October 21st in the Heart Garden

21st October

It is a beautiful dry,  sunny and cold autumn day – perfect for gardening. Time to catch up with some seasonal tasks!

We admired our cayenne chillies and peppers in the greenhouse – keep picking, feeding and watering these so that they ripen before first frost.

Love your soil! – it’s where all good gardening starts. With our raised bed system we have to be constantly replenishing the nutrients in the soil as we are more or less intensively farming – so as well as using the bed rotation system (that’s growing different crops in succession – not the same one in same spot year after year) – we have to add lots of organic matter and now is the best time. First of all we picked the last of our lovely pumpkins which have now ripened and should be good for storing (if we don’t eat them straight away!). Sometimes we save the seed but pumpkins are ‘promiscuous’ with their cross pollinating and we won’t always get what we expect – still if you’d like a surprise give it a go as seed is very expensive. But if you know it was an F1 variety don’t bother – it will revert back to its wild state and be bitter.

We also harvested a huge crop of Jerusalem Artichokes (otherwise known as ‘fartichokes’ for obvious reasons!). Not to everyones’ taste but good in soups and mash.

We covered the empty beds with a good mulch of home-grown compost and some horse manure and then covered them up with some horticulture membrane – this will stop weeds growing and keep the local cats and foxes off. If you’re growing brassicas now is the time to do a ph soil test  – add lime if its too acidic and don’t add manure at the same time. Most veg likes slightly acidic soil.

It’s not only the plants that are getting ready for winter – Bryan found all sorts of invertebrates getting ready to hibernate under wooden boards – snails are now laying eggs so expose them for the birds to feed on .We found a leopard print slug (rumoured to be carnivorous and eat the common slugs), large wood-lice and lots of worms – all decomposers and signs of a healthy eco-system. Autumn is the season of death and decay!!

But we can look forward to new shoots next spring by planting our garlic, onions and broad beans  which we will do next week.

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