September 2021 pests, propagation, transplant and interplant, tomato, cucumber, bindweed
After some dry summers recently, when we dreamed of having more rain, this summer we had welcome rain and growth has been abundant. And the other result is slugs, snails and late blight, especially on tomato plants – see my new Small Garden video for details of those.
At least we have had steady summer warmth and almost all vegetables have profited. One tends to focus on the negative because problems need to be sorted, but growth of vegetables and flowers is mostly excellent. It has been good weather for transplanting and interplanting too.
I look forward to meeting some of you next Saturday 4th September, when we have open morning 09.30 to 12.30, and open afternoon, 14.00 to 16.30, as ticketed events in aid of charity. There are some places still available for both times.
I was interviewed recently by Lewis of Somerset Stories and you can hear more about my life with no dig in this new podcast
Problems and solutions
There is always an answer, and many possible strategies. No dig, using covers at appropriate times, and sowing at best time help to ensure healthy growth, which reduces pest damage. Find more about sowing dates in my website timeline, and Calendar of best sowing dates. We offer deals on purchases of the Calendar with say my No Dig book.
In difficult moments I favour night sorties to reduce slug numbers, careful watering of indoor tomatoes to keep leaves dry + blight resistant varieties outside, and growth of alternative plants such as endives in late summer for salad leaves, since they do not succumb to root aphids.
Plant small for rapid establishment. As long as you have pushed compost firmly into the cells of module trays, seedlings can be popped out any time from one to three weeks after sowing.
“Don’t tell a plant it’s been moved”. Little transplants suffer less check. Healthy no dig soil helps, see the next section. Find out more in the spacing and transplanting module of my online Growing Success course.
Plants like companionship, so when setting any out at wide spacings you can often gain a free harvest by filling the space between. Use either plants which grow more quickly to harvest (leeks between celeriac), or whose pattern of growth does not interfere with the other plants (sweetcorn with squash).
Now in late summer many gardens are very full, meaning there are few new spaces for transplants or seeds. Therefore it’s good to find space between existing plants, which will finish cropping say within one month. Lettuce are the best example, even spring broccoli, also see ridge cucumbers below.
No dig helps because the healthy network of mycorrhizal fungi link new plants to the older ones. They do trades and work together in wonderful ways, see Dr Kris Nichols’ video.
Trials, nice growth
I love to run trials because they always teach something new. Discover more on my website Trials page.
One striking difference this year is the stronger growth of the dug bed, in my two bed trial. Harvests are still behind the no dig bed, but with a smaller difference the in previous years.
I suspect this comes from removing the wooden sides last December. Plants growing in the dug soil can now access help from fungal networks in bordering pathways.
It’s soon too late for sowing spinach to plant outside, but still you can sow mizuna, salad rocket, lambs lettuce/corn salad, chervil, coriander, Claytonia and land cress for outside planting.
For growing undercover, almost any salad plants are possible! Best sowing time is early September, then up to equinox for brassica salads which grow most quickly.
My new design of module trays are working well. They need only a small amount of compost, are economical on space, and plants pop out easily. You can buy them from Containerwise in the UK and The Farm Dream in Europe, who also sell some of my books and the Calendar. Containerwise may soon ship to the USA and Canada.
Pak choi transplants
Pak choi are often eaten by slugs. I want to encourage you to plant small, in beds with no wooden sides!
Using my wooden dibber saves backache, and is energy efficient from making a hole exactly the right size, just a little deeper than the module. Stems can always be below surface level.
A slow year, But it’s finishing better as long as you have no or minimal blight. See this video we made for Instagram, after I discovered blight on leaves in the polytunnel. It is however not calamitous on those plants, which are still cropping well.
Cucumbers and interplants
We have picked so many cucumbers, both under cover and outside. The outdoor ridge plants will soon finish, so we interplanted bulb fennel for October harvests.
Don’t worry about powdery mildew on leaves, it’s normal as plants age. Remove leaves if you wish, or not!
See more about growing cucumbers in my online lesson. The online lessons include unique videos not on You Tube.
Vegetable garden beauty
I so appreciate the beauty of food gardens, and just love the garden right now. The third dimension from May to October makes a nice difference, as well as the colours and vibrance of all plants.
It’s losing vigour here! The combination or mulching, no dig and regular removal means that new shoots are thinner.
Plus we have had nice amounts for adding to the compost heaps. See more about results from different heaps, in this video.
Homeacres courses keep selling out, and we posted a new date of 15th September.