It’s been a glorious harvest time with nature in full flow, filling gardens, fields and hedgerows with a bountiful supply of produce, both cultivated and wild.
At this time of year, it’s easy to start dreaming of a life of self-sufficiency. When you can walk through your garden picking raspberries, apples, blackberries and pulling up sweet and crunchy beetroot; when you can snip off fresh salad leaves and flavour everything with aromatic herbs, it makes you feel at one with nature, a sort of healthier, worthier, more rooted version of yourself!
In fact, nature is so generous at this time of year, it can be hard to keep up with it. Luckily, at nursery there are always lots of hungry mouths to feed and it’s wonderful to see the children making the connection between growing and eating.
We have just harvested our corn on the cob with the help of the children and, unfortunately, some unwanted help from squirrels. It was a reminder that timely harvesting is necessary if you want to get there before the pests.
To do list
- In milder areas there’s another week or two to sow ‘green manure’ to enrich the soil and lock in the nutrients.
- Have another purge on slugs and snails lurking in plants and their round, translucent eggs which lie in clumps in and around planting beds.
- Keep weeding around vegetables so that they don’t need to fight for nutrients, which are sparser in the winter.
- Dig up withering tomato plants and harvest any remaining unripe fruits, placing them in a paper bag with a banana which helps them to ripen by releasing ethylene gas. Save the tomato compost for potting other plants or spread it over your beds.
- There’s still time for onion sets and garlic to go in, but make sure the bulbs are firm and mould free, not past their prime.
- Remove the tops of old pea and bean plants and add them to your compost, then dig the roots back into the soil to retain their natural nitrogen fertiliser.
- Tidy up established strawberry plants, removing discoloured leaves and remaining runners, allowing the remaining plants to conserve energy.
- Sow overwintering broad beans in their eventual position, covering with fleece or cloches if you are in a colder region. Milder areas can still support the sowing of carrots and peas in cold frames.
- Order new fruit trees and cane fruits and prepare the ground for their arrival.
- Sow basil seeds in pots for growing inside on a sunny windowsill. Dig up and pot clumps of mint and parsley in fresh pots, bringing them inside for a winter supply.
The Royal Horticultural Society, www.rhs.org.uk