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.
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!
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.
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