Equinox Garden 22nd Sept 2012

Zeb looks for something important under the sweet cicily

Cherokee Trail of Tears Beans

Hey Doc!

A quickie garden post for you and anyone else who is interested of course. At the moment in the garden we are still eating the fabulous Cherokee Trail of Tears beans, apart from the ones at the top of the vines, which I can’t reach even if I stand on a step ladder, so those ones will have to wait to be grabbed when we get a frost and I will use the beans themselves in a stew. We had a small crop of a nice dwarf yellow bean, but it didn’t do as well as these, which despite losing all their early leaves then took off in a big way a few weeks ago and raced for the sky.

Of the four sorts of tomatoes we tried, all grown outdoors, I think I am the only person in England who hasn’t had tomato blight, for reasons that escape me completely. The only thing I can think of is that we didn’t grow any last year and I don’t grow potatoes either.

Lateh tomatoes, my entire crop of lipstick red peppers, all eight fruits, and some of the figs from my brown Turkey fig tree

I have tried Lateh, Urbikanny and a new yellow millefleur type which has been very productive and is still ripening handfuls of tiny yellow fruits each day. I am thinking that the small tomatoes are perhaps the safest bet if the summers are cool, they seem to take less time to ripen than the big ones. I have one Bulgarian one which has big fruits but they still haven’t ripened and I am not sure they will.

Flower sprouts are go ( a cross between a Brussel Sprout and a kale)

Elsewhere the flower sprouts are huge plants now and casting shadows over the rest of the raised bed. We planted a handful of celeriac plants and some root parsley which I hope will be nice, but only tiny quantities.

Peashoots in boxes

I optimistically sowed some late seed, turnip broccoli, rocket, coriander, chervil, english winter thyme, salad mustards, peas (for pea shoots) and some Asian Green seeds from Joyce my Seedy Penpal, and some little rows of radishes and everything has popped up, though what will come of it remains to be seen. I am also seeing if I can get some Italian fennel to grow to bulb.

Angelica (Year 1)

I sowed some Angelica this year and managed to get some plants to ‘go’ so maybe next year I will be able to candy their stems.


I have oca in a couple of tubs sitting on the deck too.

Elsewhere, the everlasting sweet pea is running riot in a pink sort of a way, the fig tree is wasting its time producing more babies which won’t ripen now, but I had a few weeks of fresh fig eating bliss, no one else likes them so I don’t have to share, some of the perennial herbs and plants are having a bit of a moment, making new leaves, the oregano and marjoram are busy flowering away, they self seed all over the place, along with the weeds.

My apple tree has produced a few boxes of apples and the pear tree is sporting maybe a couple of dozen pears, nothing compared to last year so I won’t be bottling this year I think, though maybe some chutney if we don’t manage the apples.

Repotted supermarket plants

Oh yes and in the kitchen, two repotted basil plants are thriving (from the supermarket) and Brian came home with a chilli plant today so we have repotted that too.

I have bought loads of sweet pea seed which I mean to sow into modules and put in the cold frame next month and I have loads of things to try for next year, just no space. I eye up the lawn and think could we turn it into beds, but I don’t think I have the energy right now.

Cardoon head going to seed

We are letting these cardoon heads go to seed as we want to see if we can start some new plants and take the old ones out. We grow them mainly for the bees who love them.

There is glorious sunshine today and heavy rain forecast for the next three, so it goes.


I have kefir doing its thing merrily in the kitchen, a gift from Carl Legge, and an experimental jar of kimchi too made by me, which gave me the most terrible indigestion I have ever experienced but all’s fair in love and fermentation !

44 thoughts on “Equinox Garden 22nd Sept 2012

  1. Suelle

    I’ve escaped tomato blight this year, even though the neighbours growing their tomatoes less than 50 metres away had their crop ruined. I’ve only grown Sungold, an orange cherry tomato which is very sweet. The rest of the vegetable garden hasn’t been too successful though – wrong type of weather most of the year!

  2. drfugawe

    Oh dear, where to start? All I can think of is, ‘me too, me too’ Thank you for the update – your plants all look in fab condition (however, we gardeners don’t show our problem plants, do we! – at least I don’t.). I think our summers have been similar, although our rains have not started back yet – my winners this year have been, greens, lettuces, beets, beans, and green onions. I have no idea if my tomatoes and winter squash will ever ripen – I suspect they will run out of time.

    If your tomatoes don’t make it all the way, besides the many ‘pickles’ of which I’m sure you are aware, there’s a favorite of mine which originated in our American South, fried green tomatoes – you take a big unripe tomato (it must be light green however) and cut it into half inch slices – dry the slices slightly with a paper towel, and dip them into beaten egg/milk mixture – and then into some fine bread or cracker crumbs – when they’re all covered with crumbs, slip them into a skillet of a quarter inch of veg oil heated to med hot – let them brown on each side and drain them on paper towels – sprinkle with salt and pepper, and serve immediately. They don’t taste like ripe tomatoes, but something entirely different – we love them! And even if all our tomatoes were to ripen (oh what joy!), we’d still make some of these!

    Sorry if you already knew about fried green tomatoes – but maybe somebody else doesn’t. And you may also know that you can take those ‘half ripes’ (the light green tomatoes) and wrap them in newspaper and put them away in a box for several months, during which they will ripen – and if a few do not, just make some more fried green tomatoes!

    1. Joanna Post author

      Problem plants ? I sowed stuff that simply didn’t germinate at all, but I guess I can’t show you pics of empty pots and patches of soil, well I could if you like :) We haven’t had as many pests this year, apart from the lily beetles and the slugs, but one of the advantages of growing in a raised bed is that the slugs don’t get up there, the snails do but they are easier to pick off.

      I have heard of the legendary southern green tomatoes but never tried them, so will definitely do that and let you know how they go, They sound wonderful, thanks for that Doc !

  3. Cas

    I wanted to add this to your Charles Dowling Blog but couldn’t work out how to add further comments there.

    Just to let you know your blog inspired me to sign up for last Wednesday’s course and it was wonderful, so many tips and hints! I am now redesigning the layout of my polytunnel and my veg beds are being covered in muck and cardboard to help beat the weeds. I have also bought his most recent book.

    I was very down about the really poor results in my garden this year and it has all helped me to get going again ready for next year and I even have some salad leaves going to get us through the winter.

    Thank you so much for your link and the inspiration it gave me.

    1. Joanna Post author

      That’s lovely to hear Cas! I am glad to be of use and I am a bit jealous that you did the course – I was reading the book the other night and thinking about compost and why mine is always a bit claggy. Seriously, great stuff! One day I will have a polytunnel – maybe when we move house in a few years time

  4. Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial

    Lovely post, dearheart! We have sowed turnip rooted parsley as well – oh I hope it grows! Last year’s batch simply disappeared, so we’ve raised seedlings this year. How nice to see your tomatoes, they’re retailing for $12/kg here at the moment, their highest price ever – makes me glad for the stockpile of roasted toms we have in the freezer! Not having to share figs is a good thing, and you’ve now got me thinking about putting a few pots of herbs in our bright hallway…hmm.. :)

    1. Joanna Post author

      Small pleasures and garden tomatoes are one of them. That is expensive! I don’t buy many tomatoes in the winter months, they are mostly grown in water in Holland and have very little taste. The root parsley sounds good doesn’t it? My packet says the root is something like a parsnip and is commonly eaten in Europe. Never heard of it before this year when I was recommended the real seed co by Carl Legge. One finds out lots of useful and interesting things on the smaller seed company sites. Send supportive thoughts to my fennel, the ones I put in the ground have been eaten by snails, but I still have a few in pots to pot out when they are a bit bigger xx

  5. Misky

    I’m going to keep my eye on your chili plant. I’m very interested in knowing if you can keep it ticking over on the windowsill. Lovely post, Joanna. I love this time of the year.

    1. Joanna Post author

      I have kept chilli plants going before through the winter, but they tend to succumb to green or white fly for some reason indoors. You have to keep taking the ripe ones off if you want to encourage them to flower again. Yesterday I would have said I loved this time of year, but today after 9 hours of rain. Ah well, it’s all good, gentle rain, washes the streets :)

      1. Misky

        I’m going to try growing chilli plants this winter. I’m encouraged now.

        Our builders had to quit laying brick today because the rain was falling too heavily. Heck. Heck. New garage door arrives on Tuesday, so I hope our brickie is finished.

  6. Abby

    *sigh* I just love reading about your garden adventures (& Celia’s, too). Just makes me wish I had the patience and the know-how. Or that I lived close enough to share. ;)

    1. Joanna Post author

      That’s really sweet of you Abby – there is a huge gap between what I ‘know’ and what I actually do in our little garden. Brian was giving me remedial potting up lessons the other day as my seedlings never ended up centred in the pot. He is a very good teacher. His parents had a market garden when he was little and he always says he hates anything to do with the garden, but he is much better at it than me.

  7. Ann

    I’m not a particularly keen gardener (though I do like my pots of herbs) but I love the photo of Zeb foraging. And I adore his silhouette in the header – there must have been something very interesting in those reeds!

    1. Joanna Post author

      Zeb and Lulu do slow proceedings down considerably if they are out there. We were picking some of the apples and everytime one fell on the ground, they rushed in and grabbed them and ran off with them to play. If I am kneeling and weeding then Zeb is literally by my elbow trying to see if I find anything interesting in the ground

  8. Jan

    Lovely post Joanna. This and Celia’s garden posts fill me with enthusiasm for the possibilities of our garden. Your figs look beautiful. Many years ago (nearly forty) when Peter and I lived in England, our elderly next door neighbour placed a perfect bunch of grapes through an open window onto our white windowsill so that they were there when we came home. They still had that frosty looking bloom on them, they were the same dark shade as your figs, and I’ve never forgotten how beautiful they looked against the white of the sill. Not something you can get by going to the green grocers is it.

    1. Joanna Post author

      Sometimes it is just so nice to be outside, growing bits and pieces to eat is always a pleasure, I don’t know if I could manage on a bigger scale but one can dream. Those beautiful grapes sound like a really perfect memory, that yeasty bloom is quite something. I have an ornamental vine but it produces little grapes only occasionally and the blackbirds eat them and there is a predictably horrible mess afterwards. (one can “go off” birds)

  9. Le Petit Potager

    Joanna doesn’t your garden look beautiful with all its wonderful bounty! Those beans are fantastic……..I was thinking of you earlier today when I noticed the white Adriatic fig is producing a breba crop this year.

    1. Joanna Post author

      Ooh is a breba crop a second crop? mine always try, so sad, but they never ripen and I compost them. Thanks for reading :)

      1. Le Petit Potager

        Hi Joanna, the Breba crop is the early summer one, usually very light; followed by the full onslaught of the autumn crop……….I usually get to eat some of this crop before the fig birds invade.

  10. hotlyspiced

    I love seeing what’s going on in your garden. Such variety! I hope you have more sunshine hours than what’s predicted. Great you haven’t had blight this year xx

    1. Joanna Post author

      We try to grow different things each year so that the soil gets a change, though we do top up with compost, a bit of home made and some bought. If I was doing the garden again I would have more space for growing veggies :)

  11. bakecakecrumbs

    I love seeing what you have grown this year. It puts me to shame, because my garden is literally wild and rampant this year. I shall have to vow to try and keep on top of it better next year. I like to think I’m doing the wildlife a favour though – there are plenty of little birds on the dying/seeding weeds so there’s obviously something good to eat on there!

    1. Joanna Post author

      I love wild and rampant gardens, though I find that sometimes one or two plants will turn into bullies, there is a Virginia Creeper in the back lane that climbs in and tries to strangle everything on the back fence which we attack from time to time. The wildlife will love your garden, we don’t clear everything by any means as we llke to leave cover for the toads and frogs on the ground. If you have little birds that is a good sign that you have a happy space :)

  12. heidiannie

    Your garden is so lovely and abundant, Joanna!
    I would be envious if I had put much effort into ours. I planted, quite seriously, and did some weeding, but then I started going away for weeks at a time and the garden suffered. And some furry thing ate the heart out of my cauliflower and brussel sprouts so I just started collecting rather than gardening.
    Love those figs- so beautiful!

    1. Joanna Post author

      I was away for weeks too up until mid summer, Brian has done bits and pieces, but it’s all a bit piecemeal. Our beds are very crowded with perennials so don’t have much room for weeds, we grow very few annual flowers and use little bedding, so we sort of get away with it. Actually we don’t, there are lots of weeds, I just pretend not to see them and then act surprised when I find rosebay willowherb in flower and creeping wotsit and so on. I have lots of self sown primulas this year and forget me nots and little violets. And mysterious shoots coming up near bases of trees which I think are either reverting root stocks or something the squirrels have buried…. The fig tree may have to be moved too, it is very near the house. Sorry to hear about the furries eating your veg, naughty naughty :(

  13. ceciliag

    You have a wonderful garden Joanna, so lush and vibrant still.. I especially loved your windowsill plants, I adore having basil so close i should have put some into pots for my window sill.. ah well.. maybe i will remember next year.. c

    1. Joanna Post author

      Living in the city it is fairly easy to buy herbs in pots, either for sale in the supermarket or in the garden centres. Those are the ones I have used here. I think I bought the basil to make some pesto, then didn’t and they were so thirsty that we repotted them and they have doubled in size.

    1. Joanna Post author

      Thanks! After all that baking, did I see 700 pieces by 2 people on your Sunday tweet? I hope it all flew away with happy bread eaters :)

  14. cityhippyfarmgirl

    Joanna is that basil that you’ve repotted? I try and try growing basil here in a pot and it’s never happy. It’s such a lovely plant to be able to pluck a few leaves from… if I could grow them that is.
    Now your kimchi I’m interested in. Will you do a post on it? I’ve been thinking about giving it a crack lately and need a good prod to get me going.

    1. Joanna Post author

      Yes, that’s basil, from smaller plants from the supermarket. I have grown Greek basil from seed, much smaller leaf and that worked quite well, but never managed this big leafed sort. Do you get ready grown small plants in the supermarkets like here? They are very popular, coriander, parsley, sometimes tarragon, usually chives. They are always a bit tall and leggy but respond well to being repotted. Worth a go.

      I am not sure that I am the person to do a kimchi post, I have literally only made the one pot and our jury is out on whether we like it or whether it is just way too strong for us :)

  15. Barbara Bamber | justasmidgen

    Once again I am going to have to say I am green with garden envy!! My indoor basil never lasts long.. is it necessary to break off the leaves often to keep it thriving and should I break off the ones at the bottom or top?? Lovely things grow in your garden!!

    1. Joanna Post author

      I don’t know how long it will last – needs heat, poss moisture in atmosphere too? If I pick from the top the stem divides and makes 2 side shoots but sometimes I take out just one whole stem. This variety, seems very vigorous!

  16. Anne MC

    Beautiful pictures and I am very envious of your figs ! Here in Staffordshire, the only things which grew in my garden this summer are tomatoes and I won’t even have green tomatoes to make green tomato jam as they all have ripen nicely. Now I will have to wait until next year to try Doc’s fried green tomatoes …Lettuces, courgettes, were all eaten by snails and slugs. I too am growing angelica ! I was depressed last week-end when I went for a walk in my surrounding woods and fields : not a single sloe berry, not a single hazelnut, not a single apple, crab apple, a consequence of our wet and cold april-june and summer : I could only find elderberries which I have already turned into jam. oh and green fig jam as well because none of the figs will even ripen now…
    Enjoy the garden.

    1. Joanna Post author

      I am definitely going to try those green tomatoes, though I still have a few outside trying to ripen. Sorry to hear the slugs and snails have eaten your veggies, they have had it far too easy this year. Ooh angelica! We will have to compare notes next year, have you grown it before, it is new to me. I looked for sloes yesterday in my secret place and I couldn’t see any, nor in several other spots, so I hope that next year is better for us happy wanderers. I worry a little that so many small businesses have started up using foraged berries and plants, made popular by River Cottage and the like, and in these economic conditions people turn to all sorts of ways to make a living, I can’t blame them, but I wonder if the environment can sustain hundreds of small foraging based businesses? x Jo

  17. Elaine

    How inspirational – love the pictures, such a far cry from our very small vegetable plot which looks very overgrown due to lack of time spent on it and also very wet and sorry for itself due to the heavy downpours which seem to go on and on. Lovely and sunny here at the moment though – hope this continues until the weekend when we should be able to get out.

    1. Joanna Post author

      Pictures are selective, you’ve seen our garden – it’s sunny again today and I was hacking back a bit of the shrubbery and trying to dig up dandelions in the front, which are everywhere as are the ornamental nuisance grasses that self sow for ever more. They look lovely but their seeds and fluff get everywhere. Stipa tenuissima are you listening to me? Looking forward to meeting up soon :)

  18. Francis Labrune

    I would be very interested in getting an enlargement of one of your pictures published on 19/01/2012, described as “Westminter Lodge, Badmington through trees”, (P1030128_2.jpg). This would be for non-commercial use. Would either a print or a high resolution digital file be available for purchase?
    Your reply would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Joanna Post author

      I think you mean Worcester Lodge? Would you mind telling me what you want it for? People don’t ususally ask me for photos unless they want to use them for something :)

      1. Francis Labrune

        I did mean Worcester Lodge. Thanks for correcting me and I do feel kind of embarrassed for making such a mistake in the first place. My wife has been looking for a photo of tall trees for months and months. The photo would go in our bedroom. We’ve been trying to take photos of tall trees when going on hikes on weekends, but none would ever match her expecations. I’ve been taking photos of tall trees as well when going on longer hikes by myself, but without success either. Then she came across this wonderful Worcester Lodge photo on your blog and really liked it. And she really would like to be able to have an enlarged copy in our bedroom where we would be both be able to enjoy it day after day for months and months. So that’s how we would use your photo, And by the way I do envy you for your ability to take so many unique and wonderful photos and post them on your blog.
        Francis Labrune

        1. Joanna Post author

          Hi Francis, to be honest I wasn’t quite sure if you were some very very clever spam comment, there are all sorts that appear in the moderation queue! but you sound very real and of course you may have a copy of the photo. I hope it meets your expectations. I am very flattered by your sweet comment and I will email you with it :) kind regards, Joanna

          PS I just had a look and I have a second shot I took that day in landscape where the trees are better lit. I didn’t take loads as I had leapt out of the car and was standing on a very busy road. I will send you both anyway via the large file sending thing so keep an eye on your inbox.

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