have to be picked. The tomatoes had their final deleafing and side-shooting on Monday; that should keep them going for these last few weeks before they stop when it gets cold around Novemeber.

IMG-20131003-00614Plus I’ve cleared the Fivepenny polytunnel next to the hedge from summer salad leaves, sweet peas and Persian clover green manure; chucked down some green waste compost plus a couple of barrowloads of charcoal finings (to help with drainage and be hosts for beneficial soil organisms), rotovated, put Mypex membrane down, and planted up with winter salads. There’s a 50:50 mix of non-brassica leaves (lettuce, claytonia, endive, chicory, radicchio, shungiko, Bulls blood beetroot leaves) and brassica leaves (baby kale, green & red mizuna, green & red frilly mustards, mibuna and pak choi. These should keep going all winter, and bring some flavour and spice to the cold long nights. When the clocks go back soon, I will have the perfect excuse to spend more time on paperwork (indoors in the warm) – less daylight! Meanwhile I suppose I should make hay while the sun (almost) shines…

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