• Monday, October 26th, 2009
It is possible to grow grapes in the UK as long as you choose grape varieties which are suitable for growing in your region. In my case however I simply bought a rootless stick from a small village market in Languedoc Roussillon for a mere £2.50.
I chose a red grape variety called Alphonse Lavallée which is well-known as a good accompaniment to cheeses such as Comté or Gruyère for example. I did have second thoughts about buying a red grape variety since I was concerned about the weather in England, in particular the fact that it would need a lot of sun to ripen into red grapes. East Anglia enjoys some of the driest weather in the UK and just £2.50 I was happy to give it a go if only for the decorative quality of the vine.
I planted my twig two and a half years ago in my south facing garden and I have trained it to grow along the top part of a white painted brick shed. I was amazed to see some healthy shoots sprouting from such a small and frail rootless stick.
• Monday, October 19th, 2009
The month of October is an ideal time to sow green manure seeds, which will improve the structural quality of your soil. Green manures include mustard seeds, rye grass, etc. This month I am giving a go at sowing Mustard seeds which I have never grown before. Already after just a couple of days the mustard seeds have started to sprout in profusion, covering the area with a green carpet of leaves.
My neighbour reckons that I should be able to use some of the mustard plants to spice up my salads which I shall try. I bought my mustard seeds from a local small garden shop in Ely which supplies loose seeds sold by weight. But I think that I over-estimated the quantity as it seems that I have enough seeds to cover the whole of my vegetable plot!
Spring Onion is another crop which can be sown this month, or at least some varieties are suitable to Autumn sowings.
Hollyhocks in the garden
And there’s also still some time to sow lettuces such as Mizuma and Lamb’s Lettuce. I have also sown a few winter lettuces in my cold frame, which has a removable glass panel that was taken off in the hot summer months. When the first frosts arrive I shall put the panel back on to protect the lettuces from the worst of the cold weather. Hopefully this should enable me to make the most of the crop well into winter.
October is also a good month for sowing hollyhocks, and in fact I have noticed that the flowers heads in my garden are full of seeds ready to self propogate. I have already collected these before the arrival of the frost. Hollyhocks are really easy to grow but they will normally only start flowering the following year.
Another flower which can be sown and kept in a frost free place is Sweet peas. The advantage of sowing sweetpeas right now is that they will flower earlier next year. I will however need to take care of them and make sure that they make it through the winter.
Finally I may look into sowing some broad beans although my last year’s sowing suffered from the heavy snow and cold which we endured at the beginning of this year and resulted in a relatively poor crop.
As we step into the colder month of November the sowing activity will start slowing down but there will still be so much to do in the garden whilst I take stock of the new season to come.