“It’s Autumn Time!”
Just like the children’s game, a garden will suddenly creep up on you and run amok the moment your back is turned.
Arriving back in the dark from a ten-day holiday, it was very difficult to see what the garden was like. I could sense that the space had been filled with growth, even though I could hardly make things out in the clouded moonlight. It was the 1st of September and it already smelled autumnal. I knew it had been raining everyday, but had there been enough sun to get some sort of harvest?
The next morning I got up early to assess what had been going on in my absence. My kind old dad had been and softened the blow. He’d mown the grass and trimmed the edges and hedges giving the garden a sense of order.
The veg beds, however, had partied hard, drunk on all that rain. There was a lot of leafy upwards and outwards growth, but not the vegetable bonanza I had been expecting from late August. How disappointing.
After work I take another look. There’s quite a lot of rotting roots on the last of the lettuces and mizuna. The tops of the remaining fat carrots have become hollowed-out hot-tubs for social slugs. The Swiss chard and rocket has bolted and the peas are clearly past their best. Out they all come onto the compost heap.
I find a cucumber ready for picking, the first (and maybe last?) one to come off 5 plants! There are a lot of little ones, but I don’t think they’ll develop much more. The courgette plants are ginormous but only one small courgette? The prize pumpkin looks okay but hasn’t grown much. The leaves are turning brown and yellow. The baby squashes have miscarried and dropped off. How sad I feel.
Then I start to tidy up and do some tending and by return I am rewarded.
I find French beans aplenty, balls of beetroot, some intact carrots and peas, and the cabbages are as firm as footballs. The last of the potatoes look ready to harvest from their warm grow bags. The celery is still perky, stalking about under the rampant runner beans. The celeriac looks plump and ready to try. Pencil-thin sweetcorn is doing its best to hold up a few edible cobs of corn. It’s positively Dolly-Partonesque in its ambition. The artichokes have established growth ready for flowering next year, and the swedes and broccoli look better than when I left them. There are masses of heavy and healthy green tomatoes, although only a few of them are ripe. The chillies are still hotting-up in colour. There’s hope yet.
Today is another day and the sun is shining. All we need is an Indian Summer.
The single pumpkin seems to be pulling a face all by itself
Come on toms! You can do it!
Maybe I planted a vegetable too many?
Dolly Parton sweetcorn
Cucumbers drunk on rain