Endings and beginnings.

The end of the growing season seems to be extending later than I’ve ever known; after a few cool spells we have had pretty mild conditions. I still have ripe raspberries, I even have ripe outdoor  tomatoes here in Scotland in mid November. In previous years I’ve known tomatoes to freeze solid in mid October. Lots of the chillies are still ripening including an accidental cross which has produced lots of attractive hot yellow pods. I saved seeds from a typical red podded piri-piri chilli plant a couple of years ago, but the plant which grew from that seed last year was a bit off type, and seed saved from that plant has now produced pods completely the wrong colour.

But it is a great grower with bigger pods than its Grandma, so I made a batch of piri-piri sauce which was excellent on chicken wings. I expect the original true Portuguese piri-piri plant crossed with some yellow podded chilli in the greenhouse such as Bulgarian Carrot. I like the very erect tall habit of the new plant, which comes from the piri-piri genes, and the big pod is much easier to de-seed than the little piri-piri ones. It will be interesting to see how the next generation turns out.

Talking of chilli seed, I did a little viability test of some saved seed, mainly to check the quality of the seed, some of which was rather old, but with an idea that I might get a few plants established extra early. I put a few seeds  into folded moist paper towel, in a plastic container in the airing cupboard. After just four days the Nigel’s Outdoors chilli seeds are the first to germinate. As they have proved so keen to get growing, and they are usually about my earliest to ripen, I will get them into soil and hope for super precocious ripe pods.Thinking ahead to next year spurred me to do some Autumn planting of bulbs. After clearing most of the greenhouse plants out I planted up some of the bigger vacated pots with tulips and muscari (grape hyacinth), I look forward to these providing a bit of Spring colour.

Also, a lot of garlic cloves and shallot bulbs have been started in 1 litre Air-Pot propagation pots. Many people start these straight into the ground but I have had problems on the plot with rot over winter, so I will try starting in pots, and will move them under glass during wet spells. Eschalote Grise the prized French shallot has completely failed previously when outside through a Scottish winter, the good drainage in the pots should give these fickle French alliums a better chance.

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