Sunday, 7 November 2021

Clearing up

Things are dying. More specifically the courgettes are gone, as well as the recent frost has killed off the last of anything else outside, such as the one single Cape Gooseberry that self seeded in the Strawberry beds. The Courgettes are now just semi-dried strips of stems and leaves (and another plant, that of an escaped chard!)

Obviously it's now extremely easy to pull them out and clear them away. But the weeds that surround the existing compost bins are a little harder. The Borage plants still have a few flowers on them, and although the current weather doesn't really permit the bees to fly, it may get warm enough for them to grab the last few bits of nectar they need to see them through the winter so I am very loath to pull those at this stage.

But clearing everything else is just fine. Although not the Chard. It may have self seeded in the pathway, but I am all in favour of it just staying put. If it goes to seed and lets loose a whole load more little plants next year, then more power to it.

Oh, and as to our final courgette count this year...

The 2021 Courgette Tally:

... not bad for only 6 plants. Well OK, four then. Two of them didn't really get anywhere, and one of the plants was probably responsible for about half of the courgettes we ate, as well as two large marrows. Of course we're going to keep the seeds as this is now our tradition and they are a useful and abundant plant. I just wish there was a better way to preserve them other than pickling, which seems to be the best option. They go down a treat with a traditional fish'n'chips.

So clearing the plot is the goal for the rest of the year. Now I've cleared the final part of the big bed where there are two compost bins, I can move the old one which was resident in the old chard bed to start a new bin. The compost in that old bin has been there for a couple of years and will make a damn fine addition when raked out.

What to plant in there next year? No idea as yet. My plans for next year are still not fully formed. But I do still have a lot of clearing to do form this year.

Saturday, 30 October 2021

End of the season

It's not been a good year, and things just aren't growing over winter. Or at least I won't be growing anything over winter.

I have pulled all of the chillies off the plants. There are actually quite a few of them, but most are green, so I'm going to try the old banana trick to get them to ripen and see if that helps. It doesn't really matter too much anyway as I'll probably dry them in a low oven for a few hours before breaking them up into flakes.

The latter half of the year just didn't amount to much to make them achieve their full potential. Even today started out with large amounts of rain, but it did clear up by midday. Even so, it's still a little damp and squidgy underfoot, which makes working the plot a bit awkward. I'll have to try and get things cleared out over the weeks leading up to spring. And since I've just had my booster, it may be possible next year for me to actually go shopping to places like B&Q to get the stuff I need for the plot... like a new wheel barrow.

So anyway, don't expect much in the way of updates until the end-of-year round up (December time) and possibly photos of me clearing up next year.

Sunday, 17 October 2021

Fences don't make good neighbours

So, I've been digging couch grass again. I think it's going to be my lot in life for the foreseeable future. Once again, I'm pulling handfuls of matted interwoven roots and trying my best to get the damn things out. Except there is a problem. A big problem... fences.

I have a fence alongside my plot, where the manure and wood chip bays are. It was erected a while back when it was decided (for the better) that a location was needed to drop off these supplies apart from the car park. Don't get be wrong, they still do drop in the car park, especially when the central area gets overly boggy and they can't get the vehicles in and out, but that's beside the point. These bays are right next to the plot which makes getting hold of these resources really easy and helpful. But there is a big downside... especially when it comes to couch grass... just can't dig it out.

The couch grass is buried and twisted around the fence poles and you need leverage to be able to break it apart and pull it out. Thats just not happening here. I guess from now on, it will always bee my job to pull the couch grass, each and every time I visit the plot. I don't relish that idea.

We managed to pull probably the last two courgettes out. One was hidden in the foliage, and it was more marrow sized. Guess I must have missed that.

The 2021 Courgette Tally:

Sunday, 10 October 2021

Oh what a tangled web we weave

Or rather what a tangled web that Couch Grass roots grow into when you're attempting to dig the blighters out.

I've mentioned before about Couch Grass. It's the most common weed that I have here now that I've spent years eradicating bind weed and brambles. Yes there are the odd bramble or bind weed that rears its ugly head and I can pull but as I've managed to get through the plot I've managed to keep things reasonably under control. But Couch Grass is the pain that just keeps on coming.

It can send out rhizomes that go underneath paths, and any kind of mulch. Which is why, when I put down a load of newspaper and wood chips last year, it didn't work as I hoped. Now I am digging through the same area that I covered trying to dig out these roots. The newspaper is long gone. The woodchips have started to breakdown into decent soil, but it is still quite friable. The problem are these roots.

They criss-cross under and over each other. They form a mat underneath that takes huge amounts of work to get them out. They break easily. So thats what I'm doing. I'm grabbing handfuls at a time and pulling them out. I guess this winter is going to be weed eradication as far as I can because I really need to get on top of this before it gets so much worse.

The Council have sent their contractor it to empty the waste areas, and in doing so they also piled up the woodchips to such an extent that they are now pushing over the fence to the woodchip bay into my plot. No real haslle there over than it's a bit awkward to get past. But as you're walking on top of a load of Couch Grass... so what? At least once I get rid of the stuff it's extremely easy for me to replace all the paths without having to truck it about on my broken barrow. But of course, there is the issue of getting rid of the weeds in the first place.

I've done 3m of pathway in a couple of hours and the damn stuff is still there. It's hard going.

Meanwhile The Wife has been tending to her Strawberry Empire and started planting some of the runners from the strawberry beds, into pots rather than letting them plant themselves into pathways.

So now there are loads of little pots dotted about. She's left the runner intact for now as it does help with keeping the daughter plants alive whilst they settle into their new homes. I'm guessing that next year she might want another bed to let them take over. Or they may just end up filling up odd spots where some of the mothers are not looking so healthy. Or she may want some more planting troughs to put them in. I don't know as yet.

Either way, I'd better hurry up and clear these weeds out so that there is room to move around.

The 2021 Courgette Tally:

Sunday, 3 October 2021

It must be Autumn

It's getting colder and there is certainly more rain in the air. So it must be autumn. And just to prove it, the mushrooms are sprouting.

I use woodchips for all my pathways for this very reason. Woodchips acts as giant sponges for when it rains. They absorb the excess and hold it, gradually releasing it to make it available for the plants in the beds. The beds also do not compact as much, so any weeds that do take hold (and there are a few in the picture above) are easy to pull out, even those with deep tap roots like dock, thistles or dandelions.

Finally they breakdown over timeAnd this is where the biggest benefit comes it. They act as a home and food source for mycelium of various kinds that breakdown the chips and make it available as a nutrient source for the plants. The offshoot of this is that when it starts getting colder the mycelium start sending out their fruiting bodies and hence we get a load of mushrooms.

They're not edible. Well they maybe, I don't know enough about mushrooms to make that decision and there are some very, very poisonous mushrooms out there. So i just let them get on and do their thing of making food for plants.

On the subject of making food, our Aubergines are still in the greenhouse, and they still seem to be in a state of flowering. They have been for the past month. I don't think they're ever going to set fruit now. It's way too late for them.

So there they sit. Is it a waste of time to water them. Probably. But it's not like anything else is happening.

The chillies however are starting to turn a deep purplish colour. They're supposed to be red, but I suspect that this is slow because of how late they are in the season. But at least I may well get some chillies this year. But probably not many of them.

After the recent rains, I decided to pick the two big George's that we have growing on the courgettes.

I don't want to see them rotting in the mud, and it may encourage the plant to put out a final few courgettes before the end of the season.

The 2021 Courgette Tally: