DIG IT

with Fulke Andel

Gardening Advice for the NEW (and not so new) Gardener

During September, there’s not as much to do in the flower garden, other than dead-heading and weeding. However, if you have a fruit or vege-table patch, you should be busy reap-ing the rewards of your harvest. It’s also time to get out and start planting spring-flowering bulbs for next year. Make the most of the remaining warmth while you can!

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I know that almost every seed and bulb producer provides on-line catalogues these days, but there’s nothing quite as good as poring over a paper copy of a catalogue during the autumn, and planning next year’s flower and vegetable garden. This is also that time of year when gardeners look back and review their successes and failures. They then look forward to next year, and wonder what challenges the weather will throw at them. I’m no different, so my review looks like this at the moment…….

Successes: Sadly, I can only list a small number of successes, due to the really poor weather we’ve experienced across July and August. A reasonable crop of asparagus back in May. Bizarrely my French beans (Teepee) cropped well – supplying beans long before my runner beans. Another good year for blackcurrants and blackberries. Good crops of beetroot (Rainbow Beet), Swiss chard (Bright Lights) onions (Red Emperor and Stuttgart) and garlic. Again this year, absolutely gorgeous flowers on my roses, (Gertrude Jekyll) outside our front door – providing an intense scent that filled the house every time the front door was opened.

Could do better (that frequent remark on my school report!): plums, gooseberries and redcurrants

were really poor performers, they gave a lot of fruit, but very small and of poor quality. The lack of sunlight I guess being the main cause. Spinach and celeriac, both ran to seed. My lettuce plants were periodically attacked by slugs, despite my best efforts. Runner beans? – well I didn’t have sufficient for a meal until the second week in August! Potatoes were ok, despite the foliage showing signs of wilt.

Don’t be tempted to neglect hanging basket main-tenance – a little deadheading, watering and feed-ing can keep them going until mid-autumn. Once they are past their best, re-plant as winter/spring hanging baskets with spring-flowering bulbs, winter heathers, trailing ivies and spring-flowering plants as above.

Continue to deadhead plants such as Dahlia, Delphinium, Rosa and Penstemon to prolong the display and give colour well into the month.

Now is a good time to divide any overgrown or tired looking clumps of alpines and herbaceous perennials such as crocosmias. This will invigorate them, and improve flowering and overall shape, for next year.

Take cuttings of tender perennials, such as Pelargonium and Osteospermum. These plants often do better grown from new cuttings each year. If you do not have a greenhouse, then use a light windowsill to grow them on.

Bring inside any tender perennials, such as Fuchsia,Gazania, Lantana and Abutilon, before frosts cause damage. Wait for the first frosts to hit dahlias and cannas before lifting the tubers or rhizomes.

JOBS TO DO IN YOUR GARDEN FOR THE MONTH OF SEPTEMBER

SOW / PLANT

Spring onions

(White Lisbon)

Lettuce

(Arctic King)

PLANT OUT

Garlic

Autumn onion sets

Spring cabbages

HARVEST

Depending on how your crops are maturing, you could be harvesting:-

Beetroot

Cabbage

Carrots

Cauliflowers

Courgettes

Globe artichokes

Kale

Kohlrabi

Lettuce

Leeks

Marrows

Onions

Potatoes

Pumpkins

Radishes

Runner beans

Spring onions

Spinach

Sweetcorn

Turnips

FRUIT

Tidy up cultivated blackberries: Cut off the stems that have borne fruit and tie in the new stems that will bear next year’s fruit. This also app-lies to summer fruiting raspberries. Strawberries also need attention: cut off the foliage about 1″ from the ground, clearing and weeding as you go. Any runners can be planted up to replace 3 year old plants that are best replaced now.

GENERAL

Divide herbaceous perennials

Pick autumn raspberries

Collect and sow seed from perennials and hardy annuals

Dig up remaining potatoes before slug damage spoils them

Net ponds before leaf fall gets underway

Keep up with watering of new plants, using rain or grey water if possible

Start to reduce the frequency of houseplant watering

Clean out cold frames and greenhouses so that they are ready for use in the autumn

Cover leafy vegetable crops with bird-proof netting

Plant spring flowering bulbs

Plant new fruit trees

Check that tall plants have adequate support

SEASONAL RECIPE

Kale is considered more of a winter crop, which requires a frost before its flavour is at its best. However, this recipe is a quick way of preparing young kale and pro-vides a great accompaniment for roast beef or pork.

To serve 2, you’ll need: about 200g of kale (stalks removed), 1tbsp of oil, I clove of garlic – sliced, 100mls of boiling water, 1tbsp each of soy and oyster sauce. 

Place the oil and garlic in a large wok and heat until the garlic starts to sizzle. Add the kale and toss to cover in the oil. Add 100ml of boiling water and cook until the kale has wilted (6-7 mins). Stir through the soy and Oyster sauce and heat through to serve.

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READERS TIPS

When cooking runner beans, add quarter of a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda to them, prior to bringing to the boil. This will help them retain both their colour and flavour.

A.D. Hendy  

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