Spring: September in the Garden

We live in a cool temperate climate. We get a lot of frost in winter, and often times (or so I’m told, but we have only lived here for 18 months) late frosts in spring, but hot summers. Autumn 2015 was pretty warm until May. Then it has felt relentlessly very cold, including as I type this.  This year was the first year I’ve been planting up my food garden, so I’m extra keen to see signs of spring on its way. Here’s what’s happening at the end of September.

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Garlic

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I planted four varieties of garlic from the Diggers Club this year. I avoided cream garlic varieties as they didn’t do well at all last year. All the garlic I bought new has grown really well in my no-dig beds. The cloves I planted from my home-grown bulbs last year is not going well. I twas already shooting and a bit soft when I planted, so perhaps left it too late. No signs of much anticipated scapes yet (the flower stem and umbils which grow on hardneck varieties).  Check out the scapes pesto recipe here – there are many recipes, but it is hard to go wrong as it is absolutely wonderful. No need to add parmesan, but any nuts and a little lemon juice do wonders.

Kale and Herbs

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Kale planted as seedlings in autumn just beginning to go to seed. Bed full of parsley seeds from a plant I let flower, and simply sprinkled the seeds over the bed. For a plant I find hard to germinate in punnets, it sure did ok neglected in the soil. I think the trick is it needs light to germinate perhaps, like celery?

Peas

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Peas are starting to take off and upwards. They’re all flowering. I’ve planted Greenfeast, which was outstanding (flavour wise anyway) last year. My first pea found forming around the spring equinox.

Broad Beans

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Broad beans all flowering and about 70-80cm high. Rows probably too close together. I see some spots on the leaves of a few, which is probably due to lack of air circulation. I planted crimson, Aqua Dulce, and chocolate flowering variety.  No pods forming yet.

Fennel

IMG_8115My first attempt at fennel. Accidentally sowed too late in autumn. Germinated, did nothing most of winter (but neither did it die with the frost) and is now coming along. ok.

Turnips

IMG_8110Been pulling out a few turnips here and there since first week of September. Golf ball shaped ones and now another variety, with a purple tinge, are maturing too.

Going to Seed

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Rocket and Tuscan Kale. Identified my first hover fly on the rocket the other day.

Winter-Planted Perennial Vegetables

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Rhubarb and purple artichokes planted this year showing good growth.

Berries

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Newly planted goji berry leafed up in winter, and is looking good now. Its neighbour to the south was a lot more leggy and I’ve just pruned it back in the hope of causing a stronger bush, as it had flopped right over.

Fruit Trees

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All these trees I planted this year – the evergreens in autumn, and the deciduous in winter. First shoots on dwarf (M26 rootstock) apples trained as cordons. Dwarf Goldmine peach has flowered (with a little leaf curl I think). Herds Mammoth loquat on quince rootstock putting on growth. No shoots on grape vines, Fantasia Nectarine, China Flat peach or Stella cherry yet. No growth on feijoas yet, and perhaps a little bug and frost damage too.

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And there are flower buds on my Duke of Clarence and Sturmer Pippin apple cordons. I’ve been told to pick off any fruit forming at the tips like this, so the plant can put its energy into growing. Although I might keep fruit if it forms further down the cordon to encourage fruiting spurs.

Spring-Flowering Companion Plants

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Borage in the strawberry plot. It’s said to be a good companion plant for strawberries. It’s large and weedy, so perhaps better nearby but not sharing a bed with the berries. The bees love it. It dies back in winter and appears out of nowhere, unstoppable.

Preparing for Summer

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My mini greenhouse with seed trays. Quickest to germinate has been broccoli, rapa, lettuce and endive. Followed by marjoram. No sign of tomatoes, cape gooseberries, alpine strawberries or mini rockmelon. Might be too cold even in the greenhouse?

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