The potting shed is finished. I’ve painted it, put the gutters up, and connected a couple of water butts. I have also commissioned it by pricking out my physallis seedlings into two 12 module trays which I have placed on the bedroom windowsill for a couple of days before putting them into the heated greenhouse at home.

I feel I should give the shed a name rather than keep calling it “it”. So I’ve given it some thought as to who has given me musical pleasure in my life. My son is Miles so that’s out. My eldest daughter I wanted to name Billie (after Billie Holiday, not Piper) but I was over ruled. But Billie doesn’t seem right for a shed. Our dog is Strummer so that would be too confusing. Bruce Springsteen, Little Richard, John Coltrane, Judy Garland, Leonard Cohen, Pete Seeger don’t ring true. Ian Dury and the Blockheads sounds closer – so the shed is officially named The Blockhead. I’ll get a sign made.

Anyway, back to physallis. After my previous blog, insisted that the physallis is called incaberries. Jeni told me they were physallis similar to Chinese Lanterns. So I googled incaberries and sure enough Brodie is correct, but so is Jeni. What’s in a name, some say eether and some say ither.

Interestingly, James Wong says that in Victorian times incaberries were a common outdoor crop all over the uk, under the name Tipparees. Mrs Beeton even made jam out of them. James Wong also advises that he leaves his plants outdoors over winter, cutting the plants back to ground level when the frost gets to the foliage and giving them a good mulch. Well, that’s what I’ll do then.

This really has been a wet autumn, hampering putting the beds to sleep. As I’ve said before, apart from the first year of bed preparation, I don’t dig after that, but clear the ground of all weeds and rotovate the top 4 inches or so. But it does need to be drier than it has been, so I’ve still got a few beds to complete.

The exception to my no digging rule is that for crops such as onions, beans, celery, and sweet peas, I have always dug a trench a spade deep and two spades width, put a good layer of manure in the trench, and then back filled with soil. They can look like elephant graves but gradually subside over winter. But this year, what with the weather and the time taken building Blockhead, I haven’t been able to dig the trenches. Which leaves me with a bit of a dilemma as to what to do. The options are to wait until the ground gets dryer, rotavate manure into the top few inches, or not bother. At present the soil is too wet, so I don’t have to make a decision. I’ll see.

I would always recommend getting a rotovator. I know they’re not cheap but they can be picked up second hand, or is it pre-loved these days, on e-bay or locally. I have a Mantis which I really couldn’t do without. Having previously called it a rotovator, technically it’s a tiller – Brodie is a stickler for clarifying the difference.

Vegetables from the plot are still keeping us going at home. Presently, I still have tomatoes, carrots, and chillies in the pollytunnel – the tomatoes I’m now picking the 12th truss. In the greenhouse I’m still picking some grapes, plus pulling up sweet potatoes from they’re pots. Similarly, I’m pulling potatoes from their pots outside. On the plots I have beetroot, parsnips, perpetual spinach, swedes, celery, sprouts, kale, cauliflowers, and leeks. Plus the stored onions, shallots, garlic, butternut and pumpkin. These should all keep us going well into the new year.

But it does provide a conundrum as to how to cook them all. I’ve try roasting, stir frying, mashing, plus putting them in stews, tarts, pies, risotto, etc, etc. Decisions, decisions. Happy cooking.

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