Kittens or no kittens, the season continues to turn and the garden still requires our attention. The raspberry canes have been cut back and the veg beds have been thoroughly weeded and tidied. While D planted garlic and onion sets, I cleaned the greenhouse till it sparkled to make sure that no pests or diseases overwinter in there to emerge renewed in the spring. I was quite proud of my handiwork – as one friend accurately remarked, it is cleaner than my house!
Once cleaned, we could start sowing under glass again. We have baby leeks and silverskin onions so far, plus I have sown the flower seeds I collected at the end of the summer to give the plants a head start next spring. We have also bought some early peas which can be sown now for a spring crop.
We are still harvesting our giant beetroots which are sweet, earthy and delicious and we have plenty of carrots to see us through the colder months. We find it impossible to grow straight carrots – they are usually split and misshapen but no less tasty for that. Best of all, we have some parsnips. Our first sowings didn’t germinate at all, but we have had more success with our later attempt. Now the frosts are starting in earnest, they will soon be ready to start pulling for our Sunday dinners.
My cleaning made me realise what a frightening mountain of black plastic we have accumulated in three short years. It is almost impossible to buy anything from our local garden centre which doesn’t come in a black plastic pot. All we can do is wash everything carefully and reuse it as much as possible. We are sowing more from seed and will continue to do so, in order to reduce our use of plastic. It is a dilemma for gardeners everywhere, I suspect. We are all trying to work with the natural world but we are constantly surrounded by plastic, most of which cannot be recycled.
The weather here has been mixed. We have had some perfect autumn days – cold, crisp and sunny with beautiful blue skies. One afternoon Calamity and I spent a productive couple of hours in the garden. While she soaked up the sunshine on the woodshed roof, glad of some kitten-free time, I potted up some winter pansies in containers on the patio. It was a rare time of peace, pottering gently – deadheading, pulling up the odd weed and enjoying the quiet and the warmth, with just the beautiful song of a nearby blackbird breaking the silence.
Other days have been more wintry and we even had snow one Saturday morning. The kittens had never seen snow before and were fascinated, even though they had to content themselves with trying to catch the flakes from the other side of the window. I am sure that when they are able to explore the garden, they will love playing in the snow and we will have lots of fun watching them.
We also had some high winds and one day we went out to discover that an old tree trunk up in the kitchen garden had blown down overnight. The base was completely rotten and the whole trunk had fallen as a result. We were lucky – it fell into the veg patch, narrowly missing a couple of parsnips but, had it gone the other way, it would have gone straight into the greenhouse. Leaving aside the danger and expense of broken panes, I would have been highly fed up if my newly cleaned greenhouse had been damaged! D, as ever, saw an opportunity and went and bought a small electric chainsaw to add to his power tool collection and we now have a crate full of logs ready for the fire.
We still have some work to do – beds to weed, yet more plastic to wash and store and the grass will need one final cut before the winter arrives. I am excitedly waiting for some autumn-fruiting raspberry canes to arrive too so that we can extend our growing season next year. Not that we have decided where to plant them yet …