Tag Archive: august


Oranges on Tree‘Sow Cabbages, Carrots, Turneps, purselan – Innoculate oranges and other rare plants: Begin to prune over shady shootes of the Spring, yet so as not to expose the Fruit.’

John Evelyn 1686 (published 1932)

Old School Gardener

Physalis seed pods mark the move into autumn...

Physalis seed pods mark the move into autumn…

Old School Garden – 28th August 2014

To Walter Degrasse

Dear Walter,

The last few weeks have felt more like autumn than summer, here at Old School Garden. The first week of the month was thankfully sunny and warm and coincided with our holiday in Suffolk; you may have seen a couple of articles I’ve posted about some of our visits.

I feel that I’ve been very lazy in the garden over the remaining weeks, just focusing on the ‘ticking over’ tasks of grass cutting, dead heading, watering, feeding and harvesting- and the occasional bit of weeding. Taking it easier seems to have made my back problems disappear, at least for now.

I dug my carrots up the other day and I was relived that this year I seem to have had some success; though a few have been nibbled around the tops and one or two have split or forked, most are what would pass as good specimens for the supermarket (not that this is test of quality of course!). The celery and courgettes and runner beans continue to crop well; I think we’re just about on top of the courgette glut! We’ve discovered a great recipe for ‘Italian style courgette and Parmesan soup’ on the BBC food website– well worth a try if you like a creamy soup with a bit of ‘edge and bite’. cauliflowers and cabbages seem to putting on a lot of leaf, but no heads, so these may be a ‘no show’ this year.

The ‘heritage’ squashes are rampant and I’ve started removing flowers to try to concentrate the energy into fewer fruit; they are colouring up nicely. Cucumbers are exceeding our needs; I must remember to resist the temptation to grow two plants next year. The tomatoes are steady, if not prolific, though recent weather conditions have probably contributed to the re-emergence of blight in the greenhouse. Still,  it seems to be under control, especially as I’ve removed most of the foliage now to try to concentrate the growth into the fruit and to help with ripening.

I’ve also been regularly harvesting plums (including a wonderful crop of cherry plums from a wild tree on our street border), raspberries and more recently blackberries. Both of these berries all seem to be doing well, with good-sized, tasty fruit, though the mystery of my raspberries remains- for the second year now the back half of both the summer and autumn raspberries have not yielded much if any flowers or fruit. I wonder if this is due to some sort of soil deficiency, though many of the summer fruiting plants are old and in need of replacement; but I can’t understand why the back end is so poor, and the otherwise good autumn row is also affected. Yes, they are next to the wood, but they are in full sun  just like the southern end of the rows. Any advice would be welcome! Here are a few pictures of fruit in the garden at present.

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I’ve also harvested my first pears from the two ‘super column’ plants I put in about four years ago. These (Williams and Conference varieties) are looking great (and the first couple of Williams tasted delicious); I must ensure I get to them before the birds do! As I’ve reported before, the apples this year are disappointing; some large cookers have appeared and been used from one of the ‘super columns’, but more generally in the orchard there are very few fruit developing, due to a combination of pest attack and probably the wet, mild spring causing blossom wilt. I’ve now given all the trees and trained fruit their summer prune, cutting back the ‘water shoots’ to encourage spurs to form (I’ve also done the Wisteria).

Begonias keeping the terrace colourful

Begonias keeping the terrace colourful

The ornamental garden areas are hanging on in there, the late summer performers just coming into their own; sedums, grasses, asters, cannas, helianthemum etc. I’ve grown some autumn pansies from seed and also bought a couple of trays to brighten up the containers on the terrace, which are starting to look tired- apart from those full of ‘non stop’, bright red Begonias.

You remember I said that I was going to experiment with the ‘Chelsea Chop’ this year? I’m pleased with the results. I gave many of the sedums this treatment back in May and the plants are now looking squat, bushy and with lots of flower heads starting to colour up, obviating the need for staking and giving a nicely proportioned show. I shall definitely do this again next year.

Sedums given the 'Chelsea Chop'

Sedums given the ‘Chelsea Chop’

The courtyard fruit is also developing, though the recent lack of sun and warmth has obviously checked this to a degree. Still grapes, figs and possibly olives are all on the way; my miniature peach which suffers from Peach leaf curl has now recovered and put on a good show of healthy new leaves, though the fruit, as before, is disappointing. I must take a closer look at what I need to do with this next year.

I’m afraid the excavating moles are still going about their business, and the main lawn is looking very patchy as a result. I’m in two minds about what to do, if anything about this- do I leave well alone and see the, probably enlarged, mole family wreak even more havoc next year, or do I get a ‘mole man’ in to ‘deal’ with them? Despite reading ‘Noah’s Garden’ and its advocacy of an ecological approach to gardening (so I should convert my lawn to meadow to hide the mole hills), I’m not yet convinced of the case for ‘leaving them be’.

As I mentioned last month my gardening support at the two schools has come to an end, though I’m still puttign in some time at Gressenhall Museum to keep on top of a few areas i’ve been involved with. I shall start to look for other projects once September is done; one might be a new project at our nearby National Trust property, Blickling Hall, where they are intending to restore the large walled garden which is currently largely a ‘blank canvas’. I’ll keep you posted.

I hope that you and Lise enjoyed your holiday in Scotland, though I guess that you didn’t have much good weather in the last couple of weeks, like here? We’re off to Devon next week to do some walking. Now that Deborah has retired she has an ambition to do some ‘open moor’ walking, trying to reach as many Dartmoor tors as we can in four or five days- I may be longing for some work in the garden as light relief after this!

All the best Walter, as we’re away towards the end of September, it’ll probably be early October before you hear from me again. I hope that you enjoy the transition to autumn. We’re looking forward to our visit to you in October.

Old School Gardener

 

 

Newly-harvested fields opposite Old School Garden

Newly-harvested fields opposite Old School Garden

‘Suddenly now we see cornfields white,

Ready for harvest, while the summer sun

Shines down with welcome warmth, its brilliant light

Making the heat-haze dance, as one by one

The humming harvesters crawl ‘cross the fields,

And once again good grain the good earth yields.

The roads are busy with the hurrying horde

Of folks on holiday; the heavens are clear

And blue, so very blue, with their reward

For those who have the time to stand and stare.

For there young swallows mount into the sky,

And thistledown upon the breeze dreams by.

Grasshoppers chirr, and where the creeper clings

A peacock butterfly outspreads its wings.’

John (Jack) Kett from ‘A late lark Singing’ (Minerva Press 1997)

See a year’s worth of Norfolk in Poetry by clicking on the category on the right

Old School Gardener

holiday garden

Just click on the picture for a link to this useful article from Grow Veg.

Talking of holidays, I’ll be on holiday myself for a couple of weeks so will reduce my postings a bit during that time. I hope you still enjoy them and I’ll see you again at the end of August (hopefully with some tales of great gardens visited!)

Old School Gardener

Tomatoes-on-the-bushA timely question from gardener, D. Light of Little Blight about tomatoes this week:

‘When should I ‘stop’ my tomatoes?’

‘Stopping’ tomatoes refers to the nipping out of the growing point about two leaves above the top flower truss. This concentrates the plants energies into maturing the remaining trusses of fruit before the cold weather comes.

  • Outdoor tomatoes are usually stopped after three trusses in the north of the UK, and about four or five in the south. This probably means about now (early August) or possibly slightly earlier.
  • Indoor tomatoes are stopped after seven or eight trusses– or if they are growing well, you can leave them until there’s no more room in the greenhouse!

It’s also worth remembering to continue to nip out the side shoots that grow between the angle of the leaves and main stem (only on those grown as cordons/climbers and not necessary on bush tomatoes). And as trusses of fruit start to mature from the bottom up, progressively cut off some of the foliage to allow light and air in around the fruit to help ripening and reduce the chances of disease.

 

Well, that’s ‘stopping’. At this time of year it’s also possible to restart the growth of spring and early summer cabbages.

When you cut the cabbage head, leave the stalk in the ground and cut a shallow cross about 6mm deep on the top of it. Provided the ground is fertile and there’s plenty of moisture, several buds will appear below the cut and develop into cabbage heads by late summer. As many as six new cabbage heads may be produced, crammed tightly together on the old stalk!

Old School Gardener

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