October mid month – chilli & tomato plants overwinter, new bed no dig, winter salads, harvests now, saving basil seed

We have been clearing and planting under cover, making many harvests and filming for videos plus TV.

I enjoyed working with the makers of Croatian programme Vrtlarica, about healthy living and food growing. No dig is becoming popular in Croatia and the presenter Kornelija Benyovsky has been appreciating no dig in her garden. See below for Nino’s aerial view of Homeacres.


Calabrese is in full flow and leeks are now cropping, parsnips are ready but it feels too warm! Salad leaves have new flavours and colours all the time, and Chinese cabbage Scarvita (F1) is striking. Dill, chervil and coriander are strong growers at this time.

Celeriac have swelled a lot recently, especially Prinz which is bulkier than Giant Prague. However the first Septoria damage is now happening to leaves, and I know of no remedy: the leaves turn brown, but the roots are fine, except they stop growing.

Croatian TV Vrtlarica & new bed

I have had in mind to create some new beds, so they filmed us laying cardboard on the pasture, then dropping 10cm/4in compost on top. After that we planted lettuce, rocket, spinach, chervil and Claytonia.

The planting was to show TV viewers how you can plant into a new bed, but it’s actually rather late in the season!

No dig + trial

Even after 35 years of doing it, no dig amazes me for the ease of cropping, with so little weeding.

The two trial beds continue to show differences that are sometimes hard to explain: celery is larger on the dig bed, while Chinese cabbage next to it is bigger on no dig. Kaibroc on no dig is twice the size and a much darker colour, while mustards are similar. Kaibroc is a fast but small-heading calabrese.

Carrots from the dug bed are fatter, shorter and with more inclination to fork. And always, there are many less weeds on the no dig, as in the garden generally.

New video

It’s the season for bean and squash harvests, and perhaps you have already. In the UK this year, most of us will not have a frost until November, so remaining beans can continue to dry in situ for a while. I have harvested more beans than last year, helped by the damp summer.

Saving tomato sideshoots

Any time now, if you still have tomato plants and want to save them over winter as seedling

offspring, you can pull off a sideshoot and pop it into a pot of moist compost. Keep it frost free over winter, often they grow too tall, say on a house windowsill.

In late winter I either pinch out the tops to let a sideshoot become the new top, and/or I repot the top 4-5in/10-12cm to make a new plant.


Courses have been going superbly with lovely feedback. The abundance of Homeacres garden and Steph’s lunches serve to send participants home with busy brains and full stomachs.

There is so much demand for courses here that I even posted one for January, and it already has nine bookings. Next spring’s dates are here.

Seed saving, basil – Plant saving, chilli

I had not tried this before, allowing a sweet basil plant to flower and set seed, in the greenhouse. It became enormous and sprawled over a fair area.

In early October I twisted the whole plant out of the ground, cut off the driest stems and rubbed out their seeds. It took a while to do this, and see the resulting tiny seeds in the bucket

After pulling out any larger and heavier pieces of plant, I winnowed the seeds in a light breeze. Debris flew off and a clean sample remains.

To save chilli plants, take a final harvest and then prune hard, leave just 1-2in/3-5cm of green stems or branches. Water very little over winter, keep on a windowsill frost free, the plant goes dormant until spring.

Summer ends, winter begins – salads undercover

It’s time to finsish plantings. If you have space on the greenhouse staging, consider filling mushroom boxes with multipurpose compost and planting a few rocket, mustards, lettuce etc, pic leaves through winter as in this video.


The full moon of 5th October was a very late Harvest moon, extremely bright for once (no cloud!). I experimented with photos on high ISO and they are lighter than I expected, but suspect the camera’s light sensors affected that!

The new moon of this Thursday 19th could usher in some very unsettled weather. Lately it has often been damp, but without much serious rain; as ever the wether keeps us guessing.

Voles – new topic on the forum

The common vole, Micrototus arvalis is becoming more common! and if you are unlucky enough to have them, you will know their potential for damage.. Steph has them in four beds where she works and all the beetroot are gone, most squash are gnawed then have rotted. See the link to the first vole topic for more details.


I was asked for advice on a heap not heating, it sounded like there were too many long pieces making large air spaces, so I suggested some serious chopping. This was his reply:

“By way of follow up – I emptied the compost bin, chopped everything large down to 6” as suggested. Added some layers of comfrey leaves as I packed it all down and added a sprinkle of water between layers where it was a bit dry.

Took a temperature reading today –

Now 45-55 C!!!”

No dig potatoes and parsnips

A nice answer to how these work in no dig, by tidybeard on the forum 9.10.17

“This my third year of no dig as well, on a heavy clay soil. I planted first and second earlies 4 inches deep in three rows along a 5ft wide bed. The bed had been top dressed with 2 inches of home made compost the previous autumn. I earthed up by adding more compost along the rows to form ridges. I was able to harvest by pulling up the plants and using my hands to collect the tubers. I also found that the odd one needed help from a trowel, but it was a very easy harvest with very little disturbance below the compost. I then levelled out the bed with a rake and planted my leeks. When I was still digging I could hardly get a fork into the ground at harvest time it was so dry and hard. I find now that it is nearly always moist under the top dressing.”


I have been marvelling at these beauties, and found this on the internet:

“This variant form of cauliflower is the ultimate fractal vegetable. Its pattern is a natural representation of the Fibonacci or golden spiral, a logarithmic spiral where every quarter turn is farther from the origin by a factor of phi, the golden ratio.”

Romanesco cauliflower four months after sowing

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