Monday, November 17, 2008

Grey, Damp and Chilly

It's autumn. It's seriously autumn. The occasionally sunny day, but mostly grey, the air heavy with moisture, and nothing above 10° Celsius.

The strawberries are already under cover:

That's a double layer of fleece. Should see them through till spring.

Next door to the strawbs, the Florence fennel is going gangbusters:

Late-summer into autumn is the only time to grow Florence fennel around here. Spring-planted, it bolts as soon as the summer heat arrives.

Up on the second terrace, next year's garlic supply has not only been planted, it's already up:

The shortest day of the year - December 21st in these parts - is traditionally the garlic-planting date. I start earlier in order to give them a head start before the serious cold hits. I bought White Italian seed garlic from the local Agricolo or agricultural supplies store.

And, from experience, I selected and planted only the fattest, healthiest cloves. Growing garlic really is a case of harvesting what you sow. Plant skinny, shrivelled cloves and that's what you'll harvest.

Next door to the garlic, for the heck of it, I've established a test-planting of Savoy cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli:

It's a test because I didn't bother trying to grow anything - apart from garlic - over last autumn and winter. The fact is, the garden is south-facing and sees no sun at all after early October because the sun, low in the sky, never gets above the medieval wall that forms our back fence. Such is the price of a medieval back fence.

In the same experimental vein, I've planted an early variety of broad beans:

They will cope with the low temperatures, whether they'll cope with the lack of sun is a different matter. Thus far, fair enough. And, yes, I need to weed.

The English Spinach, next door to the broad beans, are equally in need of a weed:

Meanwhile, on the top terrace, L'Artista's penchant for black figs has been addressed:

I established this baby from cuttings taken from a friend's black fig tree earlier this year. I've also planted it in what amounts to a bottomless box - the roots contained on four sides by large tiles buried on their edge. The theory goes that containing a fig's roots produces a more compact tree and superior fruit production. We shall see.

It, along with its mates, spent its first couple of months on the terrace in pots of barely moist potting mix, out of the hot sun, partly enclosed in a plastic shopping bag to create a sympathetic, slighty humid growing environment.

Eventually, with root structures developed, the plastic bags came off and the babies were left to develop:

The one on the left is the one I've planted. Of the other two, one is for a friend's garden and the third is a spare.

Roll on the black figs.

And roll on spring!


Anonymous said...

Here in tropical Mackay, the Lollo Rosso lettuce have run to seed (I'm saving that)and the tomatoes have keeled over in the humidity.Basil and Italian parsley continue vigourously. Thank God!(You are right with the fig roots.)

Scintilla said...

Do you get frost or snow ? I've always been afraid to plant broad beans in winter in Luxembourg although in our garden in the south of Italy that's the only time you can plant them.

Stewart said...

Thanks for the tour of your garden it all looks very healthy and thanks for the tip on garlic too.

The Gardener said...

Moreidlethoughts - lettuce bolts here in summer, too. I usually erect some shade cloth over them. It's ironic that lettuces, the classic summer item, don't like extended exposure to hot sun.

In autumn and winter, though, I can grow the full range of cicorie, something I could never do in Sydney because it was never cool enough. Ditto cavolo nero.

Scintilla - here in town we usually get only very light frosts and smatterings of snow. I think the absence of any sun at all will thart the BBs. Curse that medieval wall!

I don't know what autumn and winter is like in Luxembourg, but you could try planting an early variety in late September, early October.

Stewart - no problems. Happy garlic growing!