26 Sept 2012

What a week for a holiday at home!

Veg Patch view Sept 2012
Before the stormy weather, a view of my little veg patch garden taken ten days ago. 
Top left, under the tree, is one single Striped Pyjamas spaghetti squash plant. ~ 
I've taken a few days off work this week, mainly to give myself the time to have a tidy round the veg garden, clearing, pruning, sowing (broad beans, flowers) and planting bulbs (tulips, daffs, onions). I'd anticipated pottering in warm sunshine.  Well, that didn't happen, did it?  Not that I'm complaining: I've seen news reports of floods in the North and photos of the terrible damage all these storms have wreaked.  I hope that gardening friends across the UK have made it through without the trauma of having their homes and gardens damaged - the worst I've experienced here in London is the loss of tall sunflowers (literally snapped in half) and 48 hours of rain which started last Sunday.

Sept basket harvest
~ Rainbow veg:
Purple potatoes, green achocha, orange bell pepper (tiny), yellow cucumber, red chillies ~ 

Luckily, the day before the deluge, I decided to start digging up the spuds growing under the fruit trees. These potatoes prove that there is such a thing as a free lunch: I didn't plant even one of these, they're all left over from the first batch popped in the soil in 2010! It seems there will always be one little tuber left behind to grow on next year.

There were no markers but they're easy to identify: these are Blue Danube, a maincrop potato with good blight resistance, vigorous and with pretty purple flowers. Last year the potatoes were small and I boiled them.  Not good as they fell apart in cooking.  Apparently, they're best roasted! Or sautéed. Or baked, which is just as well because this year, having left them in the ground for a good while, I've had some whoppers.

Blue Danube spuds

I'm hoping for some better weather later in the week as I really want to get my bulbs in.  There's also a good post over at Garlic and Sapphire about which flower seeds can be sown now in order to get a head start on the flower cutting garden next spring.

But, if the weather doesn't cheer up, I can practise my plant sketching. My garden design course requires that I learn four plant idents by this Friday; the rest of the first day was all introductions, student handbooks, library visits, cups of tea and where are the toilets! So far, my heart is still in the kitchen garden and I was glad to get back to my veg patch for some thinking space at the end of the day.  

I think we were started off gently as the plants to remember are all fairly common: Rudbeckia fulgida (Black-eyed Susan), Echinacea purpurea (coneflower), Verbena bonariensis (Vervain; a favourite at Chelsea last year) and Penstemon 'Firebird'. The first task on Friday morning will be to collect a pre-cut sample flower and sketch it.  It's been a while since I wielded a pencil so I'm getting some practise in beforehand and the rainy weather is perfect for that!

Salvia Amistad

To end with an uplifting image:  this bed of salvia and lavender signposts the path between the graphics studio and the tea room in the Capel Manor gardens - no getting lost with this bright splash of colour! 


  1. Lucky you finding a stray load of potatoes - and what whoppers! My chillis are taking forever to ripen - I think I'll have to bring them into the house to give them a bit more warmth. Lovely to see the salvias doing so well - all mine disappeared last winter. Shame that the weather has been rotten for your holiday at home. I have been outside all afternoon trying to get some order back in the borders - now I'm well and truly pooped!

    1. There's another patch of spuds to dig up when it stops raining AND I've got the Roosters and Charlottes that I knew about and planted myself! My chillis have been few and far between, mostly the flowers have dropped off leaving me with nothing so I'm glad of the few that I have got! Pleased to hear that you haven't suffered in the storms - I saw a photo this morning of a block of flats where the foundations had been washed away, leaving the flats standing on stilts! Scary!

  2. Shame about the weather when you wanted to do so much.
    I'm always finding stray potatoes. I had a quick look round my plot yesterday to see several sunflowers had been floored.
    It'll be interesting to see how you progress on your course. Flighty xx

    1. Somehow it's the demise of the sunflowers that is so disheartening. Next year I'm going to sow seed for a shorter variety of sunflower in the hopes that they fare better. The tall ones always look as though the first good wind will blow them over!
      I think it's rather fun finding potatoes that have been left behind - a bit like buried treasure!
      I'll be reporting back on the course as I go as I think that will prove another way of making all the knowledge stick! I have to learn over 150 latin plant names this year alone! xx

  3. Fantastic potatoes and as you say, all free! My courgettes are only just getting going again, most of the others rotted away in all our rain over the summer, runner beans are still giving me plenty, I was late getting them in and the sweetcorn isn't too bad but only one cob per plant.
    I'm sure your course will improve as time goes on, I suppose they have to aim it at people who don't know very much to start with, bit frustrating for you! Good luck with the sketching!

    1. It's a similar story here with sweetcorn reluctantly putting out one cob per plant, however I think they look so nice that I don't really mind. The plants at the southern end of the garden have fared much better than at the other end - you wouldn't think that 10 metres would make that much difference but, given the weather we've had this year, I suppose shade is shade! Something to bear in mind when planning my planting next year!

  4. What an awful week we've had, weather wise. There's flooding in some parts of Yorkshire, but luckily, we've escaped it. Such a shame that you should book some time off work to get something done in the garden, it certainly hasn't been gardening weather. I've grown Blue Danube potatoes in the past but had the same experience as you, they turned to much on boiling. I should have roasted them.

    1. Really pleased to hear that you escaped the worst of the weather, Jo. I feel so sorry for the people whose homes and gardens have been ruined. Interesting that we've had the same experience of Blue Danube; I'm going to roast a few and bake a few and see if my (low) opinion of them changes!


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