Archive for October, 2020

Autumn Storms

October 5, 2020

We had our first proper Autumn storm this weekend, with the arrival of Storm ‘Alex’. It started raining overnight on Thursday and didn’t stop until Sunday lunchtime.

This was tiresomely reminiscent of last Autumn and Winter, which was remarkably wet, culminating in our local town, Tenbury Wells, being flooded at the beginning of March.

We’re lucky that our house has never flooded and is significantly higher than the stream which runs past the house. But the very wet weather is not without its problems. The stream does break its banks when the weather is particularly wild and this can cause damage to the track leading to the house. Flooding can also cause the weir to break, which holds back the water in the pool photographed above.

In the garden, waterlogging can cause the loss of plants and since we grow on heavy clay, this can be a particular problem. More problematic for us at least is that run-off from surrounding fields washes away top soil. Like many others, we also find that these increasingly common wet, mild winters, lead to an explosion in slug numbers.

The very wet winter was followed of course by an exceptionally dry Spring and early Summer. It seems that we must get used to this increasingly extreme weather and as gardeners, adapt as best we can.

The Productive Garden

October 2, 2020

It’s fair to say that our principal focus as gardeners is on what might be called the ‘decorative’ part of the garden: borders filled with flowering plants and shrubs. That’s certainly the aspect of the garden we mostly blog about. But there is another important part of our garden and that’s the productive side. We have a veg patch which is about the size of the allotment we used to have in Birmingham. We have a polytunnel which is currently filled with tomatoes, cucumbers, chillies, melons and basil. There is a fruit cage which ought to have raspberry canes in it (that’s another story) but from which we did get a good crop of black currants at mid-Summer. Last but by no means least, we also have a cutting bed, from which we are continuing to get a really good ‘crop’ of cut flowers.

At this time of year though, our thoughts turn to our small orchard and the hedgerows which surround us. The orchard was in a pretty poor state when we inherited it. We were really down to just a couple of large, old apple trees, three plum and several gnarled damson trees. We’ve since lost one of the apple trees and some of the damsons. We’re trying to restore the orchard however and have planted a dozen new apple trees, together with pear, plum, mulberry and medlar.

What to do with the crop? Well, this is the time of year we get out the maslin pan and start some serious jam, chutney and pickle making. Damson jam is one the finest things there is! But damsons also make a great tangy chutney. We take a lot of apples to a local press, which gives us a year’s supply of apple juice. And last but by no means least we love damson and sloe gin, which we lay down for drinking the following year.

As for the grapes in the picture? They’re an unexpected bonus from the vine we planted, for purely decorative reasons, against the summer house. The grapes actually taste pretty good but those are the only two bunches, so we won’t be making any wine just yet.

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