My garden is my safe space, my peace space, my connecting with the earth space.
It nourishes me, it feeds me, it grows me.
I wish I could always be in my garden. But I can't.
My time and my productivity in the garden ebbs and flows.
For the first half of this year it was more ebb than flow.
Health problems, family issues and too much Steem meant I missed much of the early growing season and got behind.
But fortunately in the second half of the year I have been able to devote much more time to my garden and gain back lost ground.
So my gardening this year is rather an "experiment in lateness". Trying to see what I can still get to harvest even when the starts were many weeks past the recommended planting dates.
In my little attempt to trick mother nature's seasonal schedule I have relied much more on my greenhouses and polytunnel to win over a little more warmth to extend the growing season by a few more weeks.
So to begin my 'Garden Update' I will start in the oldest of the three greenhouses in the back garden...
The Back Greenhouse
This was our first greenhouse we built about 8 years ago. We changed the polycarbonate windows about 3 years ago which gave it a new lease of life. It more or less faces south...
The greenhouse had never had a proper floor since it was built, but finally a few weeks ago I got that sorted - and was very happy with the result.
I used the Roman road building ideas I vaguely remembered from school layering some reused landscape fabric, followed by bigger stones, then some 'two and half to dust' mixed gravel, topped with an aesthetically pleasing layer of my remaining bag of pea gravel.
This looks good, but also keeps the weeds down, retains some heat in the stone and deters slugs.
This greenhouse seems to be the best of the three for germinating seeds and bringing on young plants.
It is now mid October and I still have quite a few trays of seedlings on the go. Although it is now only a very few weeks until the first frosts arrive so I am not sure if they will all make it to later life...
One of my targets this year has been to clear old seed stocks. I had four boxes of seed packets some dating back 15 years! I didn't want to throw any seed away so I gave them all a chance.
Many that I sowed didn't make an appearance but I was delighted to see some rhubarb seeds (Glaskins Perpetual) that were about 6 years old did come up strongly. I really hope I can grow these on to full plants ready to go outside in the spring.
These were planted two months ago in mid-August and oddly in the past week or so a number of seeds that failed to germinate before have just popped up...
I am also experimenting with some very late potatoes planted around the same time as the rhubarb. One 30 litre tub of four Charlotte potatoes and another of Sarpo Mira. The seed potatoes had been lying around since spring and were somewhat shriveled but they have made a good showing so far.
I should have probably raised them to window height to prevent them straggling for the light but they still seem quite energetic so I am looking forward to seeing what sort of yield they give...
Despite my planting tardiness this year you are never too late for salad leaves. I have a couple of different trays on the go that provide me with more or less continuous salad greenery as needed.
Salad leaves like this can be grown more or less anytime, any where. Everyone should grow their own. If you only have a tiny flat there is still room for a tray on a window sill.
A packet of seeds only costs a dollar or two and will provide 10 to 15 servings of leaves on average. There would be a good bit of environmental gain for the planet if every household grew their own salad leaves rather than buying them in plastic bags from the supermaket...
I had moved most of my strawberries to outside beds and some to the polytunnel. But still the place they fruited best has been this back greenhouse. So I've been potted up some young plants from runners to occupy the top shelf and hopefully give another good double cropping in this greenhouse next summer...
Fuchsias are also making a come back in this greenhouse. I did move most of them to one of the glass greenhouses last year but they were badly hit by heavy frosts and I thought they had all gone. However when I was clearing them earlier in the summer I found a few tiny shoots and I managed to give them some TLC and magically restore them to full health. Some are even about to flower.
Most of these are of the variety 'Genii' that produces quite tasty edible berries...
I do enjoy this little back greenhouse. We have been considering extending it across to double the size as we still have a supply of the polycarbonate glazing panels.
It would be great to add some sort of solar lighting system in there - which reminds me I must catch up with @samstonehill again on this.
There is still a lot more going on and growing on in this greenhouse that I haven't mentioned - peas, bunching onions, tomatoes, squashes, lupins and one cucumber gallantly trying to make a cucumber get to size before it gets too cold.
And over winter I will be filling the shelves with trays of acorns, cobnuts and hazelnuts hoping to raise a whole forest of baby trees next year.
Next time I will take you round the glass greenhouses.
Til then good night and happy gardening.
[ images by @pennsif ]