Home & Shop Companion #0080
letter from a small corner of far away
Dear Lynn, dear Everyone,
With frequent and sometimes heavy showers blown in by the wind, it has been an unsettled week here. After a few weeks of semi-neglect, some remedial action was required in the vegetable garden. But first, when the rain had softened the ground, I used Lucy to cultivate between the onion rows. I thought I might have got away without this cultivation after I hoed in the rows a few weeks ago, but this will definitely be the last time because the tops are starting to fall over, and soon I will pull them up and lay them on the ground to dry. We then cultivated through the fallow patches which had been too hard to work during the dry three weeks around hay time, so some weeds, the redshank in particular, have been gaining strength and starting to flower. This cultivation was less than ideal, trying to uproot mature plants, but that is what happens sometimes if the weather does not play ball.
Depending on what happens in the next week, I intend to sow a green manure. If I get on with it, in time for there to still be enough heat to germinate clover, I probably will sow Westerwolds ryegrass with red or white clover where the vegetables are now growing, because that green cover can then stay in place for eighteen months, until ploughed for vegetables again in 2023. The present fallow patches, however, will be under rye and vetch until next spring, and if I sow before the middle of September, there should be a good thick covering of the soil before winter, and plenty to plough in by springtime.
In the garden, I have rigorously thinned one of the apple trees of fruit, as the branches would surely break, and have been pulling up handfuls, wheelbarrow-fuls, of weeds, most of which have not yet set seed.
The vegetables are now looking better as they can see where they are growing, and for weeks we have not bought any vegetables, with the French beans just starting and the courgettes exploding in size before we pick them (being more COURG than ette, or, to put it in American-Italian English, they are more of the ‘mighty ZUCCH’ than the teensy-weensy ‘inni’).
The delight of the greenhouse, the Gardeners Delight tomatoes, are now producing trusses of bite size explosions of taste in the mouth, whilst the broad beans and early potatoes are now finished. I have also stopped digging potatoes to sell at the gate, after a month of bringing back a bucket full or two from the field each day. Of the original five rows, two are left, which will be left for the skins to set for us to eat over winter, though the tops are now starting to yellow, so I must decide whether it is blight and whether to chop the tops off. Today is the day to decide because this afternoon I need to go away for a few days, and if it is blight, minimising the reproduction of those fungal spores would be better done today. When I get back, I must start off some crops in the greenhouse for late autumn and winter eating, but I’ll tell you about that next time.
William Castle is a violin maker, farmer & SFJ contributor who lives in Shropshire, England.