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October 2011 Diary

Photo albums
22 October

Click here
for October 2010 diary entry  

October sowing schedule
Details of what was sown in October

Click here
For October 2011 weather summary

October harvesting schedule
Details of our October harvest

Archive for previous years' diaries dating from 2007 can be accessed by clicking here

1 October

Although it is October the weather is really warm and sunny – the temperature rose above 28°C warmer than most other days this year. This meant that it was the sort of day for pottering rather than indulging in any vigorous activity. A while ago we planted an arum lily in one of our borders which hasn’t really been happy so I decided to dig it up and pop it is a pot. In the event I dug up a large clump with lots of new shoots so I ended up with not just one but about seven potted plants of varying sizes. These will over winter in the greenhouse.

2 October
Our second batch of winter onions arrived – this time the varieties are Electric a red variety and Shakespeare. I know it seems excessive buying four lots of onions but we are sharing with a friend so this way we end up with four different varieties rather than just two. Our garlic collection also arrived. This includes ten different varieties plus a few elephant garlic cloves so I’m hoping we at least have some garlic next year.

3 October
Do you remember our fuzzy nectarines? The ones that looked more like peaches; well I decided to email Thompson and Morgan to see whether they could explain why our nectarines didn’t look like the ones in their photo. It turns out that there must have been a mix up and the tree that we were sent was a peach called Avalon Pride. Anyway full marks to T&M as they have promised to send me the nectarine – Fantasia, that we should have received, next year. This is a real bonus mistake as now we will have a peach and a nectarine.

4 October
Having spent a couple of days last week tidying up the onions for storage I now find myself planting the over wintering onions. These should be ready to use shortly after the stored onions start to regrow. The soil is still incredibly dry.

We also picked the first of our quinces- just two to try as we are not sure when they are actually ripe. We will have to pick them before the first frost though which is due any time. With the expected imminent arrival of frost weather I also gathered in all the squashes. Some plants had managed to produce a fruit at all and others only a very small one but despite the lack of moisture we did achieve one or two decent sized squash.

6 October
After having our first taste of stewed quince in a delicious crumble it was a priority to pick the remaining fruit before it was spoiled by an unexpected frost so on our visit to the plot this was my first task. The small tree has produced fourteen fruits which are a bonus as it is almost impossible to buy quince. For more about our quince growing click here.

Other than picking more late fruit time was spent clearing beds.

9 October
You may remember that I sowed some cyclamen seeds earlier this year – well all the indoor cyclamen seedling have grown into small plants, one is actually flowering and others have buds. The plants are miniature cyclamen but I am really pleased with this success.

14 October
I planted the first lot of my garlic. After last year’s crop failure I am trying three different growing methods. Three cloves of each variety have been planted in pots to keep over-winter in our cold greenhouse and planted in early spring. Another three cloves of each variety have been planted in large tubs which will remain in the greenhouse over winter and be moved outside in spring.

All the ripe tomatoes were gathered from plants in the greenhouse and outside in the garden – these were all cherry sized tomatoes which seem to have taken longer to ripen than the normal sized varieties.

15 October
The rest of the garlic was planted on the plot directly in the ground. Now it’s a case of waiting to see whether any of our methods actually produce a crop next year. I’ve written more detail about the planting on my blog post here.

Our pea crop was another disappointment so we have sown some peas to over winter. The hope is that the peas will benefit from an early start. The sowing area has been protected by a tunnel of chicken wire. I just hope the peas don’t attract the attention of any passing mice.

I planted a few wallflowers in the blueberry beds. This is just outside our shed where we sit and have a coffee – weather permitting. We’re hoping come spring we can sit drinking coffee and enjoying the perfume.

The dahlias are still flowering well so I dead headed them – it may be a bit of a futile exercise if a sudden frost descends on us but if not we can enjoy the flowers for a bit longer.

We even managed a picking of fresh raspberries, strawberries and blackberries which is great for mid October.

Other than that just more clearing beds – this will be an ongoing process until the weather forces us to stay inside.

16 October
I bought some pansies from a local garden centre earlier in the week and these were planted in tubs replacing the osteospernums which finished their flowering and dried up.

My plot neighbour also gave me a white phlox which has been planted in an ideal spot in the white and blue border that we are developing.

20 October
Up until this year we have left dahlia tubers to over-winter in the ground and all has been well but last year’s horrendous winter proved too much for them so this year we thought we’d dig them up. Although the slight frost that we had this week didn’t actually blacken the dahlias we decided to lift them. The rational was that in spite of missing out on some flowers the soil wouldn’t be too wet and we could shake as much off the tubers as possible. Some advocate washing the tubers but we didn’t – we thought it was better to keep the tubers as dry as possible. All tubers are now in the plot greenhouse – they have been tipped up so that the hollow cut stems point downwards which should help prevent rotting. (There’s more here). We still need to add extra protection but if we have another winter like last year the chances are that the tubers won’t survive anyway but it’s worth a try. We did manage one last vase of flowers.

I also noticed some new leaves growing from the base of our dead fig tree so it seems two figs are being raised from the dead!

20 October
At the moment most of the plot activity centres on clearing and tidying so the plot is looking quite bare except of course for the weeds which are quick to colonise any empty ground. The damp weather has fired the sleeping seeds into growth.

The more welcome newly planted winter onions have started to sprout but will soon suspend all growth once the weather turns more wintry.

The main plot task for me today was to tidy up the strawberry patch – the netting and straw has been removed to the compost area and all the runners, old and dead leaves have been cut back. I wasn’t quite brave enough to cut back all the leaves as it seemed a bit too late to do this. Flamenco the perpetual fruiting variety still has fruit but much of this is being spoiled by the dampness so the birds are welcome to nibble them if they spot any turning red. As I revealed the variety labels I spotted that we had made an mistake as our plan had all the varieties in the wrong places so instead of it being Marshmello that had given us the most fruit this season it was the everbearing Flamenco which actually makes most sense! Read more here

23 October
I just couldn’t put it off any longer – I had to brave the thorns to prune the tayberry. I cut out all last year’s fruiting canes and tied in the new canes of which there didn’t seem to be as many as usual – maybe the dry weather took its toll on cane production. There’s only one job worse than pruning the tayberry which is pruning the blackberry which has even more vicious thorns and canes so long that they whip out in all directions. So the tayberry serves as a dress rehearsal for the big even. At least I can put it off a little while longer as we are still picking blackberries.

Strangely the early fruiting raspberries have decided to produce fruit now which I hope isn’t a sign that it will fail to produce any fruit in spring.

On the plot I’d been growing on some bellis plants to use as winter/spring bedding in tubs in the garden, these were dug up and brought home ready to plant out.

It was also time to tackle the compost bays. The contents of each section being moved along one bay. The first bay had compost ready to be spread on the beds and so the cycle continues.

25 October
At long last the Katherine Hodgkins iris bulbs arrived. Some were planted in the front garden and others in what is to become our blue and white border.

I’ve also planted the bellis plants that I dug from a nursery bed on the plot.

25 October
Despite a poor carrot season we did manage to dig up some carrots of a decent size – we just haven’t the quantity that we usually produce so they will have to be treated more as a delicacy.

Amazingly as well as lots of tidying up on the plot I also harvested some berries, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries at the end of October – not many but what a treat!

The dahlia tubers had dried off and so have been packed into cardboard boxes which have been covered with layers of enviromesh. We’re not going to great efforts to store them as to be honest, if all we want are some attractive flowers for the house, it’s as easy to grow more from seed. It’s a different matter when growing dahlias in the garden. We have five dahlias from the ‘Happy’ series which have a lovely colour range of single flowers and bronze leaves. Conditions have meant that they haven’t really put on much growth this year and have produced only small tubers – if any. These have been potted up and will spend winter in the greenhouse along with the perennial plants that I have raised from cuttings. Once the temperature drops they will be protected by fleece or bubblewrap and I’ll just hope for the best.

I’m also turning my attention to what will be my white and blue border. I already had one hellebore niger planted and have now added a second one. The border isn’t very big but I want to have at least a couple of each type of plant so it isn’t too speckled. Now is the time to settle down and plan what else I want to plant there.

31 October
We still had some tomatoes and peppers ripening on plants in the greenhouse and so these have now been removed leaving the way clear to pulling out the remaining plants. This will make room for the plants that will need to be moved into the greenhouse for winter. I’ve also grouped together all the young perennials so that they will be easier to cover with some sort of protection once the temperature drops.

The garlic planted in tubs and pots is just beginning to shoot but I don’t expect much growth over winter.

I will also need to keep an eye on the stored onions and weed out any showing signs of rot or we could end up losing the lot.  

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