Autumn update

Suddenly it is autumn! It has been a while since I wrote a post mostly because like all gardeners I’ve been busy in the garden, enjoying the summer’s abundance!  Also for the very exciting reason that I’ve been working on the book I am writing with Charles – the first draft is now almost ready to send off to the publisher – Permanent. The publishers have the title, ISBN, cover and press release sorted – more on this soon. Writing a book is a new experience for me: although I’m used to writing articles before and have written part of books , this has been an interesting learning experience, not least trying to juggle writing with work, my own garden and home life and some unexpected challenges.

14233355_10202268038140213_542363128_o

Charles (in the red jacket) talking with some of the visitors on the open day

The Open Day at Homeacres was a great success. We’re not sure how many people came but it was certainly several hundred. I made a lot of cakes for the refreshment stall, which was run by my daughter Caitlin and Charles’ son Edward. There we offer tea, juice and cake for donations to Send a Cow – this raised over £400 for the charity. I set up a stall  for myself in two cleared out bays of the amazing new compost barn, selling copies of Charles’ seven books and veg from the garden, as well as give advice and chatting about growing. It really was rather cosy in there. I had great plans of making an outdoor living space by the end of the day, but Charles is keen to use it to make much needed compost instead 🙂

Homeacres vegetables inspire me to create a wide range of jewel coloured vegan lunches for our gardening courses. There’ll be some of the recipes in our book. Everything is – as much as possible – homegrown and seasonal.  We are not vegan but mostly enjoy a plant based diet, a sustainable way to produce delicious food.

Our day courses at Homeacres also feature in Jini Reddy’s brilliant new book, Wild Times which is full of ideas for wonderful and unusual experiences in nature in Britain.

copy_cover_wild_times_rgb_for_web_1

My garden continues to be wonderfully abundant. From the polytunnel I’ve been especially delighted with the delicious and beautifully unusual aubergines that I’ve grown this year, including Thai Long Green, Pinstripe and the small white egg shaped Pianta del Uovo. The tomatoes, chillies and sweet peppers have been so plentiful and are still cropping.

Some of the harvests from the polytunnel, summer 2016

 

 

I am very happy with the growth of the lemongrass in the polytunnel. Usually I grow it in pots, but thought I’d try it in the ground this year. This was all grown from seed sown in mid spring. Before the winter I’ll preserve some, pot some on and bring it indoors and mulch the rest to see how (and if!) it survives the winter. There’ll be fleece and bubblewrap ready for any particularly cold nights.

Blue Butterfly Peas are growing slowly and have now begun flowering. These really want to grow in more tropical climates and are an experiment – will I be able to harvest some seed this year for next year’s plants, how long will they last as the daylight decreases and temperatures drop? I don’t know yet. This is one of my flowers.

img_7568

At the allotment, the veg has done really well considering I have not been able to get there as much as I wanted. As well as all of the work, I tripped over a flip flop at the start of August, badly injuring my foot, so for a month I was not able to do much of my own gardening after work – it is still not fully healed sadly.

The summer here has been drier than usual yet even though I have not watered the allotment at all, except for watering in new plants, it is looking abundant – a lot of beans, plentiful brassicas, a huge crop of sweetcorn and good sized celeriac. This is thanks to the no dig method of focusing on having healthy soil and spreading mulch on the surface, which helps to keep the ground moist.

The  Mangel-wurzels are huge now – soon I’ll harvest them to make mangel-wurzel wine. It is incredible and makes a person feel , well … Mangelwurzeled!

img_7698

 

More outdoor harvests include fruit and flowers and even outdoor grown sweet peppers. Today (October 9th) I picked my pears – just two from a rescued potted pear tree in my Forest Garden in Pots and 31 from a young pear tree planted in the garden which is on a dwarfing root stock as my garden is not big enough for many large trees. Unfortunately the label has weathered and I can no longer read the variety.

Note to self: write it down!

 

 

 

The kitchen garden where I work at Roth Bar and Grill provides vegetables for the kitchen and a lot of interest for visitors to the restaurant, art gallery and Piet Oudolf garden.

The pumpkins have created so much happiness and many photo opportunities for the visitors – one day I heard some young men singing it a pumpkin song! There is a Pumpkin Festival here on 30th October, with free activities for children.

 

It is a time of transition in all of my gardens as the season becomes more autumnal, so much to do: harvesting, preserving, clearing, pricking out and sowing winter and spring crops, ordering manure for my allotment and work gardens for winter mulching. Most of the planting now will be undercover, except for garlic and broadbeans. I have harvested so much from my own garden and allotment that the freezer is almost bursting and I have nearly run out of places to store things in my house – it is wonderful!