There is a distinct air of panic hanging around my greenhouses this weekend.
This is because I have been caught on the hop. Two weeks of double-digit temperatures in November lulled me into a false sense of security: it may have been raining, but global warming and all that – I expected another winter like the last one, when the first (half-hearted) frost didn’t arrive till February.
So I’ve been eyeing the deepening blues on the weather forecast with increasing alarm: and this Sunday there is an undeniable minus figure on the chart.
This has become highly unusual here in Somerset, and it’s sent me into a bit of a tailspin. I had already cleared out the tattered remains of the old crops, at least, although that was mainly so that I could plant the salads in place of this year’s tomatoes.
This morning saw me start the process of covering the borders with weed-suppressing membrane and lining the inside of the frost-free greenhouse with bubblewrap. A heater will go in here on Sunday, set to a couple of degrees above freezing. I’m kind of hoping I won’t need it for more than a few nights. And I’ll be spending my Sunday afternoon moving in the entire collection of scented-leaved geraniums, a couple of lemon verbenas, several Mexican sages, the prickly pear that’s been holidaying outside for the summer and a purple banana (I live in hope).
(In case you’re wondering why I’m not mentioning the monster tree chilli in the corner, by the way – that’s because there’s more on that tomorrow.)
There are potatoes in here – second-cropping ones, timed to be ready for Christmas. But I’m a bit worried about them: they’ve been growing like topsy lately but are showing definite signs of blight. No wonder: it’s been so damp lately I think I’m getting blight. I’ve trimmed off the worst and am now keeping my fingers crossed the disease will be slowed by cold.
The other greenhouse, meanwhile, is looking much more shipshape: I have planted out the lettuces and moved in my three-pot salad and coriander plots (read all about it in the bookywook next Easter folks!). I just cleared the latest pot so once the cold snap is over I’ll sow this with a winter mix.
All set for winter then: and looking like a good supply of leafy salads for us till spring. In here there are several kinds of lettuces, mibuna and chard; I have some mizuna in a container I’m wanting to move in here too as it’ll keep growing much longer under glass. And I’m expecting the coriander to keep leafy till it gets seriously cold: it’s miles easier to grow at this time of year as it’s not so inclined to bolt.
So we’re almost shipshape and ready to go: just got to figure out where that last sheet of bubblewrap has got to…