Jonathan: The last couple of days have been pretty windy, with a cyclonic storm rolling in from the mid-Atlantic. Today’s been quieter day with sunshine and showers and very mild, but tomorrow we’ll be under the far side of the cyclone; and after that they’ll be two or three days of south-westerlies, gale to severe gale force (the rump of Hurricane Katia, which battered Virginia and New York a week ago). With a view to the greenhouses being safe rather than us sorry, this afternoon we pulled out from the store all the 6in x 1in x 8ft boardsand re-fixed them to the wooden ‘exoskeletons’ of the greenhouses (of my own devising, and much commented-on by visitors to the garden). We do this every autumn, usually just before the equinox and the storms that come with it. Thanks to Katia we’re a month early: the tomatoes are still in the greenhouse with fruit still to ripen! Tilly came out to help, of course, though as we seemed to be getting on just fine without her she went woffling round the garden, looking for things to stick her nose into: which is course what dogs were created to do. Back she comes with something in her mouth which she looks very excited about. Not a bone, not a stick, not a ball (she’s chewed up all the balls she had). Not a gooseberry – they’re long since gone, and not a broad bean or a pea pod either. And not a potato because we can see some red. Come on Tilly, just what is it you’ve got there?. Okay so you don’t want to show us, you just want us to know you’ve got something that’s all yours because you found it. Oh you do want to show us! Well, well, well, where did you get that apple? And off she goes to show us – under the sycamore trees and into the tiny clearing in the SW corner of the wall, where about eight years ago we – rather naively! – planted apple trees. On the floor are a few more bruised and mis-shapen apples like the one Tilly had; but lo – the tree is laden and the branches curved down with rosy apples! And nearby another tree also is laden with apples, rather more green than rosie it is true, but that’s how that variety is meant to be. We’ve had a few apples from these trees before, but nothing like this! Back from the potting shed with a basket, D set about bringing in the harvest: but first to check the quality. Mmm! crisp and juicy, sweet and scented! Absolutely delicious! So there we were taking a break from our labours, in the eye of the storm, eating apples from our own trees no more than thirty paces from the Atlantic!
Jonathan: Sunday brought the first gale since as long ago as May, and now there’s a lot of brown and shredded leaves on the trees. But the garden has been looking increasingly tired for some weeks now, and bare too, as we’ve cleared first the peas and then the broad beans (both the best crops since we came here). This week’s been a mixture of sunshine and showers – much as we might get at any time of year, but the easy-going weather, never too warm or too cold – just nice, the quality of the light, the scent of the soil are all heralds of Autumn. Even the roads are settling back into the natural quiet and calm we’re familiar with and love.
Denise: J has intermittently been working on making cold frames for growing strawberries, lettuces and other ‘short’ and more tender crops. The walls are made of his favourite building materials – 6in x 1in treated softwood joined with lengths of 2in x 2in. The tops are sheets of clear acrylic set in simple wooden frames. Nothing fancy it is true, but certainly functional! It’s difficult finding a balance between making something strong enough to take the battering from wind and rain, but on the other hand easy to use and cheap to make. The main problem with cold frames here is with the lids – the traditional way of hinging at the back and propping up at the front is just completely impracticable – far too windy!. Anyway, after years of struggling with this problem, J seems to have come up with a compromise so lets see how it works. Anyway, two cold frames are now finished, and I’ve planted these up with lettuces for now. Later they’ll be replaced with strawberry plants, as the fruit is always useful in making jams for sale (eg Gooseberry and Strawberry Preserve). There’s one more cold frame for J to build, making up a line of three replacing a ‘hedge’ of Rosa Rugosa, the roots of which were spreading into growing plots. So that’s a nuisance turned into a source of profit.