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Late Summer in the Field

Late summer is spent more in the kitchen than in the garden.

I'm not trying to achieve "self sufficiency". The plan is for "food independence". But I can see how people can get the two mixed up, and to be honest, there's not a whole load of difference between them. I try not to correct people who call me "self sufficient", and for the sake of instagram hashtags, I deliberately confuse the two things myself.

Anyway, whatever this thing is that I am doing, the time spent in the garden is mostly harvesting. At least 80% of my food-production time is bottling, drying, chutney / pickle / chowder making and the growing part of things is just ticking by on its own. In the last 8 - 12 weeks of summer, I have to create enough "food" from "plants" for 52 weeks. More or less.

So, this is what the "food independent" garden looks like in the late summer. It's starting to get empty. There are only two rows of potatoes left to come out. About half of the roots are still in the ground; the parsnips, swiss chard and scorzoneras because they can stay there even beyond the snow, and the carrots because I've not got any sand to store them in yet. Sand should be coming this week. Which means I should get sharpish on the wooden boxes I need to make to put them in!

Over in the "misc" bed, most of what is left over there can go under the heading of "pig food". Any sweetcorns left are now far too hard for human teeth. There are still maybe 15 - 20 pumpkins left, but I've seriously run out of room to put them now and there is a chunk of fodder beet in front of the sweetcorn. Back in the potato / tomato bed, the spinach-looking row on the extreme right of your picture, that's all fodder beet as well - sown successionally after the super-early early potatoes came out.

In the bean break, there are many "dry on the vine" beans left, and the runners are still doing excellently. Now that I have cleared all the peas out of the way, you can clearly see the monumental disaster that was runner bean germination this year. Never again will I sow climbing beans of any sort directly into the ground. I did it for the first time ever this year (I have always started them off in pots inside before) an, as you can see, almost none of them came. I have now discovered extensive mouse damage. At least it wasn't entirely my fuck-up.

Everywhere that has been harvested has also been covered in winter ground cover. As usual, this is mostly alfalfa and clover, but this year, I am trying spinach as green manure. Every. Single. Spinach. Plant this year went almost directly to seed. Sometimes that happens. The net result was a) not a whole lot of spinach to eat b) a metric shit tonne of spinach seed. So, I'm trying it out as green manure. Which I can also eat.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Also on the photo, you can see (at the back of the polytunnel), the solar dryer. A post on this will be coming this week. And at the back of the veg garden, a beautiful pile of bricks. I will be getting another skip full of pre-enjoyed bricks on Monday this week, so I shall tell you all about them soon as well.

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