This is a pledge for warriors and all veterans of conflict across the globe.
Petal’s Potted Preserve promises to support and honour all warriors and veterans of past and on going conflicts.
Petal’s Potted Preserve would like to spread awareness of both the visible and invisible signs of conflict and how they impact upon warriors, veterans and their families.
In doing so, Petal’s Potted Preserve would like to say a thank you to all warriors and veterans and remind them that no matter what they might face; they will always have a friend and someone to walk with them.
Warriors and Veterans, Petal’s Potted Preserve salutes you.
I had a lot of hope for my tomatoes this year. I would sown them when the conditions were useful, plant them into the poly tunnel. Take on board on the learning from the last few years. See if I could really maximize the potential crop.
As I write, there are still tomato plants in the poly tunnel. Whilst the weather is starting to turn, and the plot now dons it autumn winter apparel and has a rather miserable visage; I am hanging onto the tomatoes to see how far they go.
It feels a distant memory, but planting out the growing plants was the start of the possible adventure. Positioned in the poly tunnel, I aimed for two things. First, ripe tomatoes; they were all planted under cover for that very reason.In previous years, whilst there was an abundance outside, they were all green. Second, green tomatoes would be a bonus.
So the things grew. I had a number of different varieties. Some were new, the heritage brandywines and cream sausage. There were also some staples, I had stuck with yellow stuffer.
The tomatoes grew like triffids.
There is a bit of confusion, that I will gladly admit to. To defoliate or not to defoliate. There are some varieties that do need the side shoots removing, some that don’t. Also, the argument for photosynthesis does make sense. So where do you draw the line? How far you go in removing foliage, if you remove foliage at all? There were times, where it near enough impossible to move in the poly tunnel without having a yellow flower or green leaf tickle your nose.
The key at all points in the process was fruits.
In previous years I have been swimming in green tomatoes. Naturally this has lent itself to chutney. So there was something of a disappointment in not having many fruit and even then, not many green ones.
I am not sure quite sure what went wrong this year. There are a number of variables that need reflecting on. Was having slow maturing beefstakes a step too far? Was the poly tunnel too congests, or did the weather scupper all hope.
Shall be looking at the seedboxes to make a decision about what varieties will be sown next year. To think tomatoes are meant to simple.
“Oh, Punam, I went to the Plot, your grapes were flat again. Tomorrow we need to fix them.”
“Oh, Punam, we didn’t see these. All of these marrows. We must have missed them.”
And so started the conversation, and I suggested we take a walk and see what the deal was with the plot. This week has seen a return to work, and teaching has started. I was in something of a daze yesterday at six in the evening, having finished teaching; so a walk this afternoon was scheduled as being necessary after a day of training. I am hoping to do some volunteer work in the coming year, so a large proportion of my day had already been spoken for.
“Mum, there’s seven of them?”
That means chutney at some point this week.
We took a walk, and removed the last of the patty pan, sunburst courgettes. There are a few other yellow courgettes remaining; and soon they will slow down. Once all of the squashes have started to die a death; the aim is to take up the plants and compost them back into the ground. I know that I shouldn’t plant more plants than necessary, it is however difficult to not comply when your mum wants more than one plant. Yet we both get fed up of seeing frequently appearing squashes by this time of the year.
The climbing and runner beans are also starting to slow down. The last of them-she says-are now waiting to be chopped up and frozen.I had forgotten just how much you end up with, if you sow quite a few plants. We have had a combination of blue lake and cobra climbing french beans, as well as borlotto beans, scarlet emperor and painted lady runner beans. These had been sown in two batches, as I had been convinced that the one tray simply wouldn’t be enough. I think mum is quietly fed up now of chopping and freezing them. She is still to get used to the colour of the borlotto beans, I think they add character to the wig wams.
It has been a while since we have successful cropping of a butternut squash on the plot. The very first one was called Gladys, and this one would be gladys mark three. After all, even the ghost rider pumpkins are always called Bruno. I cannot remember now whether this is waltham or hunter. It is butternut squash nonetheless. There have been yellow butternut squash type thing harvested during the summer, more spherical in shape. Not too sure as to what will be done this with yet, but I am sure that it will be put to some good use.
Newly arrived today is the box of over wintering garlic that will be waiting to be sunk. I think the latest that I have ever planted is the end of November, so I am aiming to do sow sooner than that. This will mean clearing raised beds of the assorted plants before plugging in. I don’t plan to sink into open ground as the heavy clay tends eat the cloves and I also find it harder to monitor weeds.
The plot has been busy. Very busy. With autumn, we have the opportunity to take stock of what has happened. It’s not necessarily an end of year review, that is reserved for New’s Eve. No, this is a case of reflecting on the journey that has taken place over the last ten months,
A journey, that started two days after Boxing day-i think-with the sowing of chilli seeds. That for me, was the start.
As I come to pay my rent for the next year, I really must do that soon, I have a wealth of learning experiences going into what is my fourth year on the plot. It is with this milestone that I can see just how far I have come. Particularly with the grapevines. These take on average between three to five years to become established, and here we have our first ever harvest this year. The thin wiry twigs that were planted years ago, have become strong and fruitful. They do need extra support now, what was a temporary frame back then, now requires significant bolstering.
Another more concrete example, was the spuds. I have stopped counting now as to how many pounds or kilos, for that matter, that have been harvested. I feel as though I have broken something of duck. Learned a technique if you like, how to best plant, picked out appropriate varieties to gain a healthy and abundant crop. I am sure that I will be seeing Pink Fir Apple in my sleep. They have most likely been put into every dish imaginable by Mum. Yesterday, I found one in Punjabi Khadi.
For the inside the poly tunnel, I am a little perplexed. There were tomato plants galore in there, with chillies and aubergines. The chillies, did okay; lessons were implemented. All were planted into pots, we had a none too bad crop of chillies. Aubergines, have reiterated their point as being a pointless exercise for me. I need to consider whether growing a seed, is equitable with rescuing plants from the garden center.
Eighteen tomato plants were sunk into the ground of the poly. They grew, they grew into six foot tall triffids that were defoliated from time to time. All they grew, was leaves. Maybe the occasional tomato. At a point where I might ordinarily be drowning in green tomatoes; there were none to be had. I was in a different time zone, when Mum found a single, solitary red one. She sent me a picture, to contain her surprise. The questions that arise here, are two fold. Was it the selected varieties, or was the weather just generally a bit unaccommodating? I am going to say it was a reflection of both. Some of the varieties were the slower maturing ones, and I do think that the poorer weather-in comparison to last year-simply never gave them a fighting chance. Even the roses, suffered; but the gladioli kept going.
Soft fruit was a bit hit and miss. Strawberries, took flight, and we had enough to watch Wimbledon by. The runners are now running amok. Raspberries, well, the pink ones did precious little. With the autumn raspberries a bit confused and cropping quite well. Blueberries were a revelation, and for their first year did well. Didn’t scrump as many plums this year-I do actually scrump with consent-so there was a lot less plum jam and jelly made. But lots of courgettes and marrows lead to a relatively less busy preserving pan. For the first time ever, we had ice cream made using plot produce. Something that I highly recommend, even I don’t really like strawberries.
With October starting, I have my seed garlic ordered; and will be trying to shoe horn time in between now and late November to get it sunk. I don’t tend to sow over wintering broad beans anymore. Beyond that, the major autumn winter task is to remove the dead plants and start clearing away. All the dead plants will most likely be composted where they are are, and covered with leaves and other organic material. Creates compost, helps improve the soil, and I am filling the raised beds til they are needed again in Spring.
Whilst everything on the plot is an achievement. There was something else. I wrote this.
‘Playing with plant pots: Tales from the allotment’
To find out more about it, you’re just gonna have to get it.
This can feel like a very depressing, dark and dank time of year. Especially when you have see the bright, blooming and bountiful delights of colour, crop and your own creativity. It then become difficult to see the light, more positive side of things. Autumn and winter can be time of reflection, taking stock and making decisions as to how you would like to proceed. That is certainly the route that I will be taking. Tackling the plot bit by bit, setting lists to work through. It has taken six years to get to this point, so there is little point in hurrying.
I really need to go check the inside of my seedboxes.
The grapevines had keeled over. With the heavy clay being so dry with the lack of rain, the makeshift frame supporting them had fallen. Much panic ensued-I had only gone to harvest raspberries-to right the frame and wedge it back into the dirt.
However, it was necessary to call Dad in, and see if he could engineer something more robust. In fact one side, is still a bit lop sided and another review is required. The frame as it is, was built when the vines were planted, very new and wiry. However, they have seen grown, trailed and true to their name; vined.
There is an abundance of leaves, and a few bunches of grapes that the boskoop glory and madeline sylvaner have produced as you can see from the picture above. Not enough this year, for a homebrew experiment. The crop is rather sweet, and the varieties are in fact dessert grapes.