Autumn Wins & Losses

Robin resting on the Strawberry pot. Late October 2021.
Corn wasn’t a winning crop this year.

There’s no denying that autumn has arrived. There’s a damp chill in the air, even when the sun shines.

It’s been a rather damp end to the summer. Gone are the days when I used to muse that London’s microclimate was one of virtual drought. It was a wet end to the summer, and it’s been a wet start of autumn – even if the temperatures have remained fairly warm and still in the main in double digits.

We have had some wins and some losses with harvests and crops.

In mid-October Malink was devestated by the complete ruination of his beloved popcorn crops. Huge disappointment. All, down to the last ear, destroyed. Beaten to the ground and eaten to a nub. And we’d already researched how to harvest and dry the corn in preparation of the first trial ‘PoP’!

As usual, a planting of three or four runner bean plants provided more than plenty of beans. We were sharing them out with the woodlands volunteers, but eventually we let the beans get too long and tough on the vine – which led to a slowing of the beans. We just pulled the plants out of the ground this week, but in truth we’ve not harvested any beans for at least a month.

Scene of the Popcorn Crime

I had thought to suggest we harvest them earlier but in truth we weren’t entirely sure they were fully ripened and ready to pick. The fluff wasn’t going brown yet, so we left them. But it’s certain that the animals know when things are good to eat!

We’re not completely certain who the popcorn ravaging culprit might have been. Was it the huge feral wood pigeons? The ones that gorge in summer on ripe figs…

Or was it a squirrel – jumping and pushing the cornstalk over so as to better nibble and devour the sweet tender corn?

Whomever it may have been, they did a thorough job of it – and not a single ear of corn was spared. Not one single ear of corn, after a summer of tender coddling of plants, of attentive watering and words of praise and affection.

Thankfully the tomatoes have done better.

Ok, admittedly we lost over half our tomato plants when blight struck in summer, but the blight resistant plants did well.

(Go figure! I might have been sceptical about the extent to which ‘blight resistant’ would be effective, but it seems well worth the trouble – we will be looking out for blight resistant tomatoes and also courgettes in future.)

So from our blight resistant tomato vines we have had punnet after punnet of gorgeous home grown tomatoes. Yum!

Red Rose Arbour (25 October 2021)

Some plants continue to push forth flowers and fruit. The red rose arbour continues to be in flower – an amazing feat of continuous flower production from spring to late autumn.

And the blackberry bushes – which I have trimmed and pruned dramatically – continue to set new growth, produce lovely white five-petalled flowers. The bees cotinue to buzz around and pollinate. And the pollinated white and pale pink petalled flowers set small nubby pale fruits ready to ripen, swell and sweeten in the low autumn sun.

Roses and blackberries are from the same root stock plant and are equally vigorous, hard working and hardy.

Raised bed by the flat, lungwort foliage coming up nicely, with purple campanula and yellow california poppy in flower (25 October 2021)

About smallPaws

A tumbleweed from Canada who's been living in London for twenty or so years.
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