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October 2010

September 2010

Harvest for this w/e 26/09/10


The last few weeks have seen me making tomato meals by the dozen, but today I cleared out the greenhouse of all but 3 plants, so I do have rather a lot more to deal with.

I've also harvested the last of the french beans today, and the Kohl rabi - very small, but the caterpillars had eaten practically all of the leaves, so they're not likely to get past golf ball size, so i've picked them to use in coleslaw. We also picked the last few carrots, - most had split and were no use, so William got the last 2. The courgettes are still producing. I've cleared out the climbing plants, harvesting 8 rather nice small ones, and the yellow ones still have lots coming even though i've picked 5 this week.

We're back onto lettuce again now, with the Can Can at harvesting size, and rocket and salad leaves coming on fast. The Chervil and parsley have been great this week, and i've also used Sage, coriander seeds and Rosemary in cooking.

I've also used the first of the chilli peppers, and i've got a great harvest coming, and i'm very pleased to have picked my first Marconi Rosso pepper today, - fully red.

The fruit's still coming, my blueberries and raspberries were cup winners last week at the West Horsley Horticultural Society show, and as well as them, i've had more apples this week, they're still making excellent juice, and more damsons from the tree hanging over the fence.

Lawn still looking poorly

This spring was one of the driest on records, - until it became one of the wettest Augusts! - so lawns were put under a lot of strain early in the year. Consequently there were lots of dry brown patches. Now though, with the rain soaking almost all of the country for weeks, your lawn should be growing and lush, - and if there are still bare patches, it could be down to this little fellow

The glove is there to give you some idea of scale, as this Chafer Grub can be as long as 2-3 cms. and its favourite meal is the roots of your grass.

This one was found at the edge of a border when we were doing some planting. The lawn nearby had several bald patches.

The solution, - well the lawn patches are dead, so you will have to rake out the dead thatch and reseed those areas, but the root of the problem is (pardon the pun) at the roots. So to keep you lawn looking good, a yearly deterrent against these fellows is needed at this time of year (and yes it is only usually the right temperature and weather conditions from the end of August to the end of September.)

Nemasys Chafer Grub killer contains microscopic worms which will do the job for you, so if you still have bare patches and the lawn is looking poorly, - get on and order this weekend.

Courgette glut?

It's at this time of year, when harvest is in full swing, that it can get to the point when you can have too much of something.


Courgettes are one of those crops where given a bit of rain, and half a chance, they'll take over your garden and produce so many fruits, that you might give up picking them and vow (like my husband) to never eat them again.

But that would be a big waste, as they are very versatile, and even better, if you keep picking them, you will continue to get new fruits until the frosts arrive.

So, if your veg patch is getting buried under several hundredweight of courgette foliage, - give them a trim. 

The courgette leaves all come from a central vine, which extends itself and produces courgettes only at the end.  If you cut off the leaves, the vine stem heals itself, but you can then see the stem and coil it around your patch to get the best light for the ripening courgettes, and so you can see them before they become inedible whoppers.

Don't give up on them.

If you have excess courgettes, why not try courgette lasagne, courgette soup, courgette and chocolate cake ,warm chickpea salad, Courgette and feta fritters, or stuffed courgette flowers

Do you know what's on your fruit?

As a mum, I'm delighted that my son loves fruit. Yes he loves chocolate biscuits as well, but he's active enough to wear those off. 


When he was a baby and I started weaning him, I tried lots of different things, and like most mums I read up on what's good and bad, should I go organic?.

What shocked me was that although I had heard the word organophosphate pesticide, I hadn't realised that the average industrially-produced apple may have been sprayed up to 16 times with 30 different chemicals. (source Soil Association website) and that the 4 types of fruit with the highest concentrates of pesticides in them were Apples, Peaches, Strawberries and Cherries. That started me using an organic box scheme 6 years ago, but when I moved to my current garden, I was lucky enough to have a mature apple tree.

Over the last 3 years i've added Strawberries, Blueberries, Rhubarb, Raspberries, A fig, a peach and my latest acquisitions are redcurrants and blackcurrants. With the damson tree that hangs over from next door, and the blackberries available in the hedgerows. I can get fresh fruit from my garden 8 months a year.


My parents used to grow lots of fruit in my childhood garden. I remember picking icecream tubs of raspberries to freeze, and of having enough gooseberries and redcurrants in the freezer when I set up home with my husband that we could make a decent amount of wine from them (the redcurrant was delicious and potent, the gooseberry tasted of burnt sugar and had a kick like a mule!)

BUT, my garden isn't as big as theirs was, - and i've got a boy who likes playing to make space for, plus I actually rather like to practice what I preach and have flowering plants in my garden. How can I fit it all in?

The good news is that a lot of fruit can be grown in containers, and can be trained to give the maximum harvest for the minimum earth coverage. While an apple or pear tree may take many years to get to its full fruiting potential and size, it will then fruit for decades, but strawberries can be harvested within 90 days of planting in the right conditions.

If you'd like to find out more about how you can grow fabulous fruit from tiny spaces, if you'd like to reduce the amount of pesticides you ingest and get fresh fruit to harvest for most of the year, - join me on Saturday 16th October for my fruit workshop in Horsley, Surrey. 

For more information and to book click here

Solanum nigrum, Nightshade deadly or not...

This week, i've spotted a lot of this weed.

It isn't Deadly nightshade, - but it is in the Solanum family and it is toxic, it's common name being black nightshade

It is Solanum Nigrum, and it seems to be seeding a lot this year in gardens i'm weeding, - particularly (worryingly) in those with young children. It likes disturbed soil, so if you've been digging it will love the turned over earth, and It's a fast grower, - getting to a foot high within a month to 6 weeks. The green berries are more poisonous than the ripe black fruit, - but I would suggest that this is one to remove with gloves and destroy whenever it is seen.