Having survived the tail end of one hurricane this week, now it's time to prepare for the next one, which is due to arrive on Sunday night. The plum tree survived this week's storm quite well, mainly because all the weak branches had already broken in the atrocious weather earlier in the year. But with very high winds expected, it was time today to remove the last of the fruit; I did a picking 10 days ago which mostly went into jam.
My tomatoes are slowly, very slowly, ripening. Watching Gardeners' World last night, Monty Don suggested taking the leaves off the plants to bring on ripening. I though this was a good idea, so I set about it today. If you're wondering what the cloche frame is made of, it's plumber's tubing, very good and sold at all DIY stores. Add some plastic to the top, and it does a great job in protecting plants.
I'm glad I did this because as I dug among the leaves, I came across a bit of rot, and also a bit of blight. At this stage, it's not too bad and by removing the leaves I hope I've nipped it in the bud. The damp weather has created ideal conditions for diseases.
And here are the plants after their haircut! Rather denuded, but there will be more air around them and I also threw a few windfall apples underneath to encourage the tomatoes to ripen. The cloche has now been firmly closed in advance of the storm.
While I was working on the tomatoes, I disturbed this frog which was hunting slugs among the plants. I hope it will go back, as the slugs have eaten some of the tomatoes.
It was also time to remove the Worcester Pearmain apples, they started falling off this week with the weather, so they've all been picked now to prevent more damage. I finished picking the Katy apples yesterday. The remaining two apple trees are not at a stage where the fruit is ripe enough yet, so I've left those on and made sure the trees are secure.
Here's a selection of veg for today; the last peas of the year, the first runner beans at the bottom, a few tomatoes, my precious first ever cucumber and three french beans. I bought a climbing french bean plant earlier in the year as an experiment. Not sure £1.75 is a good price for 3 beans, one with a slug hole in it? The snails loved it, though since I prefer to feed myself instead of the snails, I don't think I'll grow any of these plants next year!
And a note for those reading this in northwest England; I hear that Lancashire County Council has bought extra salt this year and is expecting snow to fall in November. This tallies with my perception that autumn is 3-4 weeks early, we don't normally get this kind of weather until October. So I'll be trying, between the downpours, to get out and get as much work done as possible before the winter weather closes in.