Monday, October 15, 2012

A sunny Sunday's harvest

We're well known for great weather in October and November, and yesterday didn't disappoint. It was as if the sun wanted to prove that it's still powerful and shone from a bright blue sky. Very much to our delight. I had to throw off a few layers; it was getting a bit hot tackling the runner bean plants.
The gardeners came together for a big push, preparing the garden for winter and next year. We had three bags of beans which we cut and threw into the compost bin. When I arrived, they had already pulled out the tomato plants (mainly Gardener's Delight, very delicious by the way), harvested plenty of the remaining green ones, which will be turned into chutney, and cut them to go into the compost. Speaking of which: we have been successfully making our own compost and are using it, which is fantastic, as we wanted get that cycle going. The trick, it seems, is to cut everything into little pieces, particularly the stronger stems of tomatoes, borage, and woody plants. We didn't know that before.
So after we pulled and hacked everything, we had a break with tea and a snack, then discussed what we want to do next year. After three years of experimenting, we have learned what will and will not grow on the roof. We have to work with plenty of restrictions: the grow bags, even through about 30cm deep, it's not enough to grow proper courgettes or squashes, and the roof, which blocked the sun on many days. This year we had a butterfly larvae plaque, and the caterpillars ate most of our Cavalo Nero. I suggested to use an old curtain to keep butterflies from laying eggs, but I'm not sure if the kale will still get enough sun then.
Really successful in that space was: lettuce, chard, spinach, sorrel, herbs (although not this year due to a disease, but the black currant sage is growing beautifully, so is the chervil), rocket, broccoli, garlic, spring onions (again not this year), beans, peas, tomatoes, strawberries (not this year due to the wet), radishes, mizuna,
The little peppers are finally showing, braving the weather; the only chilli we have we gave to the man who made this possible for us to have this garden. I think we'll keep them for next year.
Before we left, we divided the basil between us. I'll make a pesto later to go with spaghetti and some of the tomatoes I've harvested last week (pictures to follow). Overall, I think the garden works well. I harvested a lot over the year and was able to save a few pounds just by using the crop from the garden. But it's not only the saving aspect, it's more the pride of having grown it with my own hands; believe me, it tastes much better, too.
Next Sunday, we'll meet up again and plant Aquadulce beans, more garlic and broccoli. We also want to sow green manure in all the beds we're not using until spring. It's an easy way to enrich used soil. We will rotate the bags as we'd like to have a good crop of strawberries next year.
If you have a garden, there's always something to do. And it's an excellent excuse to leave the house, even when it's cold. 

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