September 18 easier watering no dig, plant and sow now, interplant, sweet pepper success

September looks dry for much of the UK: no dig means easier watering, see below. There are still plantings for outdoor veg and sowings for veg under cover.

August gave welcome rain at times, 85mm/3.4in here which is about average, while temperatures were a degree warmer than usual. There is still a large moisture deficit in the soil.


We did a watering test of dig and no dig soil. My word such a difference, so much better water reception by no dig soil. I did it again on the weekend course and everyone was amazed by the difference, from 12l can on each bed.

It’s now worth watering celeriac to help it swell: like celery it’s roots are near the surface. Also autumn salads, spinach, perhaps kale depending on soil condition.

New plantings/sowings outdoors are nearly finished

There is still time just for planting salad rocket, mustards, spinach, perhaps Chinese cabbage and pak choi. No dig makes this very quick: few weeds, no ground preparation, just dib holes and pop them in.

Also now, sow spring onion, spring cabbage.

  • Then next week salads to grow under cover such as lettuce (Grenoble Red is my preferred), spinach, land cress, chard, endive.
  • And the following week even up to 20th September, salad rocket, mustards and any other brassicas you fancy.


If you can find space between current crops, pop in new plantings. We are converting current lettuce beds to autumn salads, the photos show it.

Or, clear then plant

I ran out of room for new plantings of spinach and considered deleafing Kuri squash that were close to point of harvest, with drying necks and hard, coloured skin. Josh started cutting off leaves, then it was clear that almost all the Kuri squash could be harvested, with careful cutting. Now they are curing in the warmth of my conservatory, curing before winter.

  • Most winter squash are best left to ripen! This was exceptional because of needing space and because Kuri ripens so early.

Of the three beds’ harvests, the forked bed gave 12.73kg, the no dig bed with same compost gave 16.28kg and the no dig bed with cow manure compost gave 7.56kg. More details here of the Three Strip Trial. The cow manure bed has given excellent harvests of other veg.

Next we planted land cress sown 30th July, and Medania spinach sown 14th August.

Heat loving crops success

The amazing summer means I even have outdoor peppers (impressive enough) now ripening (impressive x 2!) and aubergines on the outdoor warm-bed are actually prolific (impressive x3) and already there was a ripe melon there (off the scale!).

Heat loving crops undercover

In the polytunnel, it has been easier than usual to enjoy coloured sweet peppers, and to have melons ripening with decent sugar content. If they ripen later in the autumn, the flavour may be less sweet and more like cucumber.

Green manure

This question on my mid August post:

Q As we are getting towards Autumn, what are your thoughts on green manure – and if you would use it – how would you use it/? (Obviously no digging it in in spring).

A  Through September I prefer to keep planting veg from spinach, kale, chard, spring onions, spring cabbage, salad rocket & mustard, to chervil, coriander, lambs lettuce and land cress. If you still have bare ground, sow white mustard (Synapsis alba) which is killed by -5C frost, or can be pulled out in February, perhaps hoed off in March.

Photos from 2014.

Tips for aminopyralid 

from Nell Baker email 4th August – I have not tried this:

Currently testing a new batch of manure, this time half the manure  has been water with yoghurt.   One batch was very warm so I  am hoping that is also a good sign.  In the past have found contaminated stuff does not heat up.   One sample was very cold.

It is my experience that  a 500 gm pot of yoghurt will decontaminated a 330 ltr compost bin of manure, about 4.5 wheelbarrow loads.    Add the yoghurt to water and pour over the pile on a warm morning.

I have some crimson clover seed and am going to trying testing with that, I am hoping the results will be quicker than broadbeans.    Crimson clover germinates in two days and is green in a week.

14 thoughts on “September 18 easier watering no dig, plant and sow now, interplant, sweet pepper success

  1. On the subject of green manures which are also edible and excluding the few wild plants also used both ways, in Germany it is advised to plant spinach lettuce and orach for their capacity to enhance the growth of their neighbours in the soil. Now it is also true that compost is much richer than these s kinds of plant excretions left in the soil and it could be better to use compost only instead of growing a green manure. In any case the above quoted green manures will also give an edible crop.

    There is also the habit of planting medicinal plants and particular flowers at the base of. fruit trees to protect them from parasites – the daisy family will repell coddling moth larvae from the soil. Traditionally garlic and horseradish as well as chamomile calendula and shepherd’s purse were put in the soil next to trees but I do not know which for what purpose. Not all of them together. I think that horseradish for fungal diseases from wet soil

  2. I did not know where to put this after reading about roof aphids – it is possible to use the liquid from cutting stinging nettles in its first 3 days of fermentation as an insecticide because the plants have an acid in the leaves that passes in water and remains active for 3 days only. Nettles are a growth stimulating plant and will give a flush of growth just like a high nitrogen fertiliser but I have not seen any weakening of the plants or spindly growth or anything like that after using it on the compost grown plants non diluted.

    Other plant slurries have different effects- marestail or horsetail is said to increase the plants resistance to fungal attacks due to its capacity to extract mainly silicium from the deep soil layers and it also gives a growth spurt

    And elder leaf slurry is used against mice as a deterrent

    Fruiting and sweetness of the fruits is said to come from potash so ashes and boking 14 in water increase this considerably – I have seen a few plants of tomato watered with slurry from boking 14 (which is very popular in France and sold everywhere nowadays) and the difference was really big. It is very good for encouraging citrus tree to be very productive in pots. Considering the low nutritient value of the mixtures sold for potting these days and the widespread advice that compost burns roots, it is no wonder that these potions have a strong effect on plants…

    Many other plants have been studied in this way as slurries applied to plants in cultivation and there is a whole book about this written by Bernard Bertrand

    Hope it helps with the root aphids,
    Green hours

  3. I make my own yogurt and strain it, resulting in a stash of whey. I am wondering if the whey would work to decontaminate the manure, or if you think it must be yogurt. If whey works, it would be a great use for it! Thoughts?

  4. sorry if this is old but the squash harvest got me thinking. I have a lovely crop of butternut squash and don’t know when to harvest them, 1 has been nicked already! they are still a little green but starting to turn white/orange in part. foliage still v green and healthy. If I pick them now will they ripen indoors or am I better to let them go orange on their stalks?

  5. Hi. With your Crown Prince yields are you stopping the vine (I presume this means nipping out the growing tip) or just leaving it as is? I ask because I have Anna Swartz still setting fruit. (I leave as is, then when I harvest the oldest fruit I add new compost along the vine’s path). Thanks.

    1. Winnieone, sometimes grassland gets sprayed with aminopyralid herbicide to kill broadleaved weeds such as thistles (to make better hay). When this pasture is cut and then made into hay and fed to horses the herbicide doesn’t break down in the horse’s gut and is passed into the dung. When this is spread on a plot the herbicide then kills or stunts our vegetables, which are also broad-leaved plants.

  6. Thanks for the info Rhys, sounds like a challenge growing in London this season, good point about insurance. The other positive about squash is that, once they have taken in position and all frost danger has passed, you can just let them do their thing til harvest time. Possibly reposition some of their trailing stems, but otherwise a really easy crop and you can focus on others.

    What variety of spud did you try for your main crop? Perhaps I got lucky, but Picasso has performed very satisfactorily for the last two years; plant the seed potato and earth up with loads of compost and then, bit like squash, do nothing til harvest time.

    Main lessons here have been related to the sun in the main. Fleece on top of bean leaves during strong sunshine will burn them, and mesh against second plantings of brassicas will protect against flea beetle in mid summer – both of which I found out by getting it wrong!

    Charles, from the photos you look to have about ten Kuri fruits in each collection basket, so I guess that’s two Kuri plants for each zone of your experimental strip?

    1. Potatoes are Desiree and Sarpo, but even the Estima and Kestrel 2nd earlies harvested late July were a bit scabby and relatively poor yields despite me mulching the soil through the heat of May, June and July. Both Desiree and Sarpo have done well for a few years, even with early summer drought, but this year it was August before it really rained and this year the rain was less than last year. Late planting means 20 weeks is mid September. Watering to bulk up begins now.

      I have only done two cuts of comfrey this year! Late start and then a drought. I could cut a third lot now, but wondering whether to bother.

  7. Out of interest, how many Red Kuri squash do you get per plant? I have 3 or 4 very good sized ones, looks like you get more?

    1. Hi Rhys, hope you are well. I’m like yourself; three to four large squash. Have you tried crown prince yet? Same again, but three to four absolutely huge squash! Both delicious tasting. Tris

      1. Not tried Crown Prince yet, Tris: this was first year of trying squash so I just did two Red Kuri, spaced 1 metre apart (using 2.5m * 1.5m bed), which has worked well. Corn grew well in same bed at one end and Red Alert tomato did well under the squash at the other end. Might be interesting to try all three as a UK Holy Trinity?

        Given the extreme heat and extreme drought, squash is insurance against poor potato yields – seems to prosper in climate which potatoes hate. No doubt a damp, cool summer would give bumper potatoes and poor to absent yields of squash.

        Only root crops, bush tomato, winter squash and corn have really thrived this summer. Celery will be ok, celeriac struggling, maincrop potato almost collapsed before August rain, beans have been a bust, leeks survived but grew relatively little, now being harvested as late summer crop before allium leaf miner can get at them.

        Another thing I have learned is that in drought, brambles spread underground emerging 1-2m away from hedge, emerging in beetroot and celeriac plants to create a new bush. Great fun trying to maintain the beetroot plants whilst digging out blackberry stems!

    2. Rhys, I find the number depends on how much room they have to roam, and make new roots as they go. We had five on some plants here, and I am always happy with four.
      As Tris says, four Crown Prince is a lot of squash, love it. Lat year I had 15 on two Crown Prince plants which ran a long way.

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