Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Winter stores

There is good news and bad harvest news this year in Little Melton. The good news is that growing conditions were generally good and that those with enough water butts to have seen them through the dry patches have good stores of potatoes and carrots.

The bad news is that the Leek Moth has arrived. Up to now, I always thought that Leeks were indestructible and could be relied upon to feed us from October to March – though some members of the family have mutinied in the depths of winter at the sight of yet another leek in cheese sauce.

However it seems that the Leek Moth is flying up from the south, presumably as a result of warmer conditions -though apparently it was undeterred by last year’s cold winter. So it looks like leeks are going to have to join the carrots under the protection of Environmesh. There is something of an irony in gardening organically but being dependent on plastic mesh to keep the crops alive!

Not being fond of spending time in the kitchen, I am concentrating on extending the availability of fresh foods and this year extended the tomato season by growing some both inside and outside the greenhouse. When the indoor tomatoes were over I moved the outdoor ones inside (with assistance!) and they are still cropping well.

My vegetable collaborator Jane introduced me to some squash seeds and Borlotti bean seeds and the harvests from these are all waiting for colder weather to be eaten – the Jumbo Pink Banana squash (pictured nestling amongst the potato sacks) should feed at least 10!

Other plans to extend the veg season include winter salad and winter onions which I’m growing for the first time this year.

One way to deal with excess apple crops is to arrange a communal pressing and then sell the juice to raise funds for village projects – the picture shows bottles produced in aid of the Little Melton church building repairs. Generally it has been an excellent year in the garden and we have been largely self-sufficient in fruit and veg since mid May when the first potatoes and carrots grown in movable pots were ready and the cucumbers started a record year that has kept half the village supplied.


  1. John, is it a photographic trick of the light or is that beetroot in the first picture really that BIG?

  2. The beetroot is huge. It is a stripey type and not as popular as the normal dark type - so it keeps getting passed over and will be too big for any saucepan soon!

    Any one want an organic, giant stripey beetroot???

  3. I've had success with a different approach of extending the tomato season. When the bottom tomatoes in the greenhouse were ripe, I allowed some of the armpits at the bottom to grow, and those have then produced new tomatoes, and are still cropping.

  4. Yes please John, 1) If it hasn't been snapped up already and 2) if it will keep until we see each other next...

  5. We've had leek moth on the Bluebell Allotments site in Norwich for at least ten years. It's worse in hot summers and in 2003 we lost about half our (uncovered) leeks, so now use Enviromesh. If your leeks get attacked you can cut down the tops (no later than August) and they should regrow from the base without leek moth damage.