Balmy October

Mushrooms and beech leaves in the forest

I don’t think I have ever planted bulbs in autumn and got too hot doing it. But I did this week. It was 23 degrees C in my area of Brussels on 28 October, breaking meteorological records. As I popped tulips, alliums and iris into the ground and pots, I wondered what the future hold for them. Bulbs benefit from cold winters, so what happens if we don’t get cold winters anymore? Hard to imagine spring without drifts of tulips and daffodils.

The asters are making an incredible display this year. Most are divisions from a single plant I bought at a garden fair a few years back, and I gave some clumps to participants of my workshops. Here is one in the garden of Miriam, just behind her cat.

Nice to know these pollinator-friendly plants are providing nectar for bees and pleasure to gardeners around Brussels and beyond!

Another plant that deserves a mention is this Penstemon which is growing just outside my gate, by the pavement. It was flagging in the drought this summer but has perked up now and the autumn light seems to enhance it .

Apart from the flowers, I’ve been enjoying autumn harvest from the allotment. This fresh broccoli really perked up a lazy pasta and sauce out of a jar supper.

And I am watching the Brussel sprouts appear with much anticipation. They look adorable, like doll’s house cabbages.

Winter salads have also been good this season. A batch of Asiatic leaves sown in situ in early September is thriving, and the Escarole is looking healthy too.

So I have been able to make lovely fresh salads from my own produce for the first time into autumn. Each one is a victory against a supermarket-bought lorry-transported soggy plastic bag mixed salad that is already starting to decay before you open it!

Allotment-grown (except for the avocado!)

My two Thai dragon chilli plants in the greenhouse are still producing. Am going to try overwintering them this year. I like the level of heat and the look of these, perfect for Thai curry.

The allotment is a peaceful haven of green, here’s the view as I walk through.

Allotments at dusk

By the way, Six on Saturday has a new host, Jim at Garden Ruminations has been handed the baton by The Propagator. Many thanks to both for bringing gardeners together in this format.

20 thoughts on “Balmy October

  1. We have also planted flower bulbs here on our balcony (in pots). We had specially waited until the end of October. It now seems like summer outside…. So here too we wait to see what comes of it.
    Your flower and vegetable garden still looks beautiful and what a rich harvest!
    Climate change is clearly present, who still denies it….
    It is beneficial for one thing, that is for the heating costs 😉 Have a nice weekend Sel and many greetings.

  2. Penstemons are worth it this year! They are gorgeous . I saw that you also have very beautiful Brussels sprouts. Mine are much smaller so far, but we’ll see. Autumn is really weird with mild temperatures and indeed gardening is a pleasure. We don’t have cold hands!…

  3. Our autumn gardening has been a unique and hot experience too. However, we are still painfully short of rain. The rain persists in falling to the east, north or south of us. It is very frustrating. Amelia

  4. I wonder if I sow salad seeds now they will germinate? The last lot I tried bolted as soon as they appeared, but I agree with you about the bags of salad leaves. As for bulbs, some of mine left in pots from this spring are already sending up shoots!

    1. Yes mine too I noticed, I keep willing them to slow down! I was told if I wanted more salad greens I must sow by early October but the new weather means the rule book no longer applies? Give it a go? A greenhouse or cloche might help speed things up. Would love to be like Monty and eat my own salads all winter but not sure my planning is up to it!

  5. Gosh, you’ve done well with your allotment produce. Who knew sprouts could be so exciting?! Lots of lovely colour in your garden too. Funnily enough I’ve just made an all in one oven bake sweet potato Thai curry and have just fished out the chillis – I’m a bit concerned I may have put too many in. Hopefully the lime juice will take the edge off.

      1. The book is sat on the shelf next to me. Bear with… The recipe is for 2 (although we doubled it to have it again in a few days):

        750g sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1cm slices
        1 stick of lemon grass, broken
        5cm ginger grated
        2 cloves of garlic grated (we mince it)
        1 large red chilli halved lengthways (I removed the seeds)
        1 x 400ml tin of coconut milk, stirred
        500ml hot vegetable stock
        2 packets of fine straight-to-wok cooked noodles
        Juice of 1 lime
        Coriander to garnish (not in this house)

        Preheat the over to 180oC fan/200oc/Gas 6)

        Place all of the ingredients (apart from the noodles) into a deep baking dish or casserole dish (if you double everything you may need to divide everything into 2 casserole dishes – we did) and plonk in the oven for 45 minutes.

        Check the potatoes are soft, then remove from oven and add the noodles, submerging them in the liquid (there’s a lot of liquid). Leave to sit for 5 minutes, then stir in the lime juice.

        It’s from Rukmini Iyer’s ‘The Green Roasting Tin.’ She warns you to stand well back from the oven door when opening it as it generates a lot of steam in 45 minutes.

        It was our first time making it and it was delicious, although we may cut back a little on the chilli next time!) It’s a thin sauce so you may need bowls and spoons!

      2. Fantastic, thank you, that sounds really good and perfect for dark & possibly eventually cold autumn evenings (I will check out The Green Roasting Tin too).

  6. What colourful, tasty-looking garden produce! Although the caterpillars have had a go, they have left you enough Brussels sprouts to enjoy……maybe at Christmas? My penstemons continue to flower like yours.

  7. What a lovely crop from your allotment plants. So rewarding. Mild again here today but colder weather coming and I have not started planting out tulips yet. Still time though.

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