Garden round up

It's been a funny old gardening year. Started late, because of various distractions. Andy took a garden sabbatical (I think he was traumatised from the demise of our polytunnel) so I had to see to it all single handedly, in spare moments. And, at the risk of destroying any illusions that we live in a tranquil, rural paradise - we have been living next door to this;

The bush in the left hand corner is in our garden and the strip inbetween is our neighbour's garden. It began in late spring, and our little old terrace of cottages shuddered and shook as the wrecking ball demolished the ugly 1960's retirement home which had previously stood there. All day, nearly every day (even at weekends) since then, we have lived with the accompanying noise of big diggers, industrial tools, shouting navvies, chainsaws, drills - well, the usual cacophony. So time in the garden has been infrequent and as needs be.

But despite all that, we've had a pretty good year. Picking funny little harvests and wondering how to bung it all together.

Eaten string beans when we wanted. Lots of them.

Custard squash were a triumph: what a great little vegetable they are - and when they are young, can be eaten skin and all. If you store them, then just cut them in half, roast them and scoop them out of their rind bowl.

Potatoes were meagre and very disappointing; we have had barely any rain here all year. I tried to keep them watered with my bucket - no hoses here - but it was a sparse result.

So the garden quietly slips into scruffy dishevelledness. A few things linger, thanks to the unseasonably warm weather, but it is time for a winter rest.

Oh, but tomatoes - the tomatoes excelled! The seriously cold snap must have killed off any blight we had lingering, and they have thrived.

All the plants are now stripped back to stalks and fruit. Despite a night's frost last week, the plants are still strong and healthy.

And I continue to pick ripe tomatoes in November, which is extraordinary.

I also like to leave green tomatoes to gradually ripen indoors - they will last into late November at least, just left to hang.

We are still living next door to a building site, except that now some of the houses have been built - which means that this time next year, we will have new neighbours. The time to move has definitely come.

But at least I still have some last nasturtiums to enjoy.


Unknown said...

Who could garden in an atmosphere like that? I don't blame you for not wanting to be outside. But what amazing tomatoes you have...I'm really jealous!

Julia Kelly said...

Glad you can at least still eat such good things in November!

Vintage Jane said...

We are still picking ripe toms too - I have never picked them this late in the year. I am going to try growing some of those squash next year. I don't know the name of the squash we grew this year but they weren't very prolific and pretty bland. We made some into soup last night and it tasted like dishwater! M x

Nancy said...

A very Southern US dish is Fried Green Tomatoes which taste so good with malt vinegar. It uses up the last of the tomatoes that don't make it to the "I can ripen inside" state. Your garden is so wonderful. We've been so hot and dry we were able to do nothing except live off the kindness of strangers who garden at the community gardens. I love learning new names - the custard squashes over here are often called "patty pan" squashes. Custard squashes sounds much more yummy.

ted and bunny said...

I can really empathise with your building site cacophany...we have woods backing on to our garden which the National Trust decided to begin felling last month- 58 mature oak trees to come down and be replaced.

This meant chainsaws going all day every day from dawn til dusk, and as the woods are on a slope they had to bring in caterpillar tracked vehicles to get the trunks out onto the flat to be collected...and how the caterpillar made the very foundations of our house shiver and shake!

They've now had to abandon work as the hill is too slippery to allow anyone to get up or down, so all around our house looks like the Somme, feet deep in mud.

Joys of the counryside!

Emma-Jayne said...

Fresh tomoatoes in November... jealous.
I feel for ya on the builders bit. before moving we lived in a flat and the flat under and the one across from that and the two on our level either side all picked the last 6 months to do diy. not fun.
hope you get some peace soon.

knutty knitter said...

We live in an old established area with mixed housing so no building estates thank goodness. There was a working quarry at the bottom of the street but it closed not long after I first moved here and is now a landscaped wonderland thanks to the mine manager who happened to love gardening. He opened it to the public too and so has the new owner. How lucky is that! :)

Hopefully you will get to somewhere more to your liking:)

viv in nz

Emm@ said...

I cut my loses and brought in all the toms I could back in mid September, thinking autumn was well and truly here! Slightly regretting that now, but it does mean I have lots of jars of green tomato chutney that have just got to the eating stage.

Kathi said...

Gorgeous pics of your bounty! I live in a highly populated neighborhood where our houses are way too close to each other. My garden is small but when I am in it, I pretend I am transported to a magical place away from other people. This usually works until I look up... Sigh... ♥

Trailshome said...

Lovely, lovely garden goodies. That's the perfect tomato there in your hand. We lost all our tomatoes weeks ago to blight, but have lots canned and frozen to enjoy. We grew the little patty pan squashes this year too, and they were so good. I picked them young and soft, cut them in half, and grilled them with a little olive oil and seasonings. Delicious. Love the green beans too.
How awful to live next to that noise all summer. I sure hope things quiet down for you soon.

Janet Metzger, Artist said...

Hey Gretel,

I'm ready for my tomato salad!!!! Wow, what a great crop you had...some olive oil/red wine vinegar and herbs and you have a meal.

So sorry about all the commotion next door...must be very distracting. Hope you are able to move soon.

Loved the late season peek into your garden...enjoy the day!

Janet xox

Frances Tyrrell said...

Your next-door developments immediately made me think of Watership Down and the fearsome tractors, the Hrududu. I accept that ugly (plain at best) developments rip up the landscape in my part of the world but it seems like a desecration for it to be happening on the green fields of England. Especially in The Middle of Nowhere!
Love your tangled garden,

Anonymous said...

What an amazing crop of tomatoes, and I love the look of the squashes. Good luck with the house hunting/moving!!

Claire said...

Hey Gretel, great tomato harvest and one good thing to come out of the cold Winter.....no blight.

Can't beat a fresh tomato sanger eh?

We're still eating last season's tomatoes that I froze and our tomato plants in the garden have a couple of flowers on them already, so I better clear out the freezer in readiness, hehe.....

Love fresh beans, could eat bucketloads of them.

Shame about all the noise and development going on around you.........time to upsticks and find your tranquil, rural paradise somewhere else.

Frances said...

Gretel, it's great to see what your gardening grew this year. The custard squash are really pretty, and those tomatoes...well, gosh, I would love to help you all gobble them all up. I always feel a bit sad when tomato season gradually does close down.

Now, about that construction site just beyond the second fence. You clearly do not dwell in the middle of nowhere. The newly constructed somewhere doesn't look too inspiring either...although I am sure lots of folks will love it.

I'm so lucky that my little NYC street is so relatively quiet for this city. Right now, I don't even have the radio on, and I hear no sounds other than my fingers tapping on the keyboard. True!

Hoping you all are going to find a great place for relocation. xo

Claire B said...

Hello, I just found your blog a few days ago and have been enjoying reading through the archives, it's magical your work is beautiful and so neat, I can see the love and care that goes into your work. I'm so sorry that your little corner of the world has been taken over by developers, it really does spoil our country side.
I noticed on one of your post you used thimbles to protect your fingers from stabings, I don't know if you still do this but try taping little scraps of leather around your fingers like sticking plasters, it's an old jewellers trick for polishing fiddly bits, you get a better feel of your work while still being protected.
sorry for the rambling long comment. Love your blog, will be visiting again.

Bee said...

Oh Gretel, I do feel for you! There are few things as nerve-fraying as the constant sounds of construction. I'm amazed that you managed to grow anything at all, never mind such a good haul! Those custard squash are really charming; hollowed out, they would make a nice house for Arriety and other small people.

We still have raspberries! I keep making jam; quite bizarre for November. I hope to be able to meet up with you soon -- and I will bring you a jar. Thanks for your supportive comments. xx

Biscuit said...

hello Gretel, trying to catch up with old blogging friends from my Willow House days and I've come over here to find you a published author. So exciting, a dream come true for you. I'm so pleased.
Garden looks great too!

rachel said...

Definitely time to move. I can recommend it whole-heartedly!

Erica-Jane Waters said...

Looks like we'll both be searching for new homes then! Our house has sold and we are gradually nudging our way nearer you! Gorgeous toms, I could eat tomatoes until they came out of my ears!
Erica xxx

Soozcat said...

Nothing beats a homegrown tomato. Too many supermarkets specialize in selling Tomato-Like Objects instead. TLOs resemble real tomatoes the way some rocks resemble eggs -- a superficial similarity and a grave disappointment to eat.

My mom pickles wedges of green tomatoes with dill and vinegar and spices, the same way she pickles cucumbers. They come out really well.

Your plans to move are wise indeed. Where are you headed next?

Michelle Walker said...

Ooo lovely. Great to eat home produce. I try to grow as much of my own food as possible using permaculture principles.
Thankfully we are at the start of the growing season....i was so sick of winter veggies.