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About 10 years ago, the gardening magazines were busy telling us how to ‘drought-proof’ our gardens in the face of a warming planet. Now we’re being advised on how to cope with extremes of weather during the gardening year. And this year has been all about extremes. The wettest winter since 1766, the driest September since records began, and a summer that veered from the hot, dry days of July to a near winter-like cool and damp in August.

Bumblebee on comos

So where does that leave the garden now that autumn’s here and it’s time for another Garden Share Collective?

TheGardenShareCollective300pix

Winners in the year of extremes have been the flowers – the sweet peas are still producing enough blooms for a couple of bunches each week. Not bad for the beginning of October. The cosmos and dahlias, which usually take over as the sweet peas fade, are also flowering their heads off – much appreciated by the bees that are still out and about on autumn afternoons.

The courgette plants are also still producing. And then there’s this –

Marrow

The label says it’s a squash, ‘Anna Swartz’ to be precise. The photos on the seed company website show a smallish, roundish, green squash. I should have put something in the photo to give you an idea of scale – this squash is almost the size of a small child. We picked one to see what it was like… a lot like marrow as it turned out. There are still two more on the plants. Should I leave them to ripen? Will they become more squash-like given a bit more time, do you think?

Oca flower

More positive are the oca and mashua – new to the garden this year thanks to my seedy penpal. Well, I say more positive, but there’s no knowing how successful they’ve been until we dig them up later in the year. But they’re looking well, lots of leafy growth and a few flowers on the oca.

Basil

While the summer lettuce and basil harvests are coming to an end, I’m busy clearing space for planting garlic in the next few weeks. The dry weather in early summer proved perfect conditions for rust to spread across all my garlic plants. At the time I didn’t realise that I should have been watering the plants to help prevent this.  But now that I’ve read Urvashi’s post on garlic growing, I’ll be ready if the same thing happens to the next crop.

Over the last week I’ve been planting up containers in the greenhouse with herb and salad seedlings… trying to stretch out the fresh leaf harvest season as long as possible. Parsley does well in a cold greenhouse and produces leaves earlier in spring than the outdoor plants. Coriander and chervil will often keep going through, at least some of, the cold months with a bit of protection. Writing this reminds me that I need to pot up some mint and chives to keep under glass for early herbs next spring…

Finally, here’s a photo of an attempt at some creative and artistic vegetable growing. Red and golden beetroot seeds sown alternately in a row. It’s not going to win any prizes, but I quite liked the colours in the morning sun.

Beetroot 2

And, of course, don’t forget to make a visit to Lizzie’s blog and catch up with the latest from veggie gardens around the world.

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