Autumn: After the Harvest

If we believe many gardening shows it's time to hang up your spade, clean off your wellies and put your feet up. The harvest is over, you are happy that even during a cool, wet summer your runner beans did better than you expected.

Grow for winter too.

Even the late flowers of summer may still be clinging on in your borders but they can wait until spring to tidy up.

Keep growing

Even the annuals, though late to start and a bit patchy have come through into the cooler days to make you smile.

How the growing year went

You may sit there and think, as many gardeners we have spoken with, that the courgettes and pumpkins never really got started and that they have been rather disappointing.

Tips for pumpkin growing?

You may think that's the end of another successful season but it isn't if all you use your garden for is summer. You should always grow for winter too, we learnt that from doing dig for victory. We all have problem crops, for us it was spring planted onions, back in 2013 we barely had enough to pickle; as tasty as they were at Christmas they didn't give you a sense of achievement. Back in 2014, Andrew actually swore at his onions for most of that spring and summer, giving them one last chance. Their chance would be in the depths of winter, maybe Andrew wanted to punish them, an almost Basil Fawlty approach to garden which would have involved him ripping a branch off and screaming at them, 'Right then! Now you've asked for it!' before whipping them. The result without the whipping? Fabulous. In hardy winter onions we found an ally that was happy to sit in the cold and wet, to swell and grow in spring and to give us what was supposed to be a small trial crop. We have been eating them for weeks and the beauty of them is that after they were cleared, there was space for other quick successive crops of lettuce. If you have glass in your garden, in the shape of a cold frame or greenhouse, use it over winter and grow in it, look for year round lettuces or try some potatoes in a bag, try a hotbed with your cold frame, or better still turn to seasonal crops, turn to leeks and greens and turnips.

Keep growing for summer and winter

Creating your own cabbage patch doesn't mean you need to grow ton after ton of cabbages - yes, we know cabbages are cheap in the shop but frankly we'd put any of our cabbages up against a 39p one and come out on top. We grow varieties that aren't available and which taste so fresh that you will be scrabbling to grow them and memories of cabbage water, perpetually boiled and grey cabbage will leave your mind. You can do hundreds of things with greens and cabbage. We always have ours with our Christmas meal, plainly steamed with a knob of butter on them, we have even grown our own parsnips which are a great crop to leave in the ground over winter, they get better in taste as the cold snaps at them.

Grow for the Christmas table

Don't think because the world is turning grey that the garden will turn grey too. Sure, things will die back but they will be back soon, but there are things that will happily march through to next spring and will fill your plate time after time. It may not be the glutinous experience of summer but it will be a side plate of happiness that will remind you the world is never grey and gardens never die.


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