Stephanie's Kitchen Garden Diary September 2013
September has been a busy month with the harvest in full swing in the Kitchen Garden. We've also had a taste of Winter weather which was quite a shock after the long hot summer. But at last some rain, so our waterbutts are full again and the garden is looking refreshed.
The rain was accompanied by some really cold temperatures and crops such as courgettes suffered almost instantly. We quickly dug out the cloches from the shed and popped them over vulnerable tender crops to keep them snug. This also protected them from being damaged by the rain. The cold weather was a timely reminder to check our stocks of fleece and get our order in so that we won't be caught out later on.
Following the cold spell, the weather soon warmed up again however the nights have distinctly Autumnal feel now. Despite this, the wasps are still buzzing around the Kitchen Garden and casuing a real nuisance. Our wasps traps have been a huge success and we have caught literally hundreds of them. We have even caught several Queen wasps. They have ruined our blackberry crop this year, which was looking so promising earlier on in the season.
Another pest that has flourished during the summer is the caterpillar. Our cauliflower crop was well covered in butterfly netting, but the butterflies managed to lay their eggs through the netting where it touched the leaves and the plants were completely destroyed by the resulting caterpillars. A painful remainder to make sure that your netting is held well away from your plants.
We have been planting out new Winter brassica plants this month and have used fine insect mesh to cover them to stop any little pests attacking them. The Brussel sprouts have shown small signs of whitefly and the mesh should prevent these from transferring to the new plants. The Brussels have been sprayed with Savona fatty acid concentrate and are currently looking nice and healthy. We have also staked the sprouts this month as they are getting really tall now and could easily be toppled by high winds.
As well as disasters, we have had some successes in the Kitchen Garden. Our celery crop has been particularly good this year and I've been eating it since late August. It is delicious. We've also been harvesting beans, spinach, tomatoes, peppers, chillies, aubergines, cucumbers, chard and kale. All of which are very good. Our butternut squash is also looking promising....
Also this month I've been eating Discovery apples which are very good and my favourite variety of apple. I have the apple rack ready to store our other apple varieties when they are ready to be picked. Jo has already had the apple picker out and used it to harvest figs that are too high to reach.
Our Autumn raspberries have been a little disappointing this year. However the plants are now nearly 10 years old, so are probably past their best. We will be looking to replace them this Winter.
Jo has been busy planting out lots of vegetables to keep us fed through the Winter and hopefully avoid the hungry gap. She has planted out borlotti beans, spring cabbage, turnips, spinach, chard and Winter salads such as asparagus lettuce and mustard greens. We have planted the salads through Slug mats to stop them being eaten.
Earlier in the month I placed my order for garlic, onions and shallots and some of these arrived earlier this week ready for planting. Jo has already planted out the Garlic Early Purple Wight. It has been quite a challenge trying to fit all these new plants in whilst waiting for the Summer crops to go over, but we like to make the most of every square inch!
Next month the potato harvest gets into full swing. We've stocked up on potato sacks in aniticpation of a bumper crop....
Here are some of the jobs we've got planned for October in Stephanie's Kitchen Garden:
- Continue feeding and watering to keep plants healthy.
- Dig up and store maincrop potatoes and sweet potatoes.
- Clear debris quickly to keep the garden tiidy and prevent pests and diseases from over wintering.
- Continue to harvest and store fruit and vegetables.
- Keep on top of weeds by hoeing on dry sunny days.
- Maintain a Pest Watch to catch any infestations early.
We're always here to offer advice and support. Go to the Ask the Expert section on the website and Email Horticultural Advisor Jo Blackwell with your Kitchen Garden queries or Pest Control expert Gavin Hatt and they'll do their best to help!
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Our 116-page 2013 catalogue is out now and it's packed full of gardening ideas, products and solutions to the problems every gardener faces, plus plenty more seasonal ideas to help get the harvest in and keep it fresh!