Making the most of the garden

After putting off marking essays over the weekend until today, I finally bit the bullet and got down to the job, punctuated by doing a few tasks in the back garden. It was so lovely to have a few minutes to unwind in the sunshine at the same time as accomplishing so much in one day.

Anyway, rather than dwelling on determining grades, the rundown on what I achieved outside is as follows. First of all, having learned yesterday at Old Sleningford Farm that tomato plants need sun to their roots once it gets to September, I decided to get the secateurs out and take off the remaining branches at the bottom of my plants. Then I cut off a good deal of foliage to maximise the amount of sun getting to the fruit (as well as staking more fruit-bearing branches up). It’s logical when you think about it but why has it taken me four years of growing tomatoes to realise this?!

A few days ago, I had already done likewise with the pumpkin leaves but felt a bit more pruning was in order there, too. The pumpkin is in fact starting to show some signs of ripening, so looks like the Halloween lantern is on course for success. On top of that, what with the tomato leaves coming off as well, the strawberries can see the sunshine now, too.


Pumpkin going orange and denuded tomato plants

On the other hand, the rainbow chard got somewhat charred by the cool temperatures overnight, so that has now gone under cover. The trouble with this is that it then needs watering as no rain can penetrate the plastic cloche. Still, this is hardly an onerous task, all things considered, especially as I have plenty of stored rainwater to last me for the rest of the autumn and beyond!


Rainbow chard under cover

On a different note, the mangetout have come out of the ground. A pity they got attacked by pigeons this year but at least I know to get netting to cover them properly next season. And in their place I have broadcast sown ryegrass seeds (green manure). It says on the packet to be sown under soil but as the seeds are old I thought if the birds got them it would be no great loss. I’ve got a new packet anyway.


Covering the bare ground with ryegrass

Now I am going to pick some nasturtium flowers to cook with rice. I’ve never eaten them before so this will be an experience. How do you think my seven-year-old is going to react to this dish?

© Helen Butt, September 2014

About Helen

I have always been interesting in living a more environmentally friendly lifestyle and used to do what I could. Now, I have come to realise that we have reached such a point in terms of environmental degradation that it is more important - perhaps - to focus on building resilience. I therefore do as much as I can to reuse, grow my own and encourage a supportive community, for example. I also keep reading and learning all the time.
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12 Responses to Making the most of the garden

  1. streepie says:

    My six-year old loves nasturtium flowers! We have a lot of them in our garden by now, and she just picks and eats them. And makes sure that we eat them, too!

  2. Karen says:

    The nasturtium flowers must have given a lovely color to your rice.

    • That’s what I had expected but actually the rice was still white (well, maybe off-white!). Perhaps I should have put more of them in? Anyway, I will experiment while I have flowers – and next year I will definitely grow more.

  3. Wow it sounds like you had a nice Sunday afternoon! Sounds like good advice on the tomatoes. I am amazed how well your pumpkin is doing. I had always been told they are difficult to grow and a lot of work. You make it look easy. It looks like it will be an extra special Halloween for you and your daughter. I think having your own home grown pumpkin will make it extra special memories.
    I liked your little scarecrow. Your garden is looking great.

    • Thank you for your encouraging comment, Honey. Pumpkins are in my experience not difficult to grow. That said, I have found it more difficult this year than previously. For example, the pumpkins from my last packet of seeds didn’t need hand-pollinating (although I knew less about these matters, so may have got more pumpkins had I been more aware). Also, I have noticed that the female flowers last only a short time – blink and they have shrivelled up!

      • I am the only one who likes pumkin pie. That is the only reason I would grow them. I guess I could just buy one instead. I haven’t had a pumkin pie for a couple of years now. I really would like to learn how to grow cantelope next year.We will see what happens.

        • It would be great if you could grow canteloupe next year. Never had pumpkin pie but I would recommend pumpkin cake.

          • I can’t believe that you have never had pumpkin pie. If l ike pumpkin cake it I would also recommend to try pumpkin pie.

          • Pumpkins are a relatively new phenomenon here. When I finally get my oven working I will give the pie a try. Do you know what goes in it apart from pumpkin?

          • Pumpkin pie
            9 Inch –
            2 eggs
            2 cups of cooked pumpkin
            3/4 cup sugar
            1/2 teaspoon salt
            1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
            1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
            1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
            1 2/3 cups of evaporated milk
            Heat oven to 425 F or 218 C
            Prepare one crust pastry. Beat eggs slightly with hand beater; beat in remaining ingredients. Place pastry-lined pie plate on oven rack; pour in filling Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 F or 177C. Bake about 45 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes our clean. Cool and serve with Sweetened whipped Cream.
            I have a no fault pie crust recipe if you need that as well.

          • Thanks, that’s great. I could probably make the pie filling in the slow cooker and eat it with bread.

I love to read about your own experiences and any other feedback you have, so look forward to your comments below.

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