End of Summer season in the patch

I take my hat off to all our dedicated food growers, especially those who are committed to growing organically. It’s when we have seasons like this I can’t help but wonder how this nation ever got off the ground at all!

As the summer season comes to a close I’ve been trying to sort out the veggie garden to have it ready for some serious, more dedicated growing throughout the year.

I started by moving the 2 compost bins that were in the area where we have just moved a small outbuilding from. This area will become a courtyard and I don’t really want to look out the kitchen window to the bins. The bin made from wire and lined with weed mat contains last seasons leaf mulch and it’s not quite ready to use. I need to work out where this years leaf bin will go. This area does become a natural collection point for the english oak leaves so it can’t be too far away. I will have to move the little blood orange that you can see in the front. This was being espaliered on the wall of the building we moved, so it may end up against the fence.I have previously mentioned how when you clear the compost you discover insidious bits of plastic that you didn’t know you had. Here you can see the remains of a spinach box. I bought it in a box thinking it was plastic free, but as with so many packaged items the plastic is hidden. GRRRR!You can also see here that the paper vacuum cleaner bag still has a bit of decomposing to do. I will just put that into the relocated bin. I am cutting back needing to use bags in the vacuum as I now have a barrel unit that can be emptied directly into the compost (unless it has bits of glass etc in it). The big vac with bags will be used much less frequently.From these 2 compost bins I got enough compost to top dress the big 6 meter long wicking bed and the 3 smaller wicking beds as well as give the orange tree a really good top-dressing.As  always, our last chook Rene was on hand as oversee to the works!

Last men standing.

I removed all of the tomato plants that were passed it and their remains have been put on the bed that will be where corn will be grown next summer. I really should remake this box as it was put together as a temporary bed when we first moved in, but it still has another season in it I think.The remaining tomato plants in this big bed, have had exclusion bags put on the last fruit and I will be planting a green manure crop of mustard seed and assorted seeds that are well beyond their prime and that I am unlikely to plant here. I keep  saying I will rest this bed for a season, but space is just too precious. I guarantee I will still end up using half of the bed for something!I have had marginally more success with pumpkins this season, but they are still not what I would have a hurrah over. The plants that were not going to give any return have also been pulled and put on the pile with the spent tomato plants and I’ve let the ones still performing in, hoping that they will develop and mature some more.There are quite a few small ones still developing but I don’t think they will develop enough  before the cool weather hits. They are pretty though!Remember my experiment of trained versus free range tomatoes? This is a couple of pics of the issues I had with free ranging tomatoes. I don’t think I’ll try that again!

The big success this season is our grapevine, this is performing really well and these grapes are delicious! Although it is a slip grape, supposedly for winemaking, it tastes like passionfruit and we use them just for nibbling on. They do have a few pips but I don’t  mind that.

There are still a few jobs to do but I really enjoyed getting back out into the garden and claiming some thinking time as I worked.


This is a pic of my rye dough that decided it wanted to take over the world. I thought the overnight temperature was going to be quite a bit cooler than it turned out to be, so I gambled on leaving it out on the bench overnight. The lid was nearly at right angles before I removed it! Fortunately I saved it in time and managed to produce some lovely loaves of 50% rye and 50% organic Laucke T55 white flour. The tang in these is amazing!So now I have to decide on what my next ‘get back in control’ jobs will be in the garden. Well, everywhere I think!

Know when to call it quits!

The corn I planted was doing very well, lovely thick stalks, extremely strong-looking plants and I was very excited that I would be able to fill the freezer with cobs this year. That was until we had the weather in January that fried many plants, 44-47 degrees over 5 days in a row and we were away so couldn’t do anything to alleviate the stress. By the time we returned it was quite obvious that the heat had left a  severe impact on many of the plants. I thought I’d sit it out and see if they came good (wishful thinking) but I knew that the likelihood of poor pollination of the corn was high.

Today I bit the bullet and pulled the corn out, all was as I had anticipated, the 3 or 4 cobs (or potential cobs) that I found were not pollinated and only a few kernels were on each. So I filled the compost instead of the freezer! IMG_2948


At least the chooks enjoyed the little that was on them!


I felt that doing a green manure crop in this wicking bed would be beneficial so I added some compost, a sprinkling of lime and scattered a green manure seed blend over the top. Raked it in, when this crop sets seed and flower heads, I will slash and turn it back into the soil.

IMG_2962Today was a beautiful day and I managed to get a few jobs done in the garden as well as dealing with the corn. I removed all the dead flower heads and stalks from plants in the cottage garden, saving seed from some hollyhocks, granny’s bonnets (aquilegia) and lineria. Ooops, forgot to take a photo! We have a lot of wisteria shooting through in several spots around the yard and unfortunately the only was to deal with it is to spray. Great care is taken to ensure the spray does not come into contact with anything else but I hate using it. With many decades of untrained wisteria that we have removed it is bound to be an issue for a couple of years.

Plenty of tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, herbs and spring onions on the harvest plate. Think it might be time to do some of Liz’s Bread and Butter Cucumbers. I made these last year and they are beautiful. I will cut back on the sugar a bit as I found them a bit too sweet for my liking but the spicy blend is gorgeous. A secret that I hate revealing because everyone goes YUCK….is that my favourite sandwich combination is B&B cucumbers with blackberry jam,  butter and really fresh bread. Haven’t had it for years, when you think about it it marries quite a few of the taste senses together. Well that’s my excuse!

IMG_2937I’ve been struggling to keep critters from my kale seedlings and did an experiment using an exclusion bag to see if it helped. Spot the difference!

IMG_2971 IMG_2973I have now covered the bed with some veggie net that should keep the cabbage moth at bay. I planted some broccoli into the same bed so fingers crossed.

IMG_2977I found a little gem in the greenhouse too. When I planted the rockmelons seedlings I really didn’t think I would see any fruit. Well I was wrong! Not huge but it is a rockmelon or as we have until recently called them-cantaloupe.

RockmelonOne of the fun things about renovating an old house is the things you find that reveal a bit of its history. Mr ATMT was worried that the floorboards under the cupboard in the hall (a lovely 60’s addition) may be rotten and seeing as we are planning on having the boards treated fairly soon it was prudent to check. No, all good (well mostly good!) but we found some old newspapers and a letter to Dr Ferguson selling the wonders of a great new drug.


IMG_2922Tea was a quick throw together of tomatoes, salami, roasted sweet potato and eggplant. Thyme, basil and goats cheese all plopped onto some puff pastry and into the toy oven. Looks a bit like a train wreck but it tasted good!