My dad was a man of few words. So much so, that you would often think he hadn’t been listening to your conversation at all. Then, he would leave you speechless later on when you wandered through the garden together and he dispensed his pearls of wisdom. One such little nugget was in relation to my day job. He said you should under-promise and over-deliver. People preferred that infinitely to some who over-promised and under-delivered. Fairly straightforward advice. General rule for life surely? Easy to follow? Sadly no.
I struggle to say no when asked to do things. Need a volunteer for something? I’m your woman. Stuck between a rock and a hard place and need a dig out? No problem. Want twenty jobs done by Tuesday in exchange for a cup of tea? Makes total sense. You see, I am an overachiever. No. Wait. I’m an over-reacher and an underachiever. August’s list was a mixed bag and fell somewhat short of the mark. The duck pond remains out of order. The fruit trees were pruned and various cuttings taken of plants. But the green manure hasn’t sprouted yet and the fruit bushes remain unpruned. Strawberry runners were set and tomato plants fed. But they definitely weren’t watered everyday. If I’m honest, I knew as I typed it that that particular item wouldn’t happen. But God loves a trier. So we’ll start again.
- Sow salad crops. I haven’t quite missed the boat with these altogether yet. I did sow swiss chard and spinach in August. The swiss chard is coming along but the spinach has made no appearance yet. So we’ll try again. The swiss chard should keep us in greens until spring and we’ll hope for better things with the spinach and a few other greens.
- Sow kale. My neighbour gave me a few leaves of his recently and they were delicious fried up. He says they are ridiculously easy to grow so that bodes well. Apparently, if I had been organised, now is the time to plant out my spring cabbages and broccoli. I missed that boat so kale will fill a hole.
Sow winter potatoes. I kept hearing about winter spuds and was intrigued. Turns out, they aren’t some new fancy variety of potatoes. They are simply seed potatoes which have been cold stored and retarded. They need all the same conditions as regular potatoes to grow. So if I’m going to try them, now is the time to do it. I could plant them in the polytunnel, but I want to give it a break after my Great Spud Experiment. So I’ll plant a few in a grow bag and water well while the weather is good so they put on as much growth as possible.
- Thin out apple crop to prevent brown rot. In an ideal world I would pruned in the spring time and then again in the autumn. The spring pruning would have lessened the load of apples so that what was left would ripen well. As it is everything is very closely packed and not a lot of ventilation getting around. If brown rot strikes, it’ll spread quickly.
- Sow green manure. I tried planting rye seeds in the former potato beds in the tunnel. No sign of anything happening. I hope I’m not just feeding the wildlife. But we’ll try one more time.
Sow hardy annuals. As I lift my cabbages out of the beds and the lupins and lillies die back, I’ll be left with a lot of exposed earth over winter. Think I’ll sow hardy annuals to tackle the problem of bare earth and that way I’ll have bigger and better flowers a month earlier next year and look super organised. Going to keep an eye out for packets of seeds like calendula, Californian poppies, larkspurs or maybe try some nigella which I hear a lot about.
- Harden off chrysanthemums. I have a small pot of chrysanthemums I was given as a present. They have finished flowering indoors even though another one I have outside is only just coming into flower. Go figure. Anyway, I’ll re-pot the indoor one giving it more room and harden it off to plant out. I hear that they will flourish outdoors and far from being a little small plant that they are trained and shaped into in the shops, it may grown into a big bush about five foot high.
- Water cuttings. I have a propagation experiment underway with various herbaceous cuttings and a few dogwood and viburnum. Let’s hope some survive. I’ll pop them into tunnel and water every (second) day. Let’s not get too enthusiastic based on my track record. Besides, I hear some plants thrive on neglect!
Harvest! Harvest tomatoes. Eat fresh, throw into sauces, roast them, make chutneys, relishes. Pick peppers. Pick apples. Make tarts and crumbles and stewed apple to freeze. Dry sage and oregano. If I manage to find any onions amongst the snapdragons and sweet peas that haven’t gone to seed yet, I’ll lift them now. I’ll be keeping an eye out for autumn raspberries too. If I can get to them before the birds.
- Ducklings! Fingers crossed mammy duck follows through on her threat to sit on another clutch of eggs. Ducklings are hilarious to watch. The last time we got ducklings, we pulled two chairs up outside the duck pen and sat down with our cups of coffee to watch Duck TV.
Ooooo….coffee. That list is long enough. I’m off to brew up a pot and watch Hen TV till there are ducklings.