Saturday 13 October 2018

The October garden

This year the weather has surprised us many times. Very cold, wet weather in the Spring, hot and dry in the Summer, and now (after a short spell of more "normal" weather) an unusually warm Autumn. This week we have had temperatures in the 20 - 23C range, which is several degrees above normal. Also we have had a lot less rain than I would have expected. I haven't put the hosepipe away yet! In a normal year, my garden might be looking a bit bare (or full of fallen leaves) by now, but this year I still have a good quantity of veg left.

My Runner beans finally produced a worthwhile crop - though the pods only started forming after the big Summer drought had ended. I've not had a bumper crop, that's for sure, but enough to restore their pride. As you can see in this photo, the plants are still producing flowers too.

The Kaibroc doesn't know when to stop either. Although the plants look very bedraggled they continue to put out more spears.

Not big ones, but especially welcome in October.

There are one or two tomatoes to be had. These are on an "Alaskan Fancy" plant, grown very late in the season from a rooted sideshoot removed from the parent plant during pruning. To be honest, I didn't expect it to produce any fruit at all. If these ones ripen (which they might, with the weather so warm), it will be a real bonus.

I still have lots of chillis ripening. Many of the plants have lost a lot of leaves, but that's normal.The fruits hang on for longer and unless there's a frost they always ripen eventually.

This is "Aji Limon", one of my favourites, and always a late ripener.

The Aji Limon plant has lost most of its leaves, and the remaining ones are effectively dead, but look how many fruits there are still:

Anticipating the advent of cooler weather - which must surely come at some point soon - I have moved some of the chillis plants into my big wooden coldframe. In the tall lower compartment is my "Cozumel" chilli, which has lots of fruit on it, but no ripe ones yet.

On the shelf above are a couple of the smaller plants, like this "Chocolate Cayenne".

And this "Golden Cayenne". Both of these Cayennes produced only two ripe fruits each back in the late Summer, but as soon as those were picked they responded by setting another eight or so fruits each, so these definitely deserve a bit of extra protection while they ripen.

Alongside the small Cayenne chilli plants are my two pots of Watercress, which appear to be having a new lease of life. Inside the coldframe they should be good for another few weeks.

It's about time my "Winter Banana" apples were ready for picking. I keep giving them a surreptitious twist to see if they will come away easily from the tree, but they seem firmly attached still, so presumably not ripe just yet.

This year my little tree has produced the sum total of 8 fruits (after the June Drop, that is). It's not a lot, but they are big, firm apples and very tasty too.

Of course, when we're reckoning up what still left in my garden, let's not forget the carrots and endives I wrote about earlier in the week.

I also have some Radicchio, both the red "Palla Rossa" type, which I am already cutting when required and also the variegated "Variegato di Castelfranco". The former have not been impressive this year, due mainly to the Summer drought. The bed in which they have been growing is my least good one. It suffers from the proximity of a huge Leyland Cypress (Cupressus x leylandii) tree in my neighbour's garden, which sucks out all the moisture with its invasive roots. Fortunately, said neighbour has recently informed me that this tree is going to be cut down 'soon'. All I can say is "Hooray!"

Radicchio "Palla Rossa"

I haven't yet cut any of the Castelfranco type chicories, but they are in a different bed so hopefully they will be better, though at present I don't see much variegation on them. Ideally, the hearts should be a creamy white colour with reddish-green speckles.

I nearly forgot to mention the parsnips. I haven't lifted any yet. It is usually recommended that you don't harvest parsnips until after they have been sweetened by the first heavy frosts - so it might be a while before that happens! Still, they are looking OK from above ground, though this is not necessarily an indication that there will be good roots down below.

I haven't been visiting my Courtmoor Avenue plot so much recently, but I plan to give an update on it next time I post.


  1. Loads of fruit and veg compared to my garden which is now almost empty.

  2. I thought our watercress was going to die off this year as over summer it just didn’t grow. It is now making an effort. I wonder if it doesn’t enjoy heat.

  3. Your parsnips are looking really healthy. Will you be saving your radicchio root to force?

    1. No, Mal, I don't think the Radicchio is good enough for that.


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