So here comes September. Let's hope we have an Indian type summer - enough already of the rain! Back at the end of June I was doing my rain dance to give the parched soil and newly planted crops and flowers some much needed drink. I think I over did it !!! Anyway, everything has grown really well and the lawn is the greenest in late August I can ever remember. Harvesting will be in full swing for us all. The excess can be stored or given away. Toms, peppers, onions, chillies, runner beans, French beans, plums and sweet corn can all be frozen and our freezer is full already. Onions, spuds, squashes, garlic and chillies can be stored provided they are dried out in the sun first. Our shallots are all tied up and hanging in the kitchen where they look great. Keep harvesting and deadheading to encourage the last of this year’s flowering and growth. Everyone knows it is the right thing to do but we don't all do it...do we Donna (she's a bad girl).
Anyway you really will need to dig up shallots, onions, garlic and beetroot now if you haven't already. If you have spuds still in the ground you are opening yourself up to attack by slugs, snails and blight (I will come back to that) but it's up to you. Keep picking marrows, courgettes, toms, French and runner beans, carrots and parsnips. Pick your squash before the first frosts otherwise they will not store. My butternuts this year are mahoosive (spelling ?) and will need curing in the
sun, if not they are to keep through the winter.
Believe it or not it is time to think about next year. You can sow winter greens now as well as autumn sown onions. If you have not grown onions from seeds give it a go (onion sets can be planted out in 4 weeks’ time). Choose an autumn onion seed, normally a Japanese derivative, prepare the soil in a sunny site and ensure some grow more or fish bone and blood are raked into the soil. Sow the seeds according to the instructions on the packet and you should have lovely early onions next year! Try it! You should do the same with any spring greens you want but add a little lime to the soil as well before sowing or planting out plug plants.
The other thing to be doing now is seed gathering. Flowers, toms, peppers, chillies, squash, marrows, peas, beans, cucumbers, lemons ....in fact anything that has seeds can be kept and resown. I have no idea why people don't do this, especially if you have kids. Dry the seeds out and grow them early in the spring. Veg and flowers for free......what's the matter with you all. Just a warning note that not all veg comes back exactly as the original...especially squash. I kept and dried out some butternut seeds last year and this
year I've got some lovely orange round squash...just part of the fun. So, dry the seeds out on kitchen paper and store in paper envelopes in a cool dry place. Avoid heat, frosts and
damp. Oh yes label the envelope too. The best show of flowers this year were dahlias...all sown from seed, total cost about £1. What’s not too like.
In the last issue I warned of blight and yes I got a dose of it on my maincrop spuds. Warm, wet conditions normally are followed by blight later in the summer. I burnt all the foliage and have kept the spuds separated from my other spuds in storage just in case I get a dose in the spuds. You will know straight away as there will be a darker colour to the spud, it will go soft and stink. Bin or burn affected spuds and sacks they are stored in. If you are not sure if you have had it in the past then you probably haven't.
So Autumn is round the corner - make the most of the last of the summer and enjoy the
fruits of your labour!
Every month I will give a short update on what to be doing in your veggie patch. No matter how small a front or back garden, you can grow something edible in pots, tubs or beds. Don't worry about lettuce shortages because of the rain in Spain (tee hee) just sow your own.