October 2021 Autumn arrives with transplanting more vegetables, seed saving, mulching weeds in asparagus, saving time
September was lovely here, with gentle weather and abundant growth. We have continued to transplant outside, including spinach, spring onions, mustards, chervil and spring cabbage. In the greenhouse now are seedlings to transplant under cover once we clear summer vegetables.
The new area continues to impress,. We took a huge squash harvest from ground that was thick weeds and grass in February> Squash plants went in through black plastic, and now we have sowed that area with mustards, mostly as cover crop/green manure. They are killed by frosts below -5C/23F.
The garden remains fully planted for a while yet
Transplant quickly, effectively
Learning to use a long handled dibber speeds up the key process of transplanting. This enables you to maintain a full garden more easily and quickly than when sowing seeds direct for example.
My new dibber sold out rather quickly. This gave us the chance to add spacing intervals to the new stock, arriving mid October. See how I use a dibber in this recent You Tube video.
Another aspect of this is to pop in small plants, grown in the compact module cells of my CD60 trays, which mean you need less space for propagation. Also it’s easier to dib just small holes, to receive transplants which are ready to pop in just three weeks from sowing, as you see with the spring onions below.
Saving time and effort through skilful work
My new book is nearing completion, both of writing and editing. It has been a challenge to find time, and it’s a topic close to my heart, teaching better use of time, energy and resources. The photos below give examples to the topics covered.
No dig skills and results, more freedom
Mulching is the biggest timesavers, and is so good for soil life, learn more in my no dig book (on offer with the 2022 Calendar) and no dig online course. See the change in just six months with the two photos below.
A lovely result of no dig soil health, is the reduced need to rotate plantings. Grow more of what you wish to eat!
Comparison of harvests
Our summers are scarcely hot enough to ripen sweet peppers, and this year there were no coloured fruits until September. It’s a meagre harvest for much time and effort – chilli peppers give more harvests, and earlier.
By comparison, cucumbers crop regularly from early July to early October. I pick the cordon plants of Carmen F1 every day through summer, for harvests of consistent length and quality, sold to shops in Bruton mostly.
Seed saving skills
From the beetroots, carrots and onions we planted as roots/bulbs in March, this is an example of the beetroot seed harvest from one plant.
You need to grow at least six plants in order to have a large pool of genes for cross pollination. This means a lot of space in the garden, and a lot of seed. It’s the first time I’ve saved seed from beetroot and I’m not sure of the quality in terms of root harvest. I am sure that germination is excellent, judging by all the beetroot seedlings growing where the seeding plants were!
Learn more about seeds, seed saving and propagation in this module of my Growing Success course.
New no dig food garden at RHS HQ
Sheila Das manages all edible gardens at Wisley, as well as the education of students and apprentices. Since 2015 she has worked tirelessly to bring new understandings of soil, principally no dig, into the gardens and curriculum.
The new garden is testament to her efforts, and I am proud to have been her mentor for the no dig part of it. Wisley has seen quite a transformation and is worth a visit. I am giving a talk about no dig there, on 16th October as part of their Taste of Autumn event.
Continue to keep your plot as tidy as possible, to reduce habitat for slugs and snails. This includes keeping any edges as short as you can. Turn any compost heaps, just once, usually 6-8 weeks after adding the last materials. This is not obligatory, but improves quality.
Asparagus leaves are starting to go yellow and by the end of October you can cut the stems at ground level, then spread compost. If there are a lot of weeds, including say couch grass and buttercups, you could put cardboard on top of the weeds firstly, then an inch or so of compost on top of that. By April, the card is decomposed and spears can grow through.
The main sowing in October is garlic, then broad beans at month’s end, see my Sowing Calendar for more details.
You can now buy guides of my video selections, covering topics such as no dig, making compost and how to grow selections of vegetables. There is an AI search facility for every video, and you can have subtitles in your chosen language.
The Open day raised £3820, half for Send a Cow, half for Promise Works. Thanks to those of you who bought tickets to attend, and it was great to meet you.
We installed a Browning Recon Force Elite HP4 sensor camera at the edge of the new area. Mostly it’s filming foxes!