Mid September sow & plant, no dig & nutrients, squash maturity, myths, harvests
We should continue to see strong growth for another month, until daylight levels fall off a cliff in late October. If you are still sowing seeds, every day now counts for a lot, so don’t delay (see below).
As background to the photos from my garden, the first half of September has seen average night temperatures of 9.7C/49F and day temperatures of 20.3C/69F. Sunshine of 70 hours is normal, rainfall of just 4.4mm/0.2in is unusually low. We have been watering some beds of salad plants, and new plantings of pak choi and rocket.
Squash variety and maturity
A recent question was “My butternut squash plants have loads of flowers but no fruit?”.
There are two reasons.
- They must have been sown too late, because the flowering time is early summer not late summer.
- They are butternut, always slow to mature.
For early ripening I recommend Uchiki Kuri, good for anyone in a cooler climate. They taste good too. While for the utmost flavour it’s hard to do better than Crown Prince. It matures later than Kuri, but not too late. We are harvesting a few now, where needing space for new plantings.
Or they do not hurt from being left on the ground with nothing under them, especially if some leaves are still green. Mildew is not a problem, as you can see in this new video.
What information is in which product
The Calendar gives you specific dates for sowing seeds in 2021 through spring, summer and autumn. Sowing dates are the main detail, and transplant dates should then be correct when you follow these sowing dates. See below too.
More details about sowing and growing are in the Diary and No Dig Organic Home and Garden books (double offer). They also have information about starting out no dig, making compost, spacing and picking. NDOHG also has a lot about storing and some of Steph’s recipes and potions.
My new book contains much detail about the no dig method, including its history. I give details of all my trials here and what they reveal. Then how to identify and mulch (cover) weeds, how to make compost, and how to use it. Plus there are cropping plans for one bed, and small spaces.
The online courses expand on all of the books, with extra information and many videos, which are not available anywhere else. Deeper understanding allows you to push the limits, with more success. Enter coupon allotment20 at checkout for a £20+Vat discount on any course.
Sowing now, and last outdoor transplanting
The main sowing now is salads for winter, to transplant under cover in October. Also you can sow garlic from now, for harvests in early summer. This year after an early spring, I harvested outdoors garlic on 11th June.
Garlic, like onions and leeks, is not harmed by frost. I don’t know what it’s lowest temperature is, for surviving, but know that it grows well in Scotland, especially hardneck types.
From sowings made earlier, we can still transplant a fair few vegetables. They include spring onions, cabbages to crop in spring, lettuce, lambs lettuce or corn salad, land cress, Claytonia, and oriental leaves.
We transplanted pak choi on 8th September and I am pleased to say there is no slug damage, yet! No dig with compost mulch really reduces slug damage. I keep a mesh cover over, against flying insects.
My second online course has much about propagation, sowing dates, spacing and winter vegetables.
No dig nutrient retention and compost amount
Nitrate pollution of groundwater happens less with no dig, than with disturbed and tilled soils whose biology is compromised. See this article in Craftmanship by Tom Willey, an organic farmer of four decades.
You can also see the abundance in this drone photo of 13th September. 95% of beds have received no compost since 2019, and no feeds or fertiliser. There is clearly good nutrient retention, and availability.
For maximum growth all year, I recommend compost applications of 3cm annually to beds, about 60% of the surface area. A Czech scientific study quoted in Tom Willey’s article confirms the value of spreading this amount.
On one bed they applied 100T/ha, equivalent to my 3cm per year on beds. They discovered how this “high” application rate actually decreased the concentration of mineral nitrogen in the soil eluate in both periods. Biomass of the test plant was slightly higher too.
We just started the year’s fourth heap since April. I expect to fill it by late October and then make one more heap, a good six tomes of wonderful compost. That’s about two thirds of my total needs, and serves to grow about £25,000 worth of vegetables.
We added four pages to the new Calendar, so it has a fair amount of information about no dig and seeds, as well as the sowing dates, and beautiful photos. For a lovely photo tour of Homeacres, see this blog by photographer Julie Skelton.
We are now selling it in a double pack at discounted price, with my new book about No Dig.
Vegetables early autumn
Salads continue to offer regular harvests, including lettuce, endive, and hearts of chicory. We took our first pick since April of salad rocket and mustards. A superfine grade of mesh cover has kept most flea beetles away.
My autumn cabbage are hearting ahead of time. They don’t stand for more than 2-4 weeks, before splitting.
Pyralid poisoning of dahlias
This comment shows how serious the problem is, and how difficult it is to receive help from official sources.
It’s from JAG sixtyfive on You Tube, 4th September 2020
As an Exhibition Dahlia grower, the hobby has seen a lot more of this poisoning this season across many top growers’ plots all over the country…..Clearly the problem is still occurring and perhaps increasing, from my experiences within the hobby and my discussions with other dahlia growers….All I get from either manure or Soil conditioning suppliers is ‘we do everything we can to ensure our products are safe’…Sorry, these half baked attempts at reassurance is simply not good enough…We need 100% guarantees, and the chains of supply all the way down to be tightened…Preferable would be a complete banning of such pyralid products…Both clopyralid and aminopyralid.
Technical information about pyralids, by Peter Schoenen You Tube 11.09.20
Pyralid is an “Auxin-herbicide”, it has a similar structure to the natural hormone/ growth factor Auxin. The plants take pyralid up and the plants own Auxin gets replaced. But because agrochemists have built an analogue to Clor-atoms in its structure, pyralid is acting wrong, the plant is depleted by its own hormone and gets a poison instead. That is why the top of plants are crumbling. Another consequence of putting Clor in the ringstructure of Indol/ benzene is that the molecule gets very stabilised. The same synthetic stabilisation of molecules by Clor you find in PCH, dioxin and other Clor-hydrocarbons. Dioxin with 4 Cl-atom has a so strong structure that it needs 1500 Celsius to break it down. I am not surprised that pyralid stays a long time in the environment may be for many years!!!
I was told that… !
“it’s necessary to change the soil in the glasshouse each year”. So much bad advice involves unnecessary labour. Soil does not harbour spores of tomato disease, although there may be some pests. Nonetheless, check this photo.
“You should burn blighted material”. This is nonsense, and such a waste. I have some blight on outdoor tomatoes, and put the diseased material on my compost heap. Blight spores do not survive in compost.
“Cucumbers like humidity, so wet leaves regularly”. Instead, I have found it good to water roots only, after midsummer when downy (not powdery) mildew can be a problem.