November has been both sensual and sensational this year, from start to finish. The trees around here have been giving us a seasonal sashay, surprising us with a daily change of attire. At the back of the cottage it started off with zingy citrus notes and ended in a blaze of mandarin, lit up by the morning sunrise and accentuated by brooding skies.
While we added layer upon layer, we watched November slowly undress itself, ready for the frosty nakedness of December’s kiss.
With complimentary-coloured soups made from the ongoing harvest, for me November went a smidge Gustav Klimt.
The arrival of a serious frost last night has had me up a ladder this afternoon, picking the last of the apples off the tree. I’ve also been rescuing a few frosty ones off the ground. Apples taste so good semi-freddo, don’t they?
I’ve sorted the good from the bad and the ugly. The good have gone into boxes in the garage to eat later int the winter. I’ll have a think about what to do with the rest…
I’ve been bringing in collected twigs and stalks for a final drying off in the hallway. Saved lavender stalks, pea stalks, and various other twiggy-stalky things, make excellent kindling through the winter. I’ve also used some of the wood ash from the fire, giving the soil around the blackcurrant, redcurrant and gooseberry bushes a bit of a sprinkle. There was some contradiction online when I came to research what wood ash was, and wasn’t, good for… (it’s definitely NOT good for raspberries) …but in the end I went with this advice in the Guardian from Monty Don… I gambled, thinking “if I followed his advice I should be okay!”:
The ash also gets used directly around the gooseberries and currant bushes, which are greedy for potash (you can spot a potash deficiency by yellowed and browning edges to leaves, as though they have been scorched, and the fruiting will suffer directly from this). Potassium (contained in the ash) is also needed in the process of wood-ripening. Too little will increase the chance of frost or insect damage and decrease the chance of fruit – such as gooseberries and redcurrants – forming on wood that ripens in the previous year.
And finally, I’ve been wrapping up. Not Christmas presents, but my cauliflowers. The proper advice is to tie the outer leaves together with twine, over the ‘flower’ to keep it white and protect it from rain damage. I was in a bit of hurry to get in to the warm, so I grabbed a few clothes pegs instead.
I’m sure that’ll do nicely.
If anyone has any advice on using wood ash in the garden I’d love to hear it… With this very cold weather approaching, I’ve a feeling I’m going to have quite a lot of it!