The garden was on fine form in August, despite fluctuating weather, as we continued to pick veg like crazy and reconvened the ongoing weed battle.
There has been the usual gluts, namely the cucumbers and courgettes. A few packs of seed have been so prolific and the pickings are always massively popular with visitors. There are always the ever-popular crops of beetroot and beans, though the traditional runner beans are a much easier sell than the blue coco french beans. I think it’s the colour that puts people off, as a little persuasion is needed at times to turn eyes towards the purple beans (even though they do actually turn green immediately upon being put in boiling water).
So what else was on the harvesting list in August? I feel a list is the easiest way to explain. There was a mass of potatoes (Milva variety proved themselves a fantastic main crop choice), rainbow chard, kale, tomatoes, spring onions, a range of herbs – basil, thyme, sage, lovage and mint – as well as the last of the blackcurrant and the start of the autumn raspberries.
It was a big job to lift all the onions. After folding the tops to start the drying process (and also to create a talking point for interested visitors) they were all lifted and laid out on racks to dry. So in the near future they will be going to the kitchens and onto the stall. There was maybe close to 900 in total and, if I can say so myself, they look impressive.
The main talking point in the Walled Garden recently has been the huge pumpkins that continue to grow. There are 4 or 5 of the ‘Big Max’ pumpkins that dominate the squash patch and it looks like we may need a wheelbarrow to move them. Visitors seem really struck by them and I am excited to see how big they are come Halloween.
However, there has admittedly been some incidents. The strong winds from a few weeks ago brought one of our rows of runner beans supports crashing to the ground. Unfortunately the plants could not be saved and we lost a third of our beans. Luckily there was so many plants out in that we can lose a third and still get a crop that more than suffices.
Quite a few of the strings supporting the tomatoes also snapped and the plants took a tumble. Luckily it didn’t damage them but it did require extra supports put in place to protect the plants and try to ensure they stay upright for the rest of the season. It has also been a slow process to get a lot of the tomatoes to ripen, but by removing a lot of leaves they should get much more light in to help the process.
The main other chore, bar harvesting, has been weeding and it is a continuous battle. They seem to spring up so quickly and it is difficult to keep on top of it. Getting out there with a hoe and chipping away regularly does make a difference but it does feel like a slog at times.
Flowers have been flourishing and we are putting bunches together daily for visitors to take home, but on a weekend the bunches fly off the stall quicker than volunteers can make them. They do look fantastic and it is great to see visitors relish the chance to take them home.
It was definitely a busy month and September promises to be the same. It is also a time where green manure are sown to over-winter and time to start thinking about what to grow next year. But there still remains lots of crops to pick and lots of weeds to battle over the next few months. As usual I’ll put lots of walled garden pictures on my Instagram.