Garden Diary November 2013

November is a time for change in the garden, it’s wintertime; however there is still a sense of Autumn; probably because of the beautiful array of colour; shades of yellow, brown and gold line the varied walks throughout. Even though it’s a less productive time there is still plenty produce to savour and enjoy! It’s a busy time here; there are lots of jobs to be completed in preparation for next year.

In all of the many different areas of the gardens, there are winter tasks in progress; e.g. tidying and weeding the soft fruit area, the fruit bushes will be mulched with homemade compost, which works by keeping weeds and disease under control. The rich humus contains an abundance of organisms such as beneficial fungi, which will happily feed over winter on the undesired pests and disease.  

The spring bulbs (daffodils and tulips) have been planted. The herbaceous borders in Lydia’s garden have been tidied and new bulbs and plants put in. Work on the main herbaceous borders in front of the shell house is almost complete; a little re-design in the ‘hot’ area, removal of annuals, cutting back and dividing perennials, pruning of small trees. In the last week the winds have change direction and the frosty nights have arrived so the more tender plants such as the Agapanthus must wait until springtime to be lifted and divided.

Apples (e.g. Allington Pippin, Egremont Russet and Ross Nonpareil to name a few) from the various orchards have been picked and either cooked or stored for the winter months ahead. Pruning will take place over the next couple of months.

In the glasshouses the tomato plants (bumper crop of tomatoes this year with oodles of flavour!) have being removed to make space for winter crops. Two varieties of kale fill the bays, a healthy and delicious vegetable for this time of the year. Hardy oriental salads, such as Mibuna and Mizuna together with watercress and rocket are growing in the protective environment. Herbs growing include, coriander, thyme and parsley. Romanesco, a colourful attractive alternative to the standard cauliflower is being harvested, a popular vegetable now served at nearby Ballymaloe house. Winter onions continue to dry in the canopy above, both red and green in abundance.

Fruit trees cordoned against the walls of the glasshouse include, vines, figs, apricots, nectarines, peaches, citrus (orange tree), pomegranate and kiwi, all productive this year with the favourable temperatures; their pruning has already taken place. The glass panes will be cleaned and any maintenance jobs required will be attended to this month.

The large vegetable growing area outside the glasshouse is still filled with vegetables ready for harvest; it includes: red and green cabbages, brussels sprouts, jerusalem artichokes, turnips, celeriac and last of the main crop potatoes.

A four-year crop rotation is in place in the gardens so the gardeners must now plan next years crops (inside and outside), variety and quantity based on this years results and requirements, and hence prepare the seed order.

There are lots of berries this year for the birds; Hawthorn, rose hips, holly, ivy and I must mention the magnificent tree specimen in the Pleasure Garden, it’s the Cornus capita or Evergreen Dogwood. It has the most amazing succulent red raspberry-like fruit and the birds love them!

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