As the October sun sets on his final installment Jason reflects on the lessons and learning of the last year, his resolutions for the next and the seed savers gift of second chances..

The first week in October started dank and humid (very humid) and it rained a lot. There was an expectation that this could possibly continue until next March, it’s not unknown in these parts. I had still quite a lot of Beans (No, I hear you say) still to pick and Beetroot, Radish and Sunflowers and they all needed better drying than we were getting.

Things picked up since and by the middle of the month we had had a week of high pressure giving sunny calm days with very little wind. It’s a beautiful time of year when the weather is good. Still harvesting Painted Lady Runner Beans, and Borlotti and Kerrikova Climbing French beans nearly all the others are finished.

I am still cleaning Onion and Beetroot seeds and the first Leek seeds are coming in. I dug the last of the potatoes and threshed some more Radishes this time with the tractor and got another kilo of seed.

It’s the time of year to start thinking of tidying up the tunnels for planting the over wintering crops and the garlic that will go in next month. Madeline from Brown Envelope is coming to pick up all the seed that is ready to go to West Cork the last weekend of the month. That’s another 20 varieties to go with the 6 that I dropped to her in August. There are 3 or 4 more varieties still to come in, mainly Squash and Pumpkins and some Lima Beans that didn’t like these northern climes.

The garden is now really wet and the last ten days have seen some very heavy spells of rain. It’s cooled down a lot too but I am still harvesting some small amounts of seed and wondering what chance I will have of drying them.

Samhain (1st of November) has just passed, this is the festival that marks the start of the Celtic New Year. It is about halfway between the Autumn Equinox and the Winter Solstice. I usually associate this time of year in the garden with planting garlic which is always to my mind the first planting of the new gardening year. Like the Celtic festival it marks the end of one year and the beginning of the next.

One of the attractions of growing for me is that you get another chance to do it right next year. Good growers are always fine tuning and trying to improve performance of their crops, earlier sowings, different fertiliser regimes, different varieties anything that will give you a bit of edge. So it is with seed saving, there are always lessons to be learned, things to take into the New Year, improvements to be made. As I have said many times over the course of writing this blog, this year has been a huge learning curve and as it draws to a close here are a few things that are already on next years “to do” list.

Next year I need to:

  • Be more organised (I say this every year)
  • Take more notes (ditto)
  • Take a holiday. June looked like a good time for a break, based on this years’ experience.
  • Give more space to crops, see earlier blogs
  • Build a pedal powered thresher (see
  • Grow more varieties and less quantity, this remains to be seen
  • Build some netted trays for drying crops
  • Buy a shade fabric to cool the drying tunnel in the height of summer
  • Experiment more with green manures between crops as there is lots of space that could be building fertility

It has been a breath of fresh air to have had the freedom not to be growing for a market this year. I have managed on 2/3 days a week in the garden the other 2 days being taken up with my seed sovereignty work. It took a lot of thought to get where I am now and looking back I wonder why it took me so long. I should have done it ages ago. Such is life “Time and tide wait for no man.”

I hope you have enjoyed the blog and maybe learned a trick or two along the way. This will be my last post for this year, we will see what happens next year. All the varieties I have grown will be for sale on shortly. Remember to support your local independent seed companies, and if you can save your own. Finally, if you have been, Thank You for tuning in!