August for many of us turned into a wet and sometimes chilly month which did nothing to encourage our tomatoes, chillies, peppers, etc. to ripen. A good Indian summer is what we now need otherwise I fear the country will be awash with green tomato chutney!
Our top ten recommended tasks for September include:
- Remove the shading from your greenhouse. Over the coming months your plants will need the maximum amount of light.
- Continue sowing salad leaves for those late summer BBQs and picnics.
- Now is the time to start moving houseplants back indoors. They’ll have enjoyed being outside during the summer.
- Onion sets, Shallots and Garlic can all be planted from now until mid-November See below for some guidance.
- We’ll be despatching spring flowering bulbs from early September onwards so plant on receipt. Making sure that the planting hole is the right depth.
- Lift your main crop potatoes taking care not slice and damage the tubers. Don’t leave any behind as they may harbour disease for next year.
- Continue to harvest tomatoes, chillies, peppers, aubergines and beans. Now is the time for making pickles and chutneys. Or perhaps dry them in the oven and store in oil?
- To feed and improve your soil, sow green manure on any bare patches of garden, visit our blog for details.
Originally grown as winter fodder for cattle and sheep, kale has since been recognised for its taste and high nutritional content. Belonging to the brassica family, kale has an open growing habit meaning that just enough leaves for a meal can be picked and regrowth will soon follow.
Different varieties of kale are good for different dishes but the main cooking methods are braising, steaming or boiling. Most varieties can also be wilted in a pan with butter and chopped garlic. Once cooked add a splash of lemon juice and some dried chilli flakes. Gorgeous!
Young leaves can be enjoyed raw in salads whereas older leaves are perfect for soups, stews and stir-fries. Chop the leaves up small and stir them through creamy mashed potato or better still turn Kale leaves into crisps tossing them in seasoned oil and then baking them in the oven.
Kale works well with:
Garlic Chilli Eggs Cream
Blue Cheese Parmesan Goat’s Cheese Nutmeg
Lemon Soy Sauce Butter Beans Chick Peas
Pork Beef Mushrooms Tomatoes
Planting Autumn Onion Sets
Onion sets are small immature onions that, given time, will increase in size to form full-sized onions. Autumn is the perfect time for planting onion sets, the soil is still warm and the result will be an early supply of onions next year. Planting them in September/October will mean they will be mature in early to mid-summer, roughly 4 weeks before those planted in spring.
Your onion sets will grow best in well-drained fertile soil, in a sunny position. They don’t like too much nitrogen so any manure needs to be applied a few weeks prior to planting.
Plant the sets in shallow drills, leaving their necks just above the surface of the soil. Space the sets 10cm apart, leaving 30cm between each row. Keep the area weed-free and only water sparingly when dry. No feed is necessary.
Birds can be a nuisance in that they will pull the sets up searching for food so it’s best to cover the sets with fleece or netting.
You’ll be harvesting these onions just as your stored ones are running out!
Late summer is when we suddenly find the coop full of feathers. No, there hasn’t been a massacre, your girls are just having their annual moult. Producing new feathers takes a lot of protein and most hens will stop laying until the moult is over.
During their moult your chickens need support from protein rich food, in the form of quality layers’ pellets. Adding Agrivite Enhance to the water hopper will give the birds a boost and with their feathering. Some people also swear by giving a little cat food or a few sardines!