September 2015 Newsletter

Looking back, it’s been a variable summer, with temperatures high and low, plenty of rainfall but sunshine too. Frustrating for the vegetable grower to be out working in, but actually pretty ideal for your crops that thrive in the mix of rain, humidity and sunshine.

You might have had bumper crops this year or indeed had notably early harvests. Wild blackberries fruited early this year and you may have noticed other soft fruit having done likewise.

In September it’s the perfect time to be out planting crops. The soil’s has been heated up from the summer and provides the perfect warm soil environment for the developing roots of young plants. It’s often more clement weather-wise too and at a time of year that’s lovely to be outside.

On rainy days, stay indoors and peruse the new Marshalls catalogue out on 10 September. Make your orders for new and exciting crops to try this year and next. We’ve the perfect crops grown by our experts and ready for you plant and take advantage of bumper harvests.

We’ve the best of gardening accessories too, to enhance your growing experience too.    


Jobs to do now

Plant up ‘misted-tip’ strawberries plants

You won’t be disappointed in growing misted-tip-treated strawberries now for earlier harvests next year. The soil has warmed up well from the summer and provides the perfect soil environment for potting on young strawberry plants suitable for planting in baskets, containers or open ground.

  •        To plant, dig a shallow hole with a trowel, but create a central mound within the hole.
  •        Replace the surrounding soil so that the crown (where the stem starts from the roots) of the young strawberry plant is flush with the soil level.
  •        Water well.   

Once planted up, the roots establish well and quickly and they initiate flower buds in autumn. These buds stay dormant over-winter while the rest of the plant becomes really tough from winter weather. They then burst into life next year, fruiting sometimes as early as May.

The misted-tip process is a highly effective propagation technique that produces strong, ready-fruiting plants. Our expert growers expose strawberry runners to mist creating a suitable, humid atmosphere for developing plants to root readily. They’re then at the perfect stage of development for you to re-plant at home and get a generous harvest earlier next year.

The young plants come from healthy disease-free mother plants, have the same genes and carry the same strong characteristics.


Plant green manures

Green manure suppresses weeds, protects soil from erosion and improves structure as well. Legumes (beans) absorb nitrogen from the atmosphere and ‘fix' it into the soil through root nodules making it easily available for crops planted afterwards.

Sow green manure seeds whenever the ground is to be left bare for more than 6 weeks. Dig them in while they’re fresh and green and leave 2-3 weeks before planting your new crop. This allows the breakdown of plant material into humus, releasing nutrients slowly over time.

You can sow green manure crops either by scattering seeds over the vacant site (broadcasting) or sowing the seeds of green manure crops separately.

You’ll want to dig the crop into the soil when it’s relatively young. This is for ease of working it into the soil. If you are away and not able to dig the crop in until it is woodier and more established, you could trim the crop off with a string trimmer, let it break down and then dig in.

Fast-growing leafy crops like Phaceliaand rape seed will release lots of nitrogen in the soil when dug in. Effective but risky to use rape and mustard in soil that has been affected by clubroot.


Legumes like peas and beansfix nitrogen in the soil using nodules on their roots. They also release nitrogen from their leaves as they break down. Check which ones would be suited to your climate as some may not thrive in cold weather. Tares tend to do OK in less than clement conditions, while fenugreek is better in warmer climates.

Flowering green manures are dual purpose – firstly they produce attractive flowers, great for attracting pollinating insects, secondly the plants can be dug in afterwards after their impressive show of flowers.


Preparing soil and planting fruit trees

With open soil warmed from the summer sun autumn’s an ideal time to order and plant bare rooted fruit trees. Plant into open ground or large containers positioned in a sunny spot.

Most top fruit varieties (like apples, plums and pear trees) will tolerate a wide range of soil types, especially when you incorporate manure into the soil to increase its fertility and improve its texture.

The soil should be thoroughly dug and, at the same time, incorporate some bulky compost or Organic Extra Manure, and a feed of Fish, Blood & Bone. Make sure any deep rooted perennial weeds are removed with a fork, or shallow-rooted weeds which you can remove with a hoe.

When planting in mid-autumn, (we despatch our bare-root tree when they have started dormancy in mid to late October) dig a planting hole 15cm (6in) wider than the root system once it has been spread out, and to a depth whereby the soil mark from the nursery on the stem of the young tree will be just covered. This should mean that the graft union (the knobbly part at the base of the stem) is about is 12-15cm (5-6in) above soil level when you have finished planting.

Fork into the sides of the hole which will encourage the roots to penetrate the surrounding soil and establish well.

After placing the tree in the hole, spread out the roots and add layers of soil, firming down with your foot. Repeat until you’ve filled the hole with soil. The tree should be firm enough in the soil that it does not up-root when you pull the main stem and it shows resistance.

Water the area generously after planting and add a layer of warming and moisture-locking mulch of bulky compost around the tree, making sure that the mulch does not come into direct contact with the main stem.

For trees planted in containers be extra vigilant in feeding and watering especially if it’s a warm and dry autumn.


Prune summer-fruiting raspberries and hybrid berries

Now that you’ve enjoyed your harvests of summer-fruiting raspberries, loganberries, boysenberries and other soft hybrid berry fruits, it’s time for their post-summer pruning to ensure great yields next year, and healthy growth where stems get lots of ventilation from well-spaced stems.

Prune the fruiting stems with good secateurs after harvests to the ground level. There should be some strong leafy (non-fruiting) stems that have emerged from the ground. Tie these onto the supports, as these stems will flower and fruit the following summer.

If you can, keep neighbouring stems evenly spaced and not touching each other. This keeps pests and diseases down and prevents over-crowding of stems. Water well after pruning.

Treat the soil to some fertiliser – the taking-away of green stems reduces the ability for plants to make their own food through photosynthesis - so a helping hand of fertiliser is very much appreciated by the plants. A layer of bulky compost at the soil surface is ideal at this time of year to lock in the warmth generated by the summer sun.


Start harvesting top fruit

Top fruit (or pome fruit) includes tree fruit like apples, pears, plums and figs. If you start noticing a collection of fruit having fallen from the tree, it’s a good indicator that the fruit is ready to harvest.

Harvest a regular quantity of fruit daily, rather than a glut less often, picking the fullest and most coloured fruits. Remove by twisting the fruit first and then tugging gently. Pulling fruit off the tree forcefully may damage remaining stems and buds that will develop fruit next year.

Store fruits in plastic bags with small holes for air in a well-ventilated cool, dry place. Or wrap fruit individually in paper in crates. If storing crates one on top of another, be sure air can get in between crates.

Inspect fruit regularly and remove fruit that are rotten or rotting, to avoid moulds and diseases spreading.


Water squashes regularly with rainwater

Squashes, pumpkins, courgettes and marrows all come under the same fruiting-vegetable family- the cucurbits. They’re fun to grow, especially with children and easy to sow on account of their large seeds.

Keep the growing area well watered, but keep water physically off the leaves and add a mulch of bulky manure around the plants once they have started to flower and fruit.

Avoid fruit rot and powdery mildew by watering regularly. It’s the roots that really appreciate the water so fit a pipe nearby to the plants and water into the pipe get water down to the roots. This is more effective than watering near to the surface where rot can creep in.

If you can, water using rainwater – this is usually at an appropriate temperature and pH for cucurbits to really thrive.


Plant of the month- Onions, Shallots and Garlic

Autumn-planting allows really robust, full bulb crops to form that are weather-hardy and less prone to bolt. There’s nothing more flavoursome than home-grown onions to add to home-made sauces and soups. With the right preparation, pest and disease prevention, and aftercare you’ll be rewarded with healthy, full bulbs from early to late-summer.

In September to November plant sets pointy side up straight into the soil outdoors at 7-10cm (3-4in) intervals in a row, and space rows at 30cm (12in) apart in an open, sunny site in fertile soil that is well-draining yet moisture retentive.

In spring, you can boost post-winter growth by apply a seaweed-enhanced feed, rich in phosphorous for stimulated root growth to encourage full and flavoursome bulbs.

For onions, lift when the foliage has wilted and yellowed in early to mid summer. Lift carefully with a border fork, dry in a cool, light place for two to three weeks before using in the kitchen.

For shallots lift with a border fork once you notice the leaves have gone yellow. Separate the clusters, clean off soil and grit, and dry in a cool light place for one to two weeks. In wet weather bring into a garage by the window. In dry, sunny weather leave outdoors or in a well-ventilated greenhouse.








Great varieties

Onion ‘Shakespeare’ is an improved Japanese variety, perfect for autumn planting when it can be harvested from late May. Radar is loved for its mild flavour storage potential; under the right conditions it will store for about a year. A good variety with resistance to bolting.Shallot
‘Yellow Moon’ is round with an attractive yellow colour. It has a low sensitivity to bolting and produces a very healthy, uniform crop with excellent skin quality.
Garlic ‘Provence Wight’ is a vigorous, white softneck garlic that produces really large bulbs. Originally from the fertile valleys of Drome region of Provence, it has proved to grow well in the UK. The fat, juicy cloves are perfect for adding some Mediterranean flavour to both vegetable and fish dishes. Once lifted, it will keep until January.


Disease of the month – silverleaf

Silverleaf is a fungal disease that affects woody plants especially Prunus which includes plums, gages, apricots, peaches and cherries (pictured).

Tell-tales signs of affected plants include silvering of the leaves in summer. Also a cross section of a stem will show a dark stain in the wood. In late summer the fungus affects the branches, which consequently die.

Control this disease by pruning plums and relatives in mid-summer. There are fewer silverleaf spores in summer than in autumn and winter, so there’s less chance they’ll enter the pruning wounds. Pruning wounds also heal more quickly in summer than in the colder months.



Sow and Grow NOW



Marshalls September catalogue

Get your hands on our new 2016 season catalogue available from 10 September. Browse and order from our wide variety of great-value herb, fruit and vegetable crops and the best in gardening accessories to hone and enhance your crop-growing.

Highlights include;

  •        The best of autumn-planting bulb and leafy vegetables
  •        Exhibition-worthy shallot ‘Hative de Niort’
  •        Wide range of low-price seed potatoes in different quantities to suit you and your growing
  •        Extensive soft-fruit and top-fruit range with exciting new varieties
  •        Excellent value multi-buy savings


Harrogate Autumn Flower Show (18-20 September)

Come to the grand Yorkshire Showground for the Harrogate Autumn Show for a flower show that hosts the best of late-season flowers and all-season edibles displayed by specialist gardening groups. The show also boasts a gardening theatre hosted by resident gardening experts, great garden accessories for sale, and a whole lot more to see and do.

Come and say hello to Marshalls while you are here – we’ll have the latest catalogue full of new and exciting crop varieties and accessories, and a range of bulb vegetables for you to take home and try for yourself. And take advantage of our expertise – we’ll happily answer your crop-growing queries.



Malvern Autumn Show (26-27 September)

Celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Malvern Autumn Show with a feast of family entertainment, great gardening, artisan produce, and food in the stunning setting of the Malvern Hills, Worcestershire. Visitors to the show will be able to browse over 50 top exhibits in the RHS Flower Show within the showground and buy top quality plants from these award-winning nurseries.

The UK National Giant Vegetable Championship promises to return bigger and better than ever before with a broad variety of oversized vegetables.The Harvest Pavilion will welcome the largest Home Grown Show in the history of harvest events. This area will see over 1,500 exhibits from budding growers, along with the RHS specialists theatre and more than 20 national plant societies.

 If you’re a celebrity-spotter keep your eyes out for gardening-expert Jo Swift, chef Valentine Warner (pictured), award-winning writer Mark Diacono of Otter Farm and many more familiar faces.