Monday, 28 September 2015

September 27th in the South West

Definitely Autumnal! A and E visited The Orchard to see how things are looking there in readiness for S coming back this week! Lots of things still going on, although it's coming to the end of the season...

R's wonderful brassicas!

Sunflowers still going

One of the last corn-on-the-cobs (delicious apparently).

Apples looking beautiful in the evening sunshine.

The last of the flowers - what beautiful autumnal colours the rudbekia are.

Things slowing down in The Garden as well. After the Michaelmas fair success, the sunflowers and sweet peas are going over.

Sorry about the shadow!

This is a serpent radish - takes up an absolutely massive amount of room, and the produce is... okay. Not sure whether A will grow them again.

Jerusalem artichokes lost all their colour now. But making the last of the sun!

Finally, the Bramley is dropping its apples - lots of windfalls up for grabs.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

7 September

We've had sun in the south west for the last few days so the garden has revived from its dankness

Flower wise there are still sweet peas, (we will leave some to set seed now) bright orange and chocolate rudbeckia and calendula, magnificent sunflowers and E's bright dalias everywhere. The white antirhinnums are still flowering and the pink cosmos are scattered through the veg patch. 
Vegetable successes - the beans are at a slow trickle despite

Plans for winter - the new shrubbery bank has the saved  quince from Stradbroke now finally planted, the windfairing tree from the pot under the mulberry and 3 remaindered plants from Sandra's world chosen for berries and colour.

Flowers of the season - dahlias!!

Not great photos, but here they are in all their glory!

Mid September at the orchard

Over at the Orchard

So, S is away for the whole of September (*sobs*), so A and E went round to take a sneaky peak at the Orchard one morning in the fog. We thought the fog would make for some beautiful artistic photos, but it didn't really work so well.

Autumn is really set in! Everything is going over ready for planting out next Spring... Still, there were treasures to be found.

I counted 34 butternut squashes waiting to be picked! That is an amazing number.

Rudbekia still looking gorgeous in all their autumn glory colours.

Still some runner beans! (A didn't manage this year). Cooked up: there's nothing like homegrown. Also took a few sweetcorn cobs - ones past their best for AJ's chickens and a couple for A and J at 2CC.

Bright blue of the cornflowers against the brown of flowers going over. (Sorry it's out of focus!)

The last gladioli! Glorious colours to mark the start of autumn.

So, a little look at the goings on. S and R - hope you're having a great time away, thinking of you here.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Autumn approaching at the Orchard

The flower patch is losing its colour with the cornflowers almost over and the snap dragons looking sad. They have had a second flush in previous years but just one spike per plant this year. Cosmos still producing blooms and the scabious a late addition.
The last gladioli now picked, they have been fantastic. 
Zinnias have been a great success as well.
The stars of the patch are the reliable Rudbekia which are performing magnificently and profusely, providing daily bunches.
We have had the first sweet corn depriving the Badgers of their favourite food. They are getting revenge with the parsnips.
daily raspberries and the wonderful blackberries, so unlike brambles.
The magic beans never give up with bags full every day.
Feeling sad that we are off next week leaving the orchard in full swing but it's been a very good growing year, and fun to record it

Sunday, 16 August 2015

16 August in Coombe cottages garden

Best flowers - gladioli! They are fantastic still and nothing like the gaudy single toned things we think of. They are butterfly faced patterned in pink, orange and gold. A couple bent and snapped so we just HAD to then pick them and give them to Tim and Alyson who have so very generously given us Poppet, an adorable 7 week old black and white kitten who is drawing us away from the garden...

Best fruit - the mulberries are dropping so the nets have gone down this week. As they ripen they become semi-liquid  and then drop. As the tree is as high as the house there is no way we can attempt to pick - the only picking technique we know is to wear waterproofs and shake the free then pick off the ground.. So we wait for them to drop and 'pick the nets' morning and night, filling the freezer, giving them away and eating them at every meal. They have to be used within 8 hours of picking or they go really very mouldy so a lot do reach the compost heap..

Best vegetables - not a great summer for us overall but the 2 cucumber plants in the conservatory have produced 6 huge fruit already and are keeping going. Wonderful flavour. Courgettes a-coming too!

Unwanted guests - do we have Spanish slugs? We are getting a small child's seaside bucket of slugs every time we pick at night. There seem to be a huge crop of large orangey 8cm ish ones around - the grass is littered with them disgustingly, as well as the normal slightly stripey 2 cm ish ones, the big black squat ones and the tiny white ones. Apparently Spanish slugs are bigger than our usual ones so maybe they have reached Winscombe...We think we will have to do a slug identification course. Control  is by physical removal to a salty bucket or by our resident toads. The toads seem in good heart so were not sure what's going on this year but the dahlias, winter salad greens and squashes are all getting quite a lot of damage. The mizuna has completely disappeared! 

Mulberry folklorePyramus and Thisbe, the ill-fated lovers of Roman mythology, are said to have met their tragic deaths near a white mulberry tree. The mulberry tree, being sprinkled with their blood, bore red fruit forever after.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Early August in the Garden

Ten good things about the garden today:

1. Sunshine for the first time in what feels like aaaages. The flowerbed looked luminescent in the dusk. Rudbekia turning from brown to orange.

2. The dahlias are coming out more and more - every day a new one seems to split out if its bud.

3. The sweet peas are still grow-grow-growing!

4. Cutting back the valerian seems to be making them flower even more.

5. The pumpkin towers seem to be working - lots of pumpkins and squashes setting, as well as glorious veg spaghetti. Considering butternut squash for next year...

6. Two new remaindered plants bought by A from Sandra's world - Señorita Blanca and Señorita Rosilitta. (£2 each!) Now out in the garage bed.

7. Glorious cucumbers from the conservatory - on the fourth one already, one huge one on the plant, two medium ones and still more setting!

8. Five tomatoes from the tomato plants! (Edited to add: Six! I got it wrong!)

9. Beautiful bunch of flowers for T's birthday - love-in-a-mist, cosmos, poppies, white antirhinnums, Michaelmas daisies, mint and one piece of clarkia.

10. The Bramleys are all rosy on their tops ready for a bumper autumn harvest.

Interesting facts about cucumbers:

These are apparently all alternative uses for cucumbers... Believe as you wish!

  • Rub cucumber skin on a fogged about post-shower mirror and it will disappear without smears
  • 'Cool as a cucumber' was coined because it actually cools the blood and, applied topically, will reduced facial swelling, hence the use in DIY kits.
  • Cucumbers are a good substitute for chewing gum: the phytochemicals will kill bacteria that cause bad breath.
  • The steam from a boiled cucumber, when breathed in, is a destresser.
  • Waxy skin can be used to erase mistakes when made in pen.
  • Cucumbers are a better pick-me-up than energy drinks due to the preponderance of B vitamins and carbohydrates.
  • Use cucumber slices in a tin to repel pests from your garden. (if only it were that simple...)
  • Cucumbers are a good cure for a hangover.
  • Use cucumber peel instead of shoe polish.
  • A 'green' way to clean sinks etc: rub a cucumber slice on dirty surfaces to remove years of tarnish and bring back the shine.
See if any of these work? Not sure I'll bother...

E x

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

August 4th

A busy week at Coombe cottages!

The allottment bed 
It's  out with the browning feverfew, harvested onions, garlic, peas and potatoes and in with the baby leeks and some winter greens (Chinese cabbage and pak choi), the cosmos and dahlias are taking over a bit in terms of colour and height is now dominated by lots of towers of climbing pumpkins and squashes.

The flower beds
They are spilling over with cat nip, lavender and seeded geraniums and really need tidying but there is still color with the echinops, Michaelmas daisies and cosmos...

The conservatory and Mollytunnel
The cucumber plants have been hugely prolific with fruits a really wonderful flavour, the peppers and chillis had a huge knock back with white fly then a burn like reaction to ecover washing up liquid but are slowly coming back, the geranium are still flowering away, and the tomatoes are coming on despite their dislike of the white polythene of the sheep tunnel. 

The sun bed 
It just keeps going - sunflowers and dahlias out, antirhinnums, poppies, love in the mist,  statice, alliums, rudbeckias, teasels all continuing.

Stars of the week have to be the gladioli still - more colours - I didn't know gladioli could be like this! 

Funny fact of the week about gladioliThe singer Morrissey is known to dance with gladioli, hanging from his back pocket or in his hands, especially during the era of The Smiths.This trait of his was made known in the music video for "This Charming Man", where he swung a bunch of yellow gladioli while singing.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Sunny Sunday at The Orchard

The Orchard enjoyed the deluge last weekend and when we returned from WOMAD it was looking almost tropical with towering sweet corn, beans reaching skywards producing bags and bags of produce, raspberries taking over from loganberries, huge onions from the pound shop and so on.
The flower patch looking colourful and many bunches picked.

Gladioli fabulous despite rust last year. 

The dahlias just too difficult to protect from slugs...maybe in barrels next year. Disappointed that the larkspur did not germinate. Sunflowers looking good. Had a full moon BBQ Friday eve with all garden produce.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Week 12 in the gardens of the west- 22 July

We can't keep up with it all!
20 bags of red currants 14 of red gooseberries 4 of green gooseberries 4 of black currants and more still to come... The Bramley is brimming and the mulberries are getting bigger and slightly pink. It feels like everything is rushing faster and faster.

There are new flowers every day - pink love-in-the-mist:

butterfly gladioli,

bright daylillies, the first of the sunflowers - a dark chocolate variety,

the bright white of the old Michaelmas daisies 

and the wonderful helterskelter tassles of the teasels. 

The vegetables are in abundance too - the best brassicas ever including some very presentable cauliflowers and hispi cabbage, a mountain of peas and a great tangle of pumpkin vines now enveloping all the tiny crannies of old potatoe and broad bean plots. 

Beautiful (but sort of useless for eating) glove artichokes.

Good week in the garden - rain and sun, good for the garden.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Time of plenty-

It feels as though The Orchard is bursting with life at the moment, and there is more produce than we can eat and give away.

I just discovered that the climbing beans have been secretly growing, hiding under all the foliage, and suddenly I had a carrier bag full of beans!

There is masses of soft fruit, shared with the birds, and the badgers are making nightly forages through the rows, bashing down foliage and leaving their marks!
Interestingly, the birds are not so keen on loganberries as they are tart, but we are having to net the sweet raspberries as they are taking them all.

The flower garden is producing many wonderful bunches... either yellows oranges green and white or pinks blues and purples. The gypsophila is great, worth putting in another quick row. Masses of cornflowers, cosmos, snap dragons, long purple spike flowers and here come the gladioli! The dahlias were ravaged by slugs. maybe worth growing in pots first before planting out.

The first sunflower is towering majestically over the flower garden.

All looking good