Tuesday 25 November 2014

First hard frost

This morning we woke to the first serious frost of the Autumn with the water in the fountain well frozen and all the plants and grass edged with silvery white. The overnight temperature went down to minus 3 deg C - which probably seems quite tropical to those poor souls in New York State who've been digging themselves out of 6 foot drifts this week.

Frost-edged ferns

Pretty, frost-edged Japanese anemone leaves
Frosty grasses and reeds obscure the pond

Sunday 16 November 2014

Clearing out the greenhouse

Cleared out the tomatoes from the greenhouse today. It was wet, murky and foggy all day so this was a job in the dry. I picked a kilo of green and slightly pink tomatoes to keep on the kitchen window-sill and these may last till Christmas. I find tomatoes keep better and are much tastier stored out of the fridge.

I weeded (lots of small stinging nettles) and dug over the bed in the greenhouse and used the soil from there to partly fill two large tubs ready for potatoes. I planted 4 Santes which do very well in pots and will sort out some Colleens for the other one. The Colleens in store in the garage are already sprouting with the warm Autumn weather.

The tubs will stay in the greenhouse over winter, though they'll need a bit of insulation if the temperature drops below freezing. It provides us with a few potatoes in the Spring well before the ones in the garden are ready.

When it stops raining I'll get a couple of barrows from the compost heap to replace the soil in the greenhouse beds and think about growing something there over winter. It would have to be a frost-resistant crop -  maybe a winter lettuce mix or pak choi. I'll need a visit to the seed shop.

Monday 10 November 2014

Sale and cyclamens

Our local conservation group - the Coleorton and New Lount Volunteer Group  - hold occasional "Table-top sales" to raise funds to help with their work. So this Saturday I had a table and stocked it up with garden and house plants, home-made jam, marmalade and chutneys and some rose-petal potpourris. It's as much a social event as a money-making exercise but it's a fun way to contribute to the volunteer work.

Froggarts Cottage plants & preserves at the Table-top sale 
I had already potted up some suitable plants for sale including pots of thyme which I grew from seed last year and are now maturing nicely, but I wanted a bit more colour.

It's difficult to find garden plants in flower at the moment. There are still some little cyclamen in bloom in the bank under the cherry tree. I had to work hard to dig up a patch, and thought I must have been tugging at cherry-tree roots. But when I got the clump into the greenhouse to separate into pots I found I had dug up an enormous corm about 20cms in diameter and 7 cm thick which was supporting a number of smaller corms. I'd never seen one so big and I'm wondering what's under the soil in the front garden which is carpeted with pick and white cyclamen.

Pretty pink cyclamen emerge each Autumn from corms - some of which can be enormous.

Wednesday 5 November 2014

Cold and bright Guy Fawkes day

Another bright Autumn day with a cold, slightly frosty start and glorious sunshine all day until the shock of sunset at 4.30 pm. Every year after the clocks go back it's difficult adjusting to such short days. But it's just Winter - can always get up earlier to get a bit more light-time. Tonight is Guy Fawkes night and fireworks are banging, popping and swooshing already at 6 o'clock and there's a big moon smiling at all the festivities.

Because of the threat of frost I've brought in all the tender plants like geraniums,begonias and oleanders and filled the conservatory window-sills. The tomatoes have been stripped and the grow-bags removed from the small conservatory leaving just 4 pepper plants (capsicums) with a few fruits left. We picked 6 red peppers on Saturday and had them stuffed with minced beef, garlic, onions, mushrooms and served with thick tomato sauce created from the aforementioned tomatoes.

Last week-ends strong winds (see Coalville tornado) stripped all the leaves from the walnut and maple trees and the silver birch and the big cherry is just hanging onto a few pinky-yellow leaves. Everything is just a bit soggy with damp leaves everywhere. But there are a few bulbs peeping through already to remind us Spring is on it's way after whatever Winter we get this year!