It’s that time of year again when my poor vegetable garden is looking very tired and needs some serious attention. I’ve turned a blind eye to it these last couple of weeks and even when popping up to open the greenhouses up for some much needed ventilation during the days, I have managed to ignore the silent pleading of wilting plants, bedecked with browning leaves, yellowing stems. Even the weeds were looking hard done to!
But with the weather forecasters predicting that the Indian summer we have been enjoying of late, is due to leave us this week, I came to the conclusion that if I wanted to avoid doing the bulk of the clearing out in near zero temperatures or ice cold downpours, then I needed to bestir myself and set to. That’s the thing with the clearing out process, for me it ranks right up there with the weeding in terms of jobs I struggle to get up the enthusiasm to start but then when I do, I just keep plugging on because I really like the neat and tidy look when I’ve finished.
With the compost bins at the ready, I set about relieving the beds of this years detritus and pumpkin vines, dried up potato stems and numerous weeds went into the compost bins, quickly followed by sweet corn stalks and bean vines. Having finally learned my lesson from previous years (it’s only taken 5), I carefully unwound the string from the bean pyramid, instead of my usual approach of pull all the bamboos out in one go and put them away string and all. Two hours of digging and pulling later and all the raised beds and most of the normal beds were finished.
At the very back of the vegetable patch, the two half barrels had almost disappeared under a blanket of strawberry runners which had grown down the outside and had formed a carpet of green, immature plants around the base. I managed to collect around 50 new plants from just one of the tubs and cleared the mini sweetcorn stalks, as well as some nettles out, providing the parent strawberry plants with a bit more space. I also removed the bamboo and wire bird deterrent that I had erected way back in spring when the strawberries were ripening.
The more observant of you will probably have noticed from the photo, that I have only done the minimum of work around the second half barrel, clearing only the courgette plants, weeds and bird deterrent, leaving the runners in place. The reason for this is that we know that at least one of our resident hedgehogs is using the underside of the barrel as either a bolt hole or a nest. As such, I felt that the removal of the overhanging runners would not be appreciated by our prickly visitor and so only a very quick facelift was applied to the barrel.
The back fence beds were the last to receive any attention yesterday, although I also emptied the hanging baskets as well, and as I headed back into the house I was satisfied that I’d put in a good days work and that most of the beds are now ready for enriching with fresh topsoil and some manure. I still have the long bed by the lawn to tackle but that will be sometime this week and then the greenhouses will need a thorough wash down and debug once the chillies are finished.
My tired garden is looking a lot better now and has that distinctive Autumnal look and feel, created by the layer of yellow leaves dropped from the trees.