The Land Rover Owners Wife

The Garden Share Collective: November 2013

12 Comments

I can’t quite believe how fast the months are passing by and that it is already time to start thinking about my contribution to the Garden Share Collective for November. To be honest, I’m in a bit of a quandary because the beds are still not emptied at school and we are still picking tomatoes and runner beans but I like to think that this is Mother Natures way to compensate for the delayed start to the growing season.

I have to say though, that we have had a great year in terms of produce and 18 of the Gardening Club children have recently taken part in the schools’ Harvest Festival celebration, talking about the garden and the amount of vegetables they were able to hand out to the village pensioners during the Summer Vegetable Scheme. With only break times and lunch times to rehearse their piece in, I have to say that their hard work and enthusiasm shone through, proving to everyone else, what I already knew – the gardening club children are stars and a credit to the school and their parents.

Octobers Harvest:

Pears, beans, tomatoes and chilli peppers.

Pears, beans, tomatoes and chilli peppers.

So back to the task in hand and what have we been harvesting through the last month. Well, apart from the dozens of cherry tomatoes, salad tomatoes and runner beans, we have also managed to pick more kale, spinach and cauliflower not to mention beetroot and the little round ‘Parmex’ carrots.

We have now picked all of the chilli peppers and managed a quite respectable 134g across 35 peppers which is not bad from 8 plants that had a dodgy start in life. Back out in the garden, the pears have also been harvested totaling 20 fruit weighing in at 2375g and these will be handed over to the school for snacks.

However, we still have the potatoes to dig up, a few more of the round carrots and some beetroot to pull, not forgetting the leeks and onions which have been growing up amongst the Brassicas.

Jobs to do:

Ready for feeding and weeding

Ready for feeding and weeding

Other than harvesting and general maintenance, the continued warm weather has still prevented us from clearing most of the beds, as the plants insist on continuing to grow and provide us with more vegetables. One notable exception is the Octagonal raised bed which was home to sweetcorn, courgettes and pumpkins, all of which have now been composted following mixed success in terms of quantity produced:

  • sweetcorn, zero;
  • round courgettes, 2910g across 22 fruit;
  • normal courgettes, 4278g across 28 fruit; and
  • there was 1 pumpkin from this bed which weighed in at 1456g, although we successfully grew a larger specimen in one of the half barrels which weighed 4934g and both are now on display in the school.

So we still have plenty of jobs that need to be tackled and these include:

The strawberry runners are traveling down the length of the tunnel

The strawberry runners are traveling down the length of the tunnel

  • The plants in the polytunnel are about at an end now and will need to be composted. However, that said the cucumber and melon plants have already been cleared but the tomato plants are still laden with ripening fruit. In total we were able to harvest 12 cucumbers with a combined weight of 2652g;
  • The strawberry runners which have rooted into the growbags all along the length of the polytunnel will need digging up and replanting;
  • Then the staging will need to be moved over so that we can get to the weeds which are happily making the most of the shelter offered by the tunnel and remove them;
  • The Wooden Crate Containers also need emptying or, as in the case with the one planted up with strawberries, moving under shelter;
  • There is the endless round of weeding that needs to be kept on top of;
  • The beds finally need to be emptied and fed, ready for next year; and
  • In addition, there are still onion sets to plant up.

Plans for the future and other news:

This brassica is loving the sheltered spot it is in

This brassica is loving the sheltered spot it is in

We are still waiting on the arrival of the grant monies which will enable us to purchase the planters, compost and equipment for the Foundation area of the school grounds but it shouldn’t be that much longer now. We have also received an offer of planters and canes from one of the villagers which is fantastic news as this will help us utilise other areas for growing as well. In addition, plans are afoot to dig some borders on the approach to the tunnels which, as these will be against the meal railings, will allow us to use them as supports against which we can grow more beans, tomatoes and squashes.

The rogue Brassica which was growing alongside the path in the polytunnel is doing really well and appears to be developing what looks like two heads of cabbage. With the first frosts imminent, we’re going to have to look at ways of protecting this plant as it is a little too near the door for comfort and we really do want to see if we can get it to maturity.

These Rattlesnake Pole Bean pods are part of the schools' seed saving project.

These Rattlesnake Pole Bean pods are part of the schools’ seed saving project.

In one of the half barrels in front of the tunnel, the Rattlesnake Pole Bean plants are dying back and there is a nice crop of swollen bean pods which are in the process of drying out so that we can use them as seed for next year. We’ll leave these pods on for as long as we can but we’re keeping an eye on the frost forecasts and will have to bring these in to finish drying, if necessary.

So there you have it. Not much has changed since last time but I have a feeling that Decembers’ article will be a different story all together, featuring much digging and tidying and maybe even some growing if i can get the Winter garden started. I’m looking forward to seeing how the other gardens in the collective have done this month and a full list of these are available on Lizzies website strayedtable, so why not pop over and have a look.

Extra! Extra! Read all about it

Morticia

Morticia

Herman

Herman

Four of the year 5 children, worked in teams of two and designed and then carved the faces for the schools’ homegrown pumpkins. The innards had already been scooped out and, as I had expected from the soft feel of the larger pumpkins skin, this pumpkin had already started to rot and some of the seeds were actually sprouting. I’m guessing that the warm school was just too warm and we may have to look for alternative storage next year.

However, that said, it was still useable as a Halloween Lantern, as was the smaller pumpkin which was perfectly healthy inside but had very little in the way of flesh that could be taken without threatening the stability of the outer shell. So no pumpkin soup for the school this year.

The carving of the pumpkins took place in the spooky old library, away from prying eyes because when they were finished the pumpkins now name Herman (the largest one) and Morticia were displayed with their name cards and the staff were asked to vote for their favourite. It was a very close run thing but in the end Morticia swung it by two votes. Both teams did an amazing job in my opinion and so all four children received prizes and the pumpkins got Halloween rosettes to wear.

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12 thoughts on “The Garden Share Collective: November 2013

  1. Great bountiful harvest. Thanks for sharing your garden with us.

  2. I think I might start weighing my harvest too, just for curiosity sake. it’s great encouragement to know how much you’re saving too! Great GSC post

    • Thank you Lisa, although the purpose for weighing the school harvest is more for a ‘real life’ source of data.

      As a bonus the yields also help to prove the points that you can get a decent amount of produce out of a relatively small amount of actual bed space and/or that if actual bed space is a no-no then containers and can also be pretty productive 🙂

  3. Those rattlesnake beans look awesome, I will have to seek out if they exist here in AUS. In a way its kind of great that your having an extended harvest season with the weather so good. Doesn’t always happen. Hope your grant money comes through soon.

    • Thanks Lizzie.

      The Rattlesnake beans are a pretty, striking pod which generate some interest. I’m hoping the grant money will be here in the next week or so, then we can get the containers ordered, painted/stained and assembled. I’d like to get the topsoil/compost mix in as soon as possible, to give the worms chance to do their job before spring.

  4. wow – I didn’t realise you were at a school (or perhaps I didn’t pay enough attention) – when I mentioned that to my husband, he mentioned that the fertiliser company who’s site he visited is working with the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation – http://www.kitchengardenfoundation.org.au/index.php – do you have a similar sort of program?

    • Hi Jeanie

      Thanks for visiting and for taking the time to comment.

      The school garden isn’t part of any program, although there are plenty of organizations that offer help and awards for achieving certain things. Grants are available but are few and far between,especially for rural schools. I guess we just muddle along as best we can and so far things seem to working out okay 🙂

  5. I’m so impressed by your school garden, and the fact that you have so many children involved. We have a couple of very enthusiastic kids in our gardening club, then others who seem to come because their parents use it as cheap childcare…

    • Luckily our club is run over a lunchtime and so the children who join and stay are those who really want to be involved. Some of the children have ask to join but then given it up when they realise it will impact on some of their play time – although even the regulars don’t have to attend all their sessions if they don’t want to, or can spend a few minutes helping and then go back to playing with their friends. Knowing that attendance isn’t compulsory seems to work but then we are a small school with less that 100 children on the books, so waiting lists aren’t a problem either :).

  6. That is such a well organised school garden, I’m sure you’ll have no trouble getting the grants you need. Love those Pumpkins!

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