Gloom and despondency – End of the Month View, September 2012

Actually, the gloom level isn’t too bad, and this is more of a harvest report than an EOMV. It’s thoroughly vile outside again – hence the ‘gloom and despondency’ – so any more conventional EOMV shots for review would be unedifying, but I’m broadly cheerful. That’s because I’ve got the Great Autumn Chutney Making out of the way.

Not so Great this year, so I don’t know if I’ll be selling any. This is my apple crop for 2012:

Yup, that’s the lot. Except for the ones the birds have had a real go at, the ones which are more peck than apple. Considering the normal conditions of excessive, impressive, extraordinary glut, the circumstances that mean all my friends run for cover if they see me approaching with bulging carrier bags, this is quite something. I know I whined about the hassle last year, but I didn’t mean anyone to take me literally!

Reviewing the veg and fruit this year has been interesting. There have been some disasters: the onion, ahem, ‘crop’, for instance. Or the shallots which rotted in the ground. The same applied to the spuds, but at least I salvaged enough not to have to buy any between June and September, and that’s much better than last year, when I got blight. Er – the potatoes did, not me.

And so, in a spirit of stupidity blind optimism, I have ordered seed potatoes for next year, because Ratte – my all-time favourite – are back in stock at Thompson and Morgan. And I do remember that I said I wouldn’t order from them after last year, but they’re the only people I’ve found so far offering Ratte in anything other than industrial quanties. Slapped in a garlic order too, and one for shallots. But no onions. I suppose I’ve learned something!

I didn’t expect much from the beans this year after they got off to such a slow and dispiriting start – if it wasn’t freezing or windy or wet, there were giant slugs for them to contend with. In the end I’ve had a reasonable crop, and one drawer of the downstairs freezer is full.

But I am afraid that this is the last, except for the few I’ve left on to grow up for next year’s seed beans. And what of the greenhouse, since the toms seem to have snuck into shot here?

It’s been great, though that’s it now.

The last of the tomatoes have been picked. All the green ones were incorporated in the Great Chutneying, and the red and semi-red ones are waiting for the oven to be free. I make Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s roast tomato passata and freeze huge quantities, and there’s a good green tom recipe on that link, too. That passata is just wonderful in the dark days of January (or late September, come to that).

But I’ll miss popping into the greenhouse and emerging, slightly sticky, having snacked on some small Prince Borghese. As it were. I might try some new varieties next year…

I’m not quite sure what this one is, for instance. I think my seed may have got mixed up as this doesn’t match anything I thought I’d planted. Again. (And yes, these were not photographed today, I admit it. Today I’d have needed vast, Hollywood-style lighting rigs to get anything.)

The peppers, which I grew as a public service – some friends had too many seedlings and didn’t want to throw them out – have been OK. I’m not going much further than that, because I think they were the vector for white spider mite. But I treated that with encarsia wasps – quite impressed. Anyway, I got some fruits,

which is more than I’ve done in the past, and they are attractive… but they do take up a lot of room for not that much return. Hmm.

Well, I suppose it is an EOMV post of a kind, so there ought to be at least one shot of the outside world. Here it is:

I’ve lost my throne, which changes the whole feel of the middle garden. I thought I’d decided what I was going to do, and now I find I haven’t. Obviously the wall needs rebuilding, and I do need to address the question of the ‘path’ with its extra tree-root decoration, but I’m a bit stumped (agh – sorry, I swear that was unintentional). Running to the left bottom corner and out of shot is a narrow border, presently full of daffodils which now need moving (too exposed) and sweet williams which don’t flower (though they now may, as there’s more light). At the moment I’m thinking of rooting up the lot and replacing them with a low and informal cotton lavender hedge – but everything will probably change…


34 Comments Add yours

  1. Christina says:

    The change in season seems to be making everyone think of change for their gardens too! Your crops aren’t too bad! The beans look great, I didn’t have much luck with my climbing beans, only the dwarf varieties were successful. Christina

    1. kate says:

      How interesting about the dwarf beans – I’ve given up on them, and that’s a shame because I dearly love a golden bean, and all the best are dwarves. Round here they just end up muddy and slug-molested. Actually, it’s not been that bad a season overall – one thing is dire, and something else is OK… gardening, eh?

  2. Dobby says:

    No spare apples then this year. And there was me planning on making some apple pies with your spares;-)
    I have no doubt that you will change your mind on what to do with your newly gained space nearly every week as we edge towards Spring. (See I am being positive and thinking about Spring already).
    I have been in the kitchen cooking muffins today (charity sale at work tomorrow) and had to turn my light on. Very dark and very, very miserable.

    1. kate says:


      I’m amazed actually because the crab apples are empty as well, and they have always been laden. I expect it was that amazing weather in March, when there weren’t any pollinators about, and then the cold snap that followed it. Next year I’ll remember you want apples!

  3. paulinemulligan says:

    I know the feeling, trying to give away bags of apples, well, this year there will be just enough for us. We were late getting our beans in and have had quite a good crop so far, still plenty more to come with extras in the freezer for later. Other veg was not so good. You seem to have done far better than me, look on the bright side, there’s always next year!!

    1. kate says:

      I suppose the apple situation makes a refreshing change!

      On the other veg front, I didn’t mention my courgettes and squashes in the post because I’m still finding the whole subject very difficult to deal with. All that space allocated to them, and have I had a single courgette? No, I have not.

  4. Cathy says:

    It’s good to have honest posts like this as it confirms that we all suffer from the same sort of issues with our gardens – why did I grow this? what shall I do here? what on earth am I going to do with all the ….?! I certainly feel now that I will not be letting the side down if I don’t bother with certain veg next year, particularly the ones I grow (well, play at growing) every year but never get any real crop from – so next year no onions, no leeks, no potatoes, no….

    1. kate says:

      Well, I did toy with the idea of posting some old photographs and lying through my teeth, but Karen (Artist’s Garden) lives just down the hill from me and would undoubtedly have revealed the nature of reality. Oh well… and it’s still ******* raining….

      (No leeks for me either – strangely, given it’s the national plant along with the daff, I can’t grow them. I get weedy pencils which either fall over or suddenly go to seed.)

  5. and there was me thinking I should grow more veg next year perhaps a re think is in order, I guess your current weather is much like mine up here on the west side, look at your stump garden as an opportunity for something new, when the rain started here I lifted the onions I’d grown as I thought too much rain would not be good for them I’m glad I did, like Pauline says there is next year which you seem to already be planning for, Frances

    1. kate says:

      Weather – ah, yes, but you had a drought. I dream of drought (but I probably wouldn’t like it in reality). You were very wise with your onions – wish I’d done something similar, but then all I had at that stage was marbles….

      1. yes Kate and I wish the drought was still with us, I think you would enjoy a drought, I think you really have to have had much too much rain to appreciate drought, if you have no water at all that’s different I mean drought where you can do at least some watering, I had a book from the library recently called ‘the wet garden’ he said near the beginning of the book that wet is much harder to deal with and much harder on plants than dry, I am still finding plants that have been killed by the incessant rain we had last year and earlier this year, you need a polytunnel to keep off the rain or maybe raised beds with closhes over the veggies, last year in all the rain I did manage to grow potatoes and shallots but they were planted on a slope near alder trees so a good bit of the rain was taken by the trees or drained away, I hope you and Karen get some dry weather soon, Frances

        1. kate says:

          You – and that author – are so right. You can add water (to a certain extent) but taking it away is virtually impossible, or at least it is when you’ve had as much as we have recently. I have been wondering if I can do anything on the raised beds lines. We shall see – got lots to do this winter anyway…

  6. I tried growing peppers this year and dare I say they were the only thing that was bug free!
    What a shame about your apple crop!
    Looking at your strangley shaped tomato, some of thoseappeared in my garden a couple of years ago. I never did know the variety as I bought from a german guy at a car boot sale. They looked really odd, but they were the sweetest tomatoes ever!
    Overall your crop has not been too bad this year 🙂

    1. kate says:

      I’m not speaking to you – bug-free peppers indeed! Hrumpf!

      This is the second year that I’ve had the weird tomatoes, and I thought I’d practiced good seed hygiene this year. I think it must be time to start afresh, but given your experience maybe they are a named variety and not some odd hybrid. Intriguing…

  7. wjoops the word should be strangely shaped tomatoes!

    1. kate says:

      I’m going with strangley, I think that sums them up!

  8. Lyn says:

    I was a bit worried when I read the “Gloom and Despondency” title, so I’m relieved that you’re feeling okay despite the weather. You haven’t lost a throne, you have gained a new spot to plant in! I’m sure you’ll think of something wonderful to do with it. Inspiration will strike, it always does when you’re a gardener. And your small apple crop at least means that now your friends won’t run when they see you coming, which has to be a good thing. Sorry to be so cheery, but it’s Spring here, so cheeriness is non-optional. 🙂

    1. kate says:

      Grrrrrr. Spring, my ****. It’s still raining here (having done all September’s rain in one day, the weather’s now having a go at breaking October records too), and the shops are full of chocolate snowmen. Enjoy your spring. Grrrr.

  9. Hi there Kate – It has been an awful year for veg I agree – but what you have still looks lovely! (and so much better than my allotment). Especially those tomatoes. But as every gardener knows, hope springs eternal! Happy gardening, regards Ursula

    1. kate says:


      (If hope didn’t spring eternal round here I’d have given up on spuds and grown something else, like more weeds. Instead, I’ve bought two packs, not just one. Sigh.)

  10. hillwards says:

    Sorry about your low apple harvests. We’re still at the ‘one or two apples from each tree’ stage anyway, which is probably just as well for our young espaliers. Especially the one which lost its top tiers to a trampoline attack in the spring winds! The crab apple tree we always forage from had a pitiful crop this year too, barely enough for a couple of jars of jelly. 😦
    You’ve had some good harvests though, *and* you managed to avoid blight in the greenhouse, which is more than we did! Our greenhouse chillis and peppers are still all tiny bumps, I’ll be very surprised if we see an edible pepper this year given it’s October already! I still have high hopes for some of our squashes, there is one big orange beauty hiding beneath the leaves…
    Nice to look forward to next year, and have a new area to sculpt…

    1. kate says:

      I’ve a favourite foraging tree, too – and mine is virtually empty. Hiss, boo.

      There was one nasty moment when I thought blight was going to invade the greenhouse (I contantly expect it, because I always, but always, overplant) but it just turned out to be me being an incompetent tomato plants’ mother. I’ve never had much joy with peppers before, so I do sympathise – and empathise – with you on the ‘tiny bumps’ front. But I’m not speaking to you, Person With Squashes.

  11. I rather like the image of you putting up an industrial-scale lighting rig just to photograph the greenhouse for EOMV! Such a shame about the apples – bet next year you run out of carrier bags for them though, that’s how it goes. I am sitting on my hands, metaphorically speaking, with regard to seed, potatoes, shallots etc. I have to complete the beds and fill them before I can do that. I can do patient… And hey, the autumn/winter is the perfect time to daydream about what to do now that your throne has been lost, and you’ll know you have it right when you stop changing your mind. That’s how it works for me anyway. Says she who moved the newly planted fatsia 8″ today…

    1. kate says:

      Well, if something isn’t it the right place, it’s not in the right place – even if it’s only out by 8 inches. Yes, I know what you mean about the apples, and I’m bearing in mind the ‘one good year, one rubbish year’ adage, but my rubbish years just mean 10,000 plastic bags as opposed to 10,000,000. A third of a bucket is not playing the game.

      I’m impressed by your restraint!

  12. Anna says:

    I thought that I took the biscuit with ‘gloom and despondency’ with my EOMV post Kate 🙂 Your post is much cheerier though. You have beans – beans to eat and to freeze – well done – my three attempts morphed into has beans. As for the apples I think that we went from the sublime to the ridiculous as last year saw such bumper crops. I think that I have seen ‘Ratte’ somewhere else other than T&M – will let you know if and when I come across them again. Probably a good idea though to get your order in early – have a feeling that seed potatoes might be scarce.

    1. kate says:

      Nah, your post isn’t despondent at all. Even if you have had the ‘little brown envelope of doom’ from the allotment people. Like the has beens, but yes, I have had beans. At least that doesn’t give the title of this blog the hollow, mocking ring which it had last year after I mananged to produce a bean. Or two, but hardly worthy of a plural.

      Yes, I thought that about the spuds – it could be a tight year. And the last time I ordered Ratte I got Belle de Fontenay instead. Not that there’s a problem with that (I like BdF), but I wanted Ratte. Will not be a happy bunny if I get another substitute.

  13. Somehow and entirely freakily we have loads of apples – perhaps not quite the industrial quantities we usually produce but certainly enough to give away. Come over here and I will give you some. Combine it with a visit to Abakhan? come on, you know you want to…

      1. kate says:

        Oh, rats, I suppose that means we’ll have to come over, what a hardship. And there was I thinking I could be strong-willed on the Abakhan and apples front!

    1. kate says:

      Well, you do have a lot of trees… Having decided, after last year, that I didn’t want another apple tree, I’m now beginning to reconsider. Maybe I do.

      Stop on the Abakhan front. Of course I want to!

  14. As you know my greenhouse has suddenly filled up with tomatoes, not sure how that happened so thank you for the recipe link passata on everything for the next few days as we have got rid of the freezer as it was gobbling electricity and only had a packet of frozen peas in it. Although you have called this post gloom and despondency … you have done a lot better than some in the veg growing department this year. It is always swings and roundabouts isn’t it!

    1. kate says:

      Your toms are amazing – one minute there weren’t that many, and the next – loads. they do surprise you, veg, don’t they? Most odd. Hope you enjoyed whatever you decided to do with them!

  15. wellywoman says:

    You’re not alone in the poor apple harvest if that’s any consolation. We can only now think to next year. I would highly recommend Blauhilde climbing beans, which despite the shocking summer were brilliant and never stringy. As for my dwarf yellow beans they were rubbish this time. I’ll put that down to the summer and give them another try next year. I’d be so impressed with a haul of tomatoes like you’ve had.

    1. kate says:

      I’d been wondering about Blauhilde, so that’s good to know. I’m addicted to Cosse Violette, but there’s no denying that they can be selective croppers. Or they can be with me, anyway…. I gave up on the dwarf yellows a couple of years ago as they blended into the mud rather too well. In fact, I gave up on dwarf beans full stop.

      At least the toms have been a consolation!

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