October 2010

Full details of weekly harvests at bottom of page

Week 26:   October 23 – 29

Total for week = £22.03 /1.84kg

The winter crops have flourished in the mild autumn weather. So have the pests. Pigeons are munching the black cabbage, leaf miner are burrowing into the chard, slugs are chomping at the pak choi and the squirrels are digging up the pea and broad bean seeds. Rascals, all of them.

Pigeon munched black cabbage
Leaf miner burrowing into chard
Pak choi munched by slugs

It’s the end of an era – almost – for the tomatoes. More plants were cleared out and a mix of orange and green tomatoes put to ripen in a bag with some bananas. This old trick is working and all but two have turned red so far. Just two more plants to take down now (and very few tomatoes).

Some of the last tomatoes - how we'll miss them!

Week 25:   October 16 – 22

Total for week = £31.64 /3.16kg

With the first frost predicted in London this week, I picked  the few remaining green and red chillies (see pic). If you like chillies, it’s worth growing your own – freshly picked, they add a zest and a sparkle that’s rare in a shop bought chilli.


The last few red and green chillies © Vertical Veg 2010

Meanwhile, the purple chilli lives on – this pot is small enough to bring inside for winter. Chillies are pernnial so if you can protect them from frost, you should get another crop next year.

Another highlight this week was a large Chinese cabbage. The first time I’ve grown these and they’re impressive. It grew to over half a pound in just a few weeks and is succulent and crunchy, with a clean taste, reminiscent to Pak Choi.

The last of the climbing French beans were picked (small weep), and the plants cleared out, and replaced with cavelo nero seedlings for winter.

Week 24:   October 9 – 15

Total for week = £34.72 /3.44kg

More work getting ready for winter. Cleared out the basil from the front window box, made a batch of pesto, and replanted the box with Japanese salad types – red giant and tatsoi. Put protection back on some of the  balcony boxes, ready for the first frosts and northerly winds – see images below.

Tomatoes are still boosting the weekly yields (the final few will be picked next week). After that I’m expecting yields to fall considerably, while still hoping to keep harvesting salads well into winter.

Really noticing the declining light levels on the balcony (north facing) – with about an hour’s sun a day, growth is slowing significantly.

Perspex lid - reclaimed from skip - provides protection for winter salads: winter purslane, sorrel, lambs lettuce, winter lettuce © Vertical Veg 2010
Simple cloche made from a hula hoop and waste plastic
DIY cloche - made from hula hoop and discarded plastic sheeting © Vertical Veg 2010


Week 23:   October 2 – 8

Total for week = £38.2 /3.13kg

Still loving all the fresh tomatoes – we’ve had tomato curry, tomato soup, tomato salsa, tomato salad, and many variations on tomato pasta sauce in the last couple of weeks. And we could still eat more tomatoes  What will do when they finish?

Harvested the lemon grass this week. The 2 stalks planted had multiplied to 18, weighing 290 grammes in total. The aroma is amazing – fresh and pungent and delicious. The leaves can also be used to make an aromatic tea – with a kick.

Lemon grass grown from supermarket herb packet - about 4 weeks before harvest © Vertical Veg 2010

Just as I was on the verge of looking out for new green tomato recipes…  we are blessed with wonderful, warm autumn sun.  Hurrah –  the last few handfuls of large tomatoes are beginning to turn rosy as I write:-


Tomatoes (Costoluto Genovese) ripening in autumnal sun © Vertical Veg 2010

Harvest Details for October 2010

Week 23:   October 2 – 8

Sunday: 95g aubergine, 15g Vietnamese coriander, 289g runner beans, 202g courgette, 28g stir fry, 30g sunflower shoots, 89g salad.
Monday: 419g cherry tomatoes, 294g salad, 175g French beans, 23g basil, 54g sunflower shoots, 76g cherry tomatoes.
Tuesday: 105g broad bean and sunflower sprouts, 290g lemon grass, 308g large tomatoes, 115g runner beans, 21g chives, 5g tarragon.
Wednesday: 236g cherry tomatoes
Thursday: 306g cherry tomatoes, 63g chocolate pepper, 91g salad
Friday: 194g cherry tomatoes, 29g sage

Total for week = 3.13kg; value = £38.20
Total since 1 May = 66.27 kg; total value = £669.58

Week 24:   October 9 – 15

Saturday: 60g basil, 44g Thai basil, 263g salad, 22g green coriander seeds, 79g stir fry greens, 7g mint, 459g cherry tomatoes, 93g large tomatoes, 745g runner beans, 88g French beans, 13g chillies.
Monday: 100g French beans, 629g cherry tomatoes.
Tuesday: 75g large tomatoes, 59g French beans.
Wednesday: 10g savory.
Thursday: 46g pepper, 565g cherry tomatoes.
Friday: 59g salad.

Total for week = 3.44kg; value = £34.72
Total since 1 May = 69.7 kg; total value = £704.29

Week 25:   October 16 – 22

Saturday: 893g large tomatoes, 43g salad
Sunday: 8g mint
Monday: 6g thyme, 85g salad, 20g broad bean shoots, 261g French beans, 553g large tomatoes, 434g cherry tomatoes.
Thursday: 47g salad, 4g sage
Friday: 87g salad, 337g Chinese cabbage, 37g chillies, 7g Vietnamese coriander, 11g parsley, 325g cherry tomatoes.

Total for week = 3.16kg; value = £31.64
Total since 1 May = 72.87 kg; total value = £735.94

Week 26:   October 23 – 29

Saturday: 1447g large tomatoes, 115g baby tomatoes
Sunday: 5g thyme, 9g Vietnamese coriander, 7g parsley.
Tuesday: 26g salad leaves, 25g broad bean shoots
Wednesday: 66g salad, 26g broad bean shoots, 9g thyme.
Thursday: 62g sorrel, 18g pernnial basil
Friday: 9g chives, 16 parsley.

Total for week = 1.84kg; value = £22.03
Total since 1 May = 74.7 kg; total value = £757.97

10 thoughts on “October 2010”

  1. I really must make the comment that it is really quite a novelty to arrive at a relatively unique blog like this, great effort. I look forward to dropping by quite often to see if you have uploaded another comment.

  2. Clare Kedves, Mrs.

    I just discovered this this week. What a fantastic challenge you gave yourself & what an extraordinary outcome. I will spread info re all of this to family & friends, you have given such food for thought, from the points of view of delicious food, health & finance as we are becoming so strapped for cash.
    Get it going & keep giving us your update as it is so inspiring.
    Apart from lettuce, peas & beans which I plan for my porch containers are there any other simple vegs you would recommend for the cold months.

    1. Clare – thanks for your kind message! You’re probably aware that it’s a little late now to start new things for the winter months (late Sept / early Oct is usually the latest). Here’s a few ideas for other things you might try for next year. Bright lights chard is a favourite of mine (so colourful in the winter months). You can also grow cavelo nero (black cabbage) and a wide range of green leaves – rocket, lambs lettuce, land cress, sorrel, salad burnet, and most of the oriental leaves like mizuna, red giant, pak choi and the appropriately named ‘green in the snow’. Talking of oriental plants, coriander also does well from autumn plantings as does mooli – long white radishes, popular in Asia. Of course, everything grows much slower during these dark cold months – but a little bit of fresh green salad can really cheer up a winter meal. Cheers, mark

  3. This is amazing and has given me something to aim for next year. I lost my allotment 3 years ago when I moved to bungalow with small garden. I have been growing vegies in a 6foot square bed on north facing front lawn (estate built on old tip so fork hits stones, tiles, bottles within an inch.Also used some containers for tomatoes, blueberries and runner beans. Best crops were mange tout and dwarf french beans. Salads were variable, would be interested in which seeds you sowed.
    Lack of fertility was a problem that I must work on, my beetroot were miniscule. How do you grow courgettes in pots, they must need so much watering. Attempts at potatoes and carrots in pots were pathetic.
    Would love details of your blog.
    resolution- I will weigh my crops next year and work out their value.
    You must have inspired many people.

    1. Judy – it sounds you are doing well in a challenging space. Have you thought of a raised bed on the front lawn? It might be easier than picking out all the stones and bottles. Most of the salad seeds I use come from the Real Seed Catalogue or Tamar Organics – I’ve found both reliable. To rejuvinate the soil for salads I add a mix of chicken manure pellets (high in nitrogen which is good for leafy growth) and worm compost from my wormery. Courgettes need large pots to grow well – they also need plenty of nutrients and water. I grew them this year in a container with a water reservoir and mulched the top with a layer of manure – and had the most successful crop I’ve achieved so far, including a 3kg marrow! Like you, I’ve also struggled to get a good yield from potatoes in pots. Any tips on potatoes anyone?

  4. We are interested in the surface square footage for inspiration for the 100 Square Foot Food Garden Challenge. So if your lettuce window box is 6 inches wide and 3 feet long, that would be .5 x 3 =1.5 square feet. If you’ve got time, I’d love to be able to post the info to the 100SFGarden list in the next week.

    And likely it would also help other readers to know the depth of various containers to learn about which depths work best for particular crops, so if you wanted to get all three measurements while the tape measure is out that would be great for other container gardeners.

    1. Hi Sharon
      OK, this was an interesting exercise, seeing as I’d never even counted the number of containers… It turns out I’ve 34 containers with a total surface area of 8819 inches or 61.2 square foot.

      Due to weight and other considerations many of my containers are quite shallow – certainly much shallower than garden soil! The salads for example are growing in 4 – 6 inches of soil and the pea shoots in just 3 inches. Volume of soil is perhaps a more useful indicator for container growing – the containers have a total of 49.3 cubic feet of soil.

      Would you be happy to check I’ve calculated this right if I email over the spreadsheet?

  5. Thank you for taking on this challenge and posting about it. The pictures look good enough to eat!

    Some of us are planning on a 100 Square Foot Food Garden Challenge similar to the one in the Mother Earth News article. Would you let us know the total square footage of the inside of your containers? Or we could do the math if you’d let us know the dimensions of the insides of the various containers. 🙂


    1. Sharon – the 100 square foot challenge sounds a fun and interesting idea.

      More than happy to measure my containers for you. Do you want the surface area of the containers or the volume of soil inside? And when do you want this for?

      Good luck with the challenge!


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