Wednesday 27 November 2019

Life on the Weald - October 2019

Life on the Weald - October 2019

Having lost the last weekend of September, I'm afraid I lost the whole of the first week of October as I was off to Montenegro to speak at the Balkans Parliamentary Forum in Cetinje, followed by a few days of meetings and sight-seeing around Podgorica and the coast.

Cetinje Forum, Montenegro
I think I missed some reasonably good UK weather whilst away, and when I returned there were lots of tomatoes to be harvested.....

5 october
...........and yet more tromboncinos

6 October
The chilli peppers had also ripened whilst I was away.

9 October
The rain had returned but on 10 October, the rain stopped and the sun began to shine so I took the opportunity of clearing the area around the pond where I would like to sow some wild flowers on one side near our sitting out area.  This required the removal of quite a lot of couch grass, bindweed and bramble roots.
10 October
The pond itself was choked with pond weed so I might have a go at clearing it soon, if only to see what has become of the water lily which I planted earlier this year as there is no sign of it on the surface!

The leeks are looking good, but needed hand weeding and I have earthed them up a little to increase the white part.
9 October - Leeks
My grape vines (which have yet to fruit) look healthy, but untidy.  I decided not to prune them yet as this is their first year, and I am trying to train the black grape to grow up the trellis attached to the shed.
9 October - grape vine

9 October - grape vine 
I began to clear one of the raised beds in preparation for my broad beans. It was heavily infested with weeds which had to be dug out.  The soil seems to be very healthy with a plentiful supply of earthworms (of which I am somewhat protective), and transferred some to the wormeries.  I have a new found friend who is also very interested in the worms and the insects and other wildlife that my digging revealed!
9 October - my new found friend

9 October
At last the bed was weed free and ready for sowing

9 October
I decided to sow two double rows of Aquadulce Broad Beans.  I used a dibber to plant them about 2 - 3 inches deep and hope they won't be dug up by mice or other predators.
9 October - ready for the broad beans
Taking advantage of the dry weather, I dug over two of the areas where potatoes had been growing and scattered some winter green manure seeds which will need to be dug in later in the year before they start flowering. 
10 October - ready for sowing

10 October - green manure seeds sown
I have also cleared another raised bed and have sown some meteor peas. These are suitable for October/November outdoor sowing, and have a dwarf habit growing to only 18 inches.  I sowed them about 1 - 1½  inches deep, 2 inches apart in rows 8 inches apart. I sowed two such double rows with about a foot between them. 
Meteor peas sown 10 October
Garden Focussed say these are not the best tasting or sweetest of peas but are among the hardiest and therefore suitable for autumn sowing.  As they are dwarf, they survive on exposed sites and need little support.  They are among the earliest of peas, so hopefully we may have some in the spring!

All seemed to be going well until I inspected my two pumpkins.  One had completely collapsed and turned to mush!

10 October - squish!
This pumpkin didn't make it to Halloween
But thankfully the other was fat and healthy, so not wanting to take risks, I picked it...
10 October

....and took it home

We have loads of apples which are dropping faster than we can pick them and we have given loads away to friends and neighbours for pies, crumbles and for drying.

We have been making more apple jelly and we haven't yet eaten or given away last year's production.  We know what people will be getting for Christmas this year!

Apples ready for cooking

straining the cooked apple pulp

This year's apple jelly
There were more chilli peppers to be harvested.  We freeze them and they can be used as and when needed.  Just take one out of the freezer when needed, chop whilst still frozen and add to whatever dish you are making.

Home brown chillies
It's the middle of October so I thought now is the time to pull up the aubergine plants that had been planted out in the open ground and consign to the compost heap - but surprise, surprise, here was an actual aubergine concealed beneath the foliage!

15 October aubergine from the plot
So I picked this, added it to the two grown in pots at home...

Aubergines from the pots on the patio

.............and made baba ghanoush!

One crop that can be relied upon to keep giving is chard.  I am sure we will continue picking it through the winter.  One of the most popular dishes amongst my friends in Montenegro is "cheese pie"It can take many forms and is a common dish throughout the Balkans, often called Burek, probably originating in central Asia and brought to the region by the Ottomans. The essential ingredients are cheese and filo pastry but one of the added ingredients can be spinach or chard, as in the Greek Spanakopita. With a regular and plentiful supply of chard and spinach, our version of this cheese pie is now regularly on our table.

John's cheese and chard pie

My delicious Spanakopita
We have perpetual beet spinach, white silver leaf chard and rainbow Swiss chard in a variety of colours.
Rainbow and silver leaf chard

15 October chard

We have been virtually self-sufficient in potatoes since April and this month we lifted the last of our 2nd Early Nicola potatoes.

The last of the Nicola potatoes

After all that digging and lifting, the gardener deserves a rest.

But there are still jobs to do.  I regularly inspect the brassicas to check for pests or disease. Fortunately we have been virtually caterpillar free this year.  Some of the Brussels sprouts have aphids, but mostly on the lower florets which I have removed along with any dead or yellowing leaves.  Removing the lower leaves also allows air to circulate and reduce infestation.  We also have kalettes - a cross between kale and sprouts which grow like sprouts but produce open florets.  Our seeds this year were a variety pack so we have both green and purple kalettes and hope to harvest some soon. 


Brussels sprouts

Kalettes forming
Towards the end of the month, tromboncinos were still growing!

The last tromboncino of 2019?

And we picked the last of the raspberries

On 22 October, the broad beans planted thirteen days earlier had sprouted and were beginning to show through.
With a good eye you might just spot the broad beans showing through!
But with the nights drawing in and the temperature falling we abandoned the plot to escape to Spain for the school half-term with some of the children and grandchildren and I swapped the allotment for the Spanish kitchen and a change of diet!

Lubina - oven baked sea bass

My unconventional paella
We discovered some green tinged mushrooms in the market and learned they were a variety of milkcap mushrooms. We haven't yet tried them - that's an adventure to look forward to.

Milkcap mushrooms
The tomatoes are always worth buying

tomatoes from Murcia
Well the half term holidays are almost over and time to start thinking of the cold weather...

Gran Playa, Santa Pola - October 26C
... and all those jobs that need doing on the allotment!

John Austin

Hove, (and other places) October 2019

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