A warm autumn in the veg patch – Diary of a Rocket Gardener

It’s been so strange to see such different activity in the veg patch this autumn. Even though I’m based in Cornwall where the temperatures tend to stay a little milder during autumn and winter, it is unusually warm – damp and drizzly mostly!

Without any frosts yet, there is still a lot of growth. My tagetes and marigolds are still in full bloom, some nasturtiums have self-seeded and are growing to be quite big already, and I still have some blooms on my wildflowers. In mid-November, this is peculiar to see!

Things that I planted in September are already ready to harvest – mustard leaves, landcress (my favourite), pak choi and tatsoi, rainbow chard and ALL my winter lettuces are getting really quite big now. It means I am enjoying plenty of greens from the garden, which is a pleasure at this time of year. However, it all comes with a big however…. because it’s scary that it’s so mild right now, in light of climate change. What will that mean for the future? I don’t have the answers, but it is worrying to ponder.

Another however, is that there is a lot of rodent activity going on – I swear, the squirrels are having an absolute field day this year. I’ve never seen so many, probably because they survived the summer on a full diet of strawberries… (MY strawberries!) They are gathering not only nuts, but all sorts of things from the veg patch. I’m wondering if they took some of my beetroot, but can’t be sure who it was who got there before me! There are also a lot of mysterious holes in the raised beds – the kind of holes that are the right size for a mouse or a vole. I’m sure they’re normally all making nests in the barns by mid November.

Another side-effect of the warmer weather seems to be some kind of blight or fungal disease hitting my celeriac and parsnips – the leaves are all blotchy and brown, and dying off. I’m going to cut them right back this weekend, and hope that the roots don’t get infected. I really want to leave the parsnips in the ground until we get some frosts to sweeten them up, but I guess I may need to pull them up if they get diseased at the root. Such a shame if they don’t survive – they’ve been growing since April… 8 months!

I wonder how gardeners are getting on in other parts of the country, whether you’re seeing the same kind of changes this year. Would love to hear about your experience of autumn 2021 in the garden!