I’ve spent the last few days in our garden harvesting and preserving produce, taking stock of tasks that I really should do this autumn, and planning additions and changes to the various mini-plots within our acre. Not all will be achieved, I know, but one thing I must do immediately is to take advantage of a very special Dobies’ offer. Whether you want to stock up on flower seeds, order winter bedding plants or splash out on some gardening accessories, then make sure to claim your 10% discount by using the code DOBBANK11 at the basket stage. But HURRY, you only have until mid-day tomorrow (Wednesday 31st), and the offer only applies to orders placed online.
Next task is to do something with all the plums: the Victorias and Warwickshire Droopers have excelled themselves this year; so much so that a branch has snapped on one tree which must be attended to, to avoid disease. The damsons, too, have produced more than we really need – and everyone else has a surplus, so we’ll be delving into the recipes we have been compiling for 40 years: ideal for Christmas gifts and those Christmas bazaars that every community seems to hold these days for fund-raising.
Borlotto beans have been left to dry on the vine, ready to shell and keep for winter-warming soups and stews. They look so cheerful, I can never resist growing them for the colour alone. Next year, maybe, I think I must plan my potager on colour and not just taste. Plant a rainbow; which these days, with so many varieties available, is perfectly possible. I’ve just planted out the veg plants that arrived as plug plants a while back – winter and spring greens – and interspersed these with lettuce that will keep us in salads for quite a while yet.
And such excitement: tomorrow my new hens arrive – to replace the ones that were killed by the neighbour’s marauding dog. I have a new coop all ready for them, obtained from Heritage & Sons, who deliver all over the UK and is really easy to keep clean. It’s very eco-friendly as it is made from recycled plastic materials sourced from farms. The chickens (point-of-lay pullets) are coming from my favourite supplier, Cyril Bason of Craven Arms in Shropshire. I had hoped to be able to replace with an identical breed (Bason White), but no stock was available so I’m taking Rhode Rocks which will lay good brown eggs. It will be so good to put our kitchen scraps to good use; and for winter greenery, I’ll sow perpetual spinach in spare ground.
Last but not least, I have determined not to be too zealous in my end-of-summer tidying. As writer Frank Ronan says, “Don’t be too neat – enjoy the garden’s blowsiness before it disappears.” So leave some overgrowth for hibernating ladybirds, and seedheads for finches and other winter visitors.
In our September newsletter (coming shortly), we will be focussing on the handyman in the garden – and blogging live on the ‘edible gardens’ from the RHS Malvern Autumn Show:
24th & 25th September.