Friday, 28 October 2011

October Gardening

I haven't been blogging much of late.  Its not that I've stopped gardening... I've just not been gardening much in my own garden.  Maybe because I have a container garden and there's so much more to do in the community gardens I help maintain.

At the school garden we've been doing lots of weeding, harvesting beetroots, chard, beans and grapes.  Some of the pupils were even inspired to make juice out of the grapes!  We've also been planting green manures on the patches of ground that will remain vacant until next spring.  We chose Phacelia as it is not in any of the crop groups we are using in our crop rotation plans.

At the Community Garden we're planting a winter wheat section.  So far we've been turning the soil (with forks I might add as we didn't have a rotavator!)  As we have quite a large area to sow this has been very much fat burning work with towels to mop brows and water bottles on hand!  Next we will be raking the soil and then planting the seed.

At home, I do still have jobs to do... Planting the garlic!  This is a job my boyfriend sees as very high on my todo list as he would be devastated if there wasn't any fresh garlic to go with the fresh tomatoes next summer!!  I'm also going to plant some broad beans.  I've never grown them before but have an eye on a broad bean hummus recipe I'd love to try and I'm sure it just wouldn't be the same unless they are fresh from the garden and young beans.  I'm also thinking about moving the salad boxes into the plastic greenhouse when the final chillies have moved out.  I have some Hatif d'Annonay Peas http://www.realseeds.co.uk/peas.html which is a fast growing dwarf pea which can be sown now in October/November so that's another of my intentions.  I will have to bring my Zapallito de Toscana winter squash in soon but as we haven't had any frosts in South West London yet I'm letting it stay on the plant as long as I can.  The plant is still very much alive so have been letting it stay on the mother plant for as long as possible.  Please let me know if this is the right thing to do or would I be better just bringing them in now as this is the first year I have grown winter squash with a hard outer shell.

I've also been busy in the kitchen baking muffins with an oversized 600g patty pan, making nasturtium pesto, cooking roast squash and chilli, rosehip and apple jelly to name but a few concoctions.

Recipes coming soon to clairesculinaryadventures.blogspot.com

I'm still trying to find something exciting to do with a bumper crop of beetroot from the school garden.  Any delicious beetroot ideas?

Friday, 14 October 2011

Growing Aubergines Outside

I think I need to fess up... in my last post there were some pictures of my prize aubergines.

These were grown outside in the patio garden but with a little bit of help.

Now I don't have the space for a green house and am so envious of people who are able to grow their tomotoes, aubergines, peppers, chillies, physalis ... the list goes on!... under cover.  They always look so healthy when grown under cover.  And of course they do for they are in the solanaceae family, also known as the sun lovers family.

Whilst I don't have a green house, there are other options for the space challenged container gardener.

Last year, we had a rather disappointing summer (not that much different to the one we've just had) and all the flowers dropped off my aubergines - i.e. no fruit. 

This year the aubergines have been enjoying the comforts of a hort fleece tent fastened to the wall with clothes line pegs and a stone on the floor to stop it flapping about.  They seem to really like the tomato planters I have grown them in this year too as these are the tallest aubergines I have ever grown aubergines. They also enjoy a diet of worm tea from the wormery and comfrey leaves.

If we are getting a good sunshiny day I unveil them and then tuck them in once the sunshine's finished for the day to keep them warm for the night time.

I know, I know, I could just grow easier things that don't have such a need for heat but I love eating aubergines - they are just great roasted in the oven with tomatoes and garlic.  Its a challenging labour of love every year but this year I think I've cracked it!

The other thing I was not telling you in my last post was the peppers and chillies that are still happy outside despite the drop in temps.  They are not showing signs of stress yet and I don't like denying them outside sunshine if they are able to cope with our outside temps so to help them extend their stay outside that little bit longer, they are in the portable greenhouse, a present that my lovely boyfriend bought me last spring that proved invaluable when I was hardening off seedlings in spring and now to extend the growing season into autumn.

So there you have it... I'm now thinking of hort fleece tents for the tomatoes next year, especially if the summer's the same as it was this year I just need to improve on the frame for the hort fleece tent - any tips out there?
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