What's Happening in September's Garden?
This month we will be providing you with a step-by-step weekly guide on how to put your green fingers to good use.
Continue to pick the remaining apples as soon as stalks become easy to part from the fruiting spur, (the growth off the tree). Ideally, the stalk should remain attached to the fruits but don’t worry too much if it doesn’t.
The best way to store your apples are to individually wrap them in newspaper and put them in a cardboard box and store in a cool dark space. Do not over fill the box as the weight may damage those apples at the bottom of the box. When ready to use, simply unwrap them and wash clean.
James Grieves apples will last up to 6 weeks, while Granny Smith’s should last until Christmas – so get your apron at the ready for making chutneys and pies for all your family throughout autumn!
Pick these from the tree with the stalk intact and store the same as apples, ie. individually wrapped in newspaper in a cardboard box and stored in a cool, dark place.
Pears will seem hard when you first pick them from the tree, however they will begin to ripen further once they have been picked and soften up to eat.
TIP: Check stored pears and apples on a weekly/fortnightly basis to make sure none have gone bad as these can rot against and affect the other fruit.
Continue picking the remaining runner bean crop. You may well have a glut of these but do keep picking the mature beans, otherwise the plant may begin to shut up shop. Both French climbing beans and French beans are also ready to pick and enjoy now.
Continue picking your spinach and enjoy in recipes, including smoothies.
If you have any ‘soft herbs’ i.e. parsley and chervil, freeze these to store them, including parsley stalks. These are great to use at a later date and can be crushed in the bag, to use in dishes.
We love to grow a variety of herbs, including thyme, marjoram, rosemary, basil, parsley, sage, purple sage, chives, mint, oregano and bay leaves.
Bay plants are best grown in the ground, though they can also grow well in a container and they prefer to grow in well-drained soil, positioned in sun/part shaded areas.
When harvesting, pick the leaves straight off the twigs. Once your bay plant has settled in to its new spot, you should be able to get a year-round supply of bay leaves, of which you can use fresh or dried.
Chives enjoy being in the ground and pots, outdoors or on a windowsill (indoors will provide you with a smaller crop). These are very tolerant of wet weather. When ready to pick, cut with scissors right down to the soil after flowering.
Parsley, one of our favourite herbs, grows indoors or outdoors. If using in copious amounts, ensure that you have a large pot if growing on the windowsill, making sure that you water the plant regularly. Cut as and when you need – on a windowsill it will grow all year round, provided that it doesn’t get too cold and gets a good supply of sun. in the ground, it is very low maintenance and when it is ready, cut it all down to the ground, freeze it in bags and crush with your hands to give you freshly chopped frozen parsley to use throughout the winter months.
Basil will grow best indoors and you can grow your own from a pot from the supermarket, just plant it in a larger pot as it gets bigger, making sure it has plenty of light, lots of water and doesn’t get too cold. Similar to parsley, cut and use it as and when you need and you can freeze it in a bag and crush it up.
Rosemary enjoys well drained, neutral-alkaline soil, in full sun but with protection from the cold. As long as you don’t get frost or snow, you should get rosemary most of the year round. The best way to harvest rosemary is to strip the springs off the twigs, this way you don’t end up with hard twigs in your cooking. Similar to bay leaves, you can pick them fresh or you can dry them by cutting the twigs off, leaving them out on a windowsill to dry in the sun and then picking the sprigs and putting them in an air-tight jar for future use. Try putting sprigs in olive oil with some garlic to infuse your oils.
Thyme likes similar soil conditions as rosemary and can be planted in the ground, just ensure that you trim it back lightly after flowering to help encourage future bushy growth. You can pull the twigs out/cut them out and pinch the twig and run your fingers against the sprigs. This will make the sprigs fall off naturally for use. The twigs are quite tough so you want to avoid this getting in your food. Again, you can leave these in the sun to dry out and jar up, or use them fresh. Try also putting these in oils/vinegars to infuse them.
Mint spreads like wild-fire in the ground, so some prefer to keep mint in a pot and divide the plant regularly to allow fresh growth and prevent over-crowding. Pick off the sprigs as needed. Mint doesn’t tend to survive UK winters so freeze, as you would parsley and basil. Try putting a few leaves in a glass with hot water for a refreshing tea.
Autumn raspberries will be ready to pick now and are great to freeze.
By October/November, you’ll find that these stop growing and the plant will die back. This will be the time to cut the bush right down for it to re-grow and allow it to fruit again next year.
If the weather has been particularly dry, remember to water your summer lettuces.
If you have planted summer lettuce, these should be ready to harvest now, though bear in mind that every region will be different as to when your crops are ready due to different temperatures and weather conditions.
Any outdoor tomatoes that are yet to ripen, you can place cloches over to help ripen. Again, these will freeze well if you have too many to use now.
Harvest your remaining onions by putting a fork below the ground to break the roots, just be careful not to spear through your onions. Once you lift them up out of the ground, lay them in the sun for a few hours to dry out slightly, then you can either chop the tops off and store in a cool dark place where they have plenty of air to breath, or you can plait the tops together and let them hang to continue drying in your kitchen.
If you have planted summer cauliflowers (and provided that your cauliflowers have survived the caterpillars), now is the time to harvest these. Simply cut them from the stalk (underneath the ‘circular’ base), making sure you keep the leaves, too. If you have grown too many to use at once, cut the cauliflowers into florets and freeze.
It is best to wait for the foliage to die down before digging them up to allow them to grow to their fullest. It’s worth noting that different climate conditions will affect crops. You can prevent wasting a whole crop by testing a small section to see how they have grown, if you are happy that they have grown to a sufficient size, you can proceed to dig up the rest of the crop. Now is the time to dig up any remaining potatoes (before the slugs beat you to them!).
To Plant in Week 2
Plant spring cabbages 25-30cm apart in rows that are 30cm apart from each other. To prevent any insects burrowing, it’s worth considering ‘cauliflower collars’ (which are little disks) to cover the ground when you’re first planting them. This prevents the need for any pesticides and harmful chemicals, allowing you to grow organically, more successfully.
Sow suitable varieties of lettuces, carrots and radishes for maturing under cloches or cold frames in greenhouses. We plant these straight into the ground, especially if the weather is still sunny and we cover them up with netting to prevent any animals getting in and digging them up. Radishes and lettuces should be sown sparingly in rows that are 1ft apart.
Thin out any remaining lettuce to 75mm apart for cutting in spring and use any that you pick to sprinkle on salads and use as ‘microgreens’ on savoury dishes.
Lettuces such as Little Gem and Red Salad Bowl are the ones you’ll most likely be thinning at the moment.
TIP: As soon as crops have been harvested, remove all the remaining debris so that the soil’s surface is bare. Rubbish left on soil from crops will encourage pests and disease to linger and spread to future crops. Any material that is knowingly contaminated/infected with pests is best to be burnt rather than putting on the compost heap.
Carefully water all the plants that have started to grow, though make sure not to overwater them. It’s a good idea to check specific varieties for watering preferences.
TIP: Where you can, it’s great to use recycled rainwater or river water to water your plants. Try leaving a bucket out to allow it to collect rainwater over a few days and use this.
Plant blackberries and hybrid berries at any time from now until late winter. Set the plants 1.8-3m apart, depending on the variety. When you purchase blackberries to grow, there should be some guidance provided, as to how best to do this. If not, it’s always worth searching online to make sure your specific berries will be happy.
After planting, cut the canes down to within 23cm of soil level. Supporting wires are needed at 30cm, 75cm and 1.5m above the soil – see the main image above, which shows the support structure. The wires should be strained between strong supports at either end of the row.
Pick Brussel sprouts as soon as the buttons are firm and only pick those that are ready on each plant, leaving the others to remain on the plant to mature.
You can harvest haricot beans as soon as the pods turn yellow. However, you can (as we are this year), leave them to grow to maturity to store for winter months.
TIP: Clean out clean frames and greenhouses ready for use in autumn.
Look out for next month’s tips and guide for a successful vegetable garden and we'd love to hear how you're getting on with growing your own by leaving a comment below.
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