|A bit of a mixed bag-some god, some not so good|
Thursday, 25 October 2012
|be still my growling stomach|
|What a tough job! Chrissy, Catherine & Kathleen|
|Quick! stop chewing! Greg and Pat caught red handed!|
"Autumn Bliss" is the variety Eileen grows for jam making but there are lots more to choose from. We are heading into bare root season when you can buy bundles of raspberries quite cheaply to plant for next summer but if you know someone who has them you can probably get them for free. They are the type of plants that like to invade the garden by means of their intrepid root systems so be warned if you put them in -you will always be giving some rogue ones away.
|the foragers breakfast, our own raspberries and hazelnuts|
My own Autumn raspberries are not great this year, highly disappointing after a great harvest last year. The summer ones grew and fruited well on the heavy clay soil, as did logan berries and all the other hybrid cane fruit but I feel that I must add some manures or compost to this area to really get the crop going for next year.
|Spindle turns blood red before the leaves drop off|
|Michelmas daisies light up the eastern garden|
Not everyone sees it that way. I called in to see Tom just before lunch time. He had that look of work about him, wellies on, wheelbarrow out and the rake in his hand.I stood up talking to him and admiring his flower borders still spilling out clouds of white asslysum and blue lobelia with red salvias and pretty snap dragons in the background (we both agreed it was odd this year how late the snapdragons came).
I admired his window boxes too,still in great condition with the ever generous begonias blooming in profusion. He hadn't realised he could keep them from year to year, so he was delighted with the information that by cutting off the stalks after the first frosts and storing the tubers they would live to grow next year. Frost is on the horizon -as early as tomorrow night. Minus 2 is what we have been promised and Tom's not looking forward to it. "I hate the cold" he said, "give me wind and rain any day, and days like this when it's a crime to be indoors when it's so perfect for working outside". I looked up at the grey sky. The same grey sky that has been overhead for days. That is depressing me beyond belief. That I would swap in the morning for clear sunshine and biting cold but never for wind or rain.I said what I was thinking; "I hope we never get stuck on an island together Tom". He laughed(and I finished the sentence in my own head" because you'll be the first one to die!").
Aren't some people mad? I'm glad I'm not one of them.
Wednesday, 17 October 2012
|pretty cool use of puny pumpkins and autumn leaves|
Anyway. Trying to calm down. I thought of sleepy hollow when I saw this. Nice idea for Halloween, especially if you have a few midget pumpkins in the garden that never made it to size. For a brief how-to click here.
This time of the year, before the real cold arrives the Autumn months become an incubation chamber for every type of virus, flu, cold and stomach upset going the road. Every fecker who coughs, brushes off or even looks at you seems determined to make you ill.Any of you in a GP's office know that "a virus" is just what doctors call anything they can't cure or put a name on. I don't know if this fecking thing is a "virus" but it's annoying. It cost me a chunk of last week, including a fine Saturday when I couldn't lift my head off the couch or look at food-even though it was a gorgeous sunny day and I had a million outdoor plans. Aaaragh!! At least next Saturday will be fine, if I get my energy back to put it to good use.
|good sized parsnips this year|
Sorting! what a pain in the arse that is. But it has to be done if you want to get the best from your bed of carrots/parsnips. Remember you just spent months growing them from seeds, weeding and minding them through the Summer so yes it is worth the hassle of sorting through them to get the best from the crop, no matter what size it is. Waste not want not people-especially so in a bad year! Has anyone noticed the price of spuds?-already! we are in for an expensive winter I think so be as sharp as you can with whatever you have.
|sorting; a two person + one cat job|
Pile no1 is made up of the perfect carrots/parsnips, free of damage of any kind including holes from tunnelling slugs or root flies.
These perfect carrots/parsnips are the only ones that can be stored long term in a bucket/container of sand in layers. Just make sure that each individual carrot/parsnip are not touching off each other in that container.The container can be left outside or left in a shed. You get to use them when you have used up all the other grades of carrot first,(or the in laws come for dinner and offer to help with the veg prep and you want to show off).
Pile no 2 is made up of your second best carrots/parsnips. These are not quite perfect, they have an odd hole or some slight damage. You can't store them long term but you can keep them short term, maybe in a hessian sack in a cold shed. But the plan is to use them in the coming weeks, as much as you can.
|Top grade carrots and parsnips; even with extra legs!|
Pile no 4 our last pile is made up of the totally unusable carrots/parsnips. Ones with so much bad bits you have trouble locating any good bits! These is only one place for these and that's the compost heap.
|the empty carrot bed|
Thursday, 11 October 2012
|bright and cheery for 2013|
PS; West Limerick people bought it in D&M Garden Centre in Croagh
Monday, 8 October 2012
|Spiders web made visible by the mist frames the first rays of sun|
|Be still my beating heart!! Onion sets!|
|the last stragglers in the bed-wild rocket and weeds|
|scutch grass roots|
|Layer of sand added but not dug in -yet|
Next came some serious digging. It was exhausting, and incredibly sweaty. I stood up at one stage, leaned on my fork (in my best co council workers pose) and felt the sweat run down the back of my neck. Outstanding stuff in the month of October!! Why was I exerting myself in the first place you ask? I had two reasons to really thoroughly dig the bed. The first was scutch grass making a small colony in one corner, the other was the fast forward plan of growing carrots with these onions in late spring/early summer next year.
|Leaf mould delivery|
|Snowball sets in|
|Jack and his enormous tunnel sunflower|
To balance out the craziness he is undeniably generous too. I left laden down with black hamburg grapes and cherry tomatoes not to mention all the multiple hugs and kisses! And he was of course his usual entertaining self, telling me an outrageous story about eircom, a €5 bill and a hope to be published in Stub's Gazette!
Really, how could you not visit?
|One man and his tunnel-spot the look of pride!|
|Still fruiting, still ripening and still being fed-tomatoes gone feral!|
Thursday, 4 October 2012
|Excuse the upside down photo-again. This fecking blogger tool does something weird to my photos when it uploads them from the computer though for the life of me I can't figure out why!|
|Tigerella truss ripening through the glass|
There was one exception to the tomato purge a Tigerella that Mary gave me. (thanks Mary!)It turned out to be the healthiest of all the tomato varieties I grew this year. It's leaves are still largely untouched by blight(unlike the rest that were riddled with it) and more to the point it has the best crop of the lot with a number of fine abundant trusses still ripening well on the plant. So the Tigerella was allowed to stay, along with chillies, peppers and aubergines that are still cropping well and an amazing little plant called a pepino melon pear that has fab tasting Chinese gooseberries.
|Eileen explains about tomatoes to some of this years students|
This week at Eileen's I was delighted to see that Eileen shared the idea and has stripped her tunnels of all but the last few plants to make way for winter crops. She is ripening the green ones in batches with bananas. If any of you have never heard of this trick the banana ripens other fruit because it produces lots of ethylene gas-a reason to keep it far away from the other fruit in your kitchen but to keep it cosy with green tomatoes in a drawer or brown bag if you want them to ripen within a week.
|Eileen's tunnel collection basket for green tomatoes and cucumbers|
If you find yourself stuck with a glut of green tomatoes that are refusing to ripen you can make a fantastic chutney out of them. There are lots of recipe's but I have made and really love this one by the great Hugh FW. It also calls for some other things you may have in abundance, courgettes, apples and onions.
Hugh's very funny piece on courgettes and what to do with them
|perfect October morning|
Monday, 1 October 2012
|Eckinville seedling Apples|
Wiser, more experienced people than me have written in depth about the rubbish year it has been for fruit, apples and pears in particular. Despite that Autumn is the time to taste any new apples and review the progress of the apple trees themselves. Even if this year we will have very few to review.
Oddly enough, despite poor crops across the board one little tree coughed up enormous perfect apples as it does each year very reliably. It's called Eckinville seedling. I got it from ISSA and it has the most amazing cooking apples. The tree itself has grown very little in the 6 years it has been here but what it lacks in stem and leaf growth it more than makes up for in enormous fruit. The two branches on it are almost entirely horizontal from fruit production over the last few years and but for the support of nearby blackcurrants one branch would be on the ground. This year it began to put out more branches so hopefully it will start to grow a little more next year. Trees are funny, it can take them a while to really settle in on a new site.
|One incredibly delicious braeburn|
The most important thing I think you must do is taste and assess your apples as early in the life of the tree as possible. Most of us have only so much space. We should grow only fruit that we love to eat or find incredibly tasty to cook. So if any of the apple trees produce inedible fruit they should go. Jack gave me an ornamental crab apple tree called Golden Hornet which he assured me was great for wild life. I have never seen any bird take fruit off that tree. In fact the fruit has often stood on the tree all winter into the following spring!! but it's too small to be useful to me in making crab apple jelly. It might be useful for pollinating other fruit trees but its hopeless in every other respect. I didn't like to throw it out as it was a gift so instead it went into a gap in the hedge where it continues to flower and fruit each year. Likewise I have a pear tree that produces tiny pears. Apart from being tiny they are very woolly in consistency, not amazingly flavoursome and they go off incredibly quickly.Guess where that tree is going this winter?
The only apples left on the trees here are the Keegans crabs, an eating apple again from ISSA. Last year we took a fine bucket of fruit off the tree, this year it will be more like a small basket. Since they don't fall ripe until late October there is plenty of time for the birds to attack them or winds to fell them. In the end it might only be a handful of tarty green apples to make wonderful juice from or eat fresh.
|apple store from www.worm.co.uk|
|cinderella, buttercup, musquee de provence,uchiki kuri and mixed winter squash|
|you can see the cracking and changing colour on the stem here|
|leave a "cork on the bottle" when you cut the pumpkin from the plant|
|my trained pumpkin handler holds a cinderella pumpkin|
|curing at the back door|