In the garden, the twin activities of harvesting and tidying up continue.
After several rounds of harvesting, the peas and French beans are finished. During the glut, we enjoy these fresh crops daily at the table, while many kilos more have been painstakingly processed and stored in the deep freeze for the year to come. All the potatoes have been lifted now, sorted and carefully stored in the dark shed.
Onion sets and garlic too have been lifted and left to dry out. A wet August and heavier soils on the north end of the garden meant that quite a few of the red onions on that side were unfortunately going soft in the ground, while the white onions in the slightly lighter soil on the other side of the garden had grown very large, and in plentiful numbers too!
After the final harvest of these crops, we dig out the few big weeds that may remain then put in a quick pass with the rotavator, rake and leave as fallow until after Christmas when the new gardening year begins.
We can also do some pruning now as new shoots stop appearing– especially for the thornless blackberries which need to have this year's new growth trained on the wires now, prepped and positioned for optimal fruiting and picking next year.The growth which just fruited can be now pruned away. We have some fine blackberry wine resting in its bottles now – looks lovely.
Now is the time we make a second trimming of the garden's beech hedges – keeping everything tidy and shipshape before winter. The hedges when densely grown can protect the garden from the worst of the wind.
Right now, we are in the middle of harvesting runner beans whilst the salad crops continue to provide crisp fresh greens and the first of the sweet corn is ready.
The top fruits harvesting has just begun – lovely pink Discovery apples and now the first of a good crop of purple plums (plenty for the deep freeze).
This year the young trees have grown very well – especially the little maple which I thought would never grow. It put on about 2 feet this year compared to 2 inches in every previous year. The walnut trees continue to thrive and look splendid.
Finally, you should know that life is certainly not all work in the garden. I have been playing my 'cello regularly to raise money for charity this year. It's a pleasant way to spend an hour or so playing in the sun – preferably with a pint of homebrew to hand.All sorts of interested folk drop by and over £1000 has been collected for the Alnwick branch of Hospice Care (they looked after my brother brilliantly in his last months).
The next big items to harvest will be beetroot, carrots and finally the huge crop of enormous parsnips (they will be tricky to dig out!). It has been a pretty good year. But there is plenty to be done before this year’s end to prepare for an even more bountiful year in 2022.