September 2010 Newsletter

When you have lifted your main crop potatoes allow them to dry

When you have lifted your main crop potatoes allow them to dry on the soil surface for three or four hours to 'set' the skins and help prevent any bruising as they are lifted. Check the crop and only store sound tubers any that are damaged should be used first, if they are stored they may allow infection into the damaged area and spread to your whole crop. Potatoes are best stored in hessian sacks as these allow air to circulate and prevent sweating. Store them in a cool, dark place such as a shed or outhouse.

If you haven't already done so lift your onions and shallots

If you haven't already done so lift your onions and shallots, and allow to dry naturally before stringing together or storing in nets in a cool, dry and airy place. Use those with a thick neck first as they may not store as well and could develop neck rot. Make sure you order your autumn planting onions, shallots and garlic in time for planting in October or November. Our garlic from the Isle of Wight all produce big bulbs with lovely plump cloves. Elephant garlic is actually a member of the leek family and has much milder flavour than regular garlic, so if you like flavour without a strong garlicky taste, this is one to go for. Delicious roasted with mixed root vegetables and a sprinkling of Rosemary or Thyme, it has a wonderfully creamy texture. Try a clove thinly sliced and added to a mixed salad or homemade coleslaw.

Don't forget to order your

Don't forget to order your Broad Bean Aquadulce Claudia for sowing next month, this is the best autumn sowing variety to give you the earliest Broad Beans next spring. If you have been picking them regularly your runner beans should still be cropping well, pick while they are young and tender, don't allow them to get tough and stringy. If your beans have finished producing cut the stems off leaving the roots in the ground. All legumes (such as runner beans) absorb nitrogen from the air and 'fix' it in nodules at their roots, these then break down slowly in the soil allowing the nitrogen to be readily accessible to following crops, providing a free and easy way to fertilise your plot!

If you have empty vegetable beds after the harvest

If you have empty vegetable beds after the harvest consider growing 'Green Manures'. These will suppress weeds, protect soil from erosion and loss of nutrients and add structure. Weed and rake your cleared beds and sow, these plants grow quite quickly, some may be killed off by frost but if left in the ground will continue to give the soil some protection. Dig in before they run to seed, 2-3 weeks before replanting in spring. This will allow the breakdown of the plant material into humus, releasing nutrients slowly over the next growing period. Field Beans, Mustard and Phacelia can all be sown now.

Caliente Mustard is not just a green manure, it also acts as a biofumigant for the soil, suppressing soil borne pests and diseases by releasing naturally occurring compounds. It can be sown in late summer for a quick crop or in autumn to over-winter in milder areas and can also be sown in spring. View our Video Growing Guide...

Salad crops will still be going strong

Salad crops will still be going strong and if you are coming to the last of these and you have a bit of space, perhaps when you have lifted your potatoes, there is still time to make a late sowing of lettuce or mixed leaves while the soil is still warm. Sow winter lettuce, carrots, springs greens and broad beans under cloches or fleece for an earlier crop next spring. Oriental vegetables such as Chinese Cabbage, Mizuna, Mustard and Pak Choi can also be sown and grown under protection now.

Also keep picking Marrows, Pumpkins and Squashes, if you are planning to store them allow them to dry off on a sunny dry day before storing in a cool dry place.

Gardening Tips
If you have a problem with slugs in the warm moist weather of autumn

If you have a problem with slugs in the warm moist weather of autumn you can reduce their numbers by using a biological control such as Nemaslug. Applying the Nematodes in the autumn can reduce the problem dramatically by preventing the slugs from over-wintering and breeding which should significantly reduce the numbers in your soil next spring.

If you still have tomatoes ripening cover them with fleece at night

If you still have tomatoes ripening cover them with fleece at night to keep them cosy and ripening right through the month. If the weather turns cold, cut off the whole vine and hang it in the greenhouse where the tomatoes will continue to ripen. Alternatively harvest the unripe fruit and place in brown paper bags where they will ripen slowly. If you want to speed up this process pop a ripe banana in a bag with some tomatoes and they will ripen much quicker as the banana gives off ethylene gas which promotes ripening of fruit.

Cabbage white butterfly is still a big problem

Cabbage white butterfly is still a big problem during late summer and the devastation it causes to brassicas is unbelievable! We all know that the best way is to remove all the caterpillars and eggs as soon as they are seen, but if you don’t have time to look at your plot for a couple of days it can be decimated by the little critters! A good spray with Liquid Derris will do the trick but if you don’t like sprays then an alternative is to cover with Enviromesh, this will prevent them getting near your crop. Make sure the net isn’t touching any leaves or the butterfly may still manage to deposit a few eggs through the net onto the leaves! If you use Extra Fine Insect Barrier Net it should protect against just about all the tiny flying insects that can soon devastate your crops.

Cut down Asparagus stems

Cut down Asparagus stems and clear away any debris to ensure no lurking Asparagus Beetle has a place to over-winter, mulch beds with well rotted manure or compost. If you are thinking about starting a new asparagus bed in the spring get ahead of the game by preparing now by digging over the area well removing any perennial weed roots. If your soil has poor drainage it will pay dividends to dig deeply and incorporate some grit to improve the drainage as asparagus hates wet soil. This early preparation gives you the added bonus of being able to remove any weeds that pop up in the spring. Don’t forget to give trench Celery and Leeks a final earthing up until just the leaves are showing, this will blanch the stems and also give protection from the cold.