Sunday, 21 October 2007

Jack's Back ! 21.10.07

Welcome to Reads Retreat -"A guide to growing veg in raised beds".
As you can see, "Jack Frost" has returned, having been away since 7th February - on his vacation I guess! It's always lovely to see the white grass and feel the cold air around. To me, this is the best time of the year. Sure - first harvest is a good time too, but Jack's return earmarks the start of preparations for next seasons growing.

It's also nice at this time of year to welcome the Robin's back to the garden - a sure sign that autumn is definitely here, and winter is just around the corner! Makes me think of Christmas too.
The thing that we must all remember now, is to make food and water available for the birds. I always try to keep a nut feeder topped up, and maybe a fat ball or two around the garden. If you have a bird bath, make sure it always has water in and when its really cold , a drop of boiling water will melt the ice.

As you can see here, my Christmas spuds are doing really well, and I'm excited about the prospect of digging these up fresh for the festive table. The spuds I planted in the other 2 beds are just starting to show and I'm hopeful that these will mature too.

Well, I've not run out of runner beans yet ! There's still a plethora of them to harvest, and many new flower buds are still appearing.
Today, I picked approx 100 to dry out for seed harvesting, as well as enough for the dinner table - which were very tasty i must add. Next year the beans will be grown in the new raised bed at the end of the plot which you can just see in the picture. I'm also thinking of trying a new variety that Steve is selling on ebay. They are Mergoles, and are apparently a stringless variety with pods about 12" long. I'm always keen to try different varieties, but my existing variety will form my main crop, as they do so well it seems daft not to grow any of them at all ! As for the new bed:

Its starting to fill up! I'm trying to be as cost effective here as possible, as well as providing a good rich base for next years planting. The base layer for this raised bed has been lightly forked over. Next, a generous layer - about 4" of grass cutting's - has been added, before spent garden compost is added on top. Basically, any compost that has been used this year in pots i.e. for growing toms in, will be sprinkled over the top, before I finally add a couple of bags of Garden centre peat free compost . This combination should provide a good growing base. Before the final onset of winter, I will cover the raised bed with mulching cloth. This will prevent light from reaching the soil which in turn will stop any weeds from germinating, and will allow the soil to break down underneath.

Some time in the next week, I will be planting out some garlic ( v. Fokyhama ) that I grew earlier this year. I've waited for a few frosts to come and go, for a couple of reasons:
1. The frost helps to firm up the wet soil before planting and
2. the cold snap conditions the soil nicely.
The reasoning behind planting out the garlic now is that the colder weather, especially the frost, helps the garlic cloves to multiply in the ground, and the moisture contained in the cold soil provides enough moisture to get the bulbs growing well. When I planted earlier in the year, I peeled the cloves before planting, but for the winter lot I will leave them unpeeled, which will provide an extra barrier against them rotting.

My Curly Leaf Kale (v.Frosty) is still struggling, having been munched by caterpillars. There is signs of growth but even this is being attacked. A fellow blogger recommends putting bird food around the plants (hoping the birds might eat the caterpillars too) so I will try this over the next couple of weeks.

My hanging baskets have all but expired, yet the odd flower is battling with the elements for survival. If you "double click" on this image, it will blow the image up to full size, and you will see the frost enveloping the flower. The hanging baskets will be cleared out this week, and any surplus spent compost will go into my new raised bed. I've not decided yet whether or not to plant up a couple of the baskets to provide some winter colour. Guess you'll have to wait and see ".

This is my final view for the week. I spent a couple of hours re finding the path edges, and gained about 6" width the length of the path. Its amazing to me how the grass will grow over the concrete! It's my intention to get rid of the concrete path and lay a brickwork path in it's place. I'll have to see how many bricks I can accumulate and then find the time.
Thats really about it for this week. I hope you have found this an interesting / informative / and even maybe useful read? Thanks to my contributors / comment leavers. It's nice to know I'm doing something right. Take care and enjoy your gardens.


Lesley Jay said...

What a great blog! I have really enjoyed reading it and I would love to try your Grandad's beans. Your Christmas spuds look great, be sure to give them some protection against the frost.

TopVeg said...

Great stuff! Good to see the Christmas potatoes flourishing; watching their progress with interest.
Our runner beans are still producing - amazing at this time of year.
Keep up the good work!