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This month in the garden - 2018

September

... is the time to start the transition from summer garden to winter garden. If you haven't got your brassica plantlets started yet, start them from seed now in pots or seed trays. Plant more lettuces and other salad leaves in seed trays too.

It's tricky at this time of year because the tomatoes, aubergines and peppers are still going strong so we don't want to clear them out just yet to make way for the winter veg so space can become an issue. Pumpkins can be harvested and stored. Peppers and tomatoes can be given a feed to encourage them to keep producing. Make the most of the abundant harvests by bottling tomatoes and making chutney. Start thinking too about where the peas, habas and garlic are going to go in October and start working towards getting those beds ready. Parsnips, radishes, spinach and coriander can all be planted now as well as carrots and potatoes. Prepare the brassica beds with manure or compost. They are heavy feeders and will appreciate plenty of organic material.

SEEeD (semillas espaňolas ecologicas en deposito) will be holding their autumn seed swap in the indoor market in Orgiva on Thursday 27th September from 10am till 2pm. The event is a great opportunity to meet other gardeners and seed savers and exchange vegetable herb, and flower seeds. There is always an array of common, rare, unusual and local varieties on offer and a wealth of information about growing methods and seed saving techniques from local growers. Bring your spare seeds along to swap and even if you don't have any seeds to swap come and see what's on offer in the seedbank. The SEEeD collection includes 300 varieties of tomatoes and 200 chilli varieties as well as unusual aubergines, pumpkins, purple carrots and leafy greens of many sorts and more. The bank strives to maintain every variety that is donated but more growers are desperately needed to grow, multiply and return seeds to the bank. If you think you may be able to take a variety or two on to grow in your garden and return seeds to the bank, then do come to the event or get in touch through the website. Seed saving is the most important task for gardeners to do now that the giant seed companies are consolidating all the small and family run seed companies into their mega corporations. An alarming number of varieties have been lost over the recent past and not only our growing choices but our food choices become narrower and narrower with every company take over. Many varieties that were previously commercially available get dropped from the European seed list as companies concentrate their efforts on the most profitable varieties. These are geared towards industrial farming methods and the old favourite garden varieties get lost. You can help your local seedbank to save our indigenous varieties.

Tip: Dig fish heads and skins into your cabbage beds for really giant heads.

Reader's Question: Last year I saved some seeds from my climbing French beans. When I went to plant them in Spring, they were full of holes and there were dead weevils in the envelope. How can I prevent this from happening again this year?
Bean weevils lay their eggs in the bean flowers and immature pods.That's why you don't see them when you harvest your bean seeds. They actually mature inside the bean and then eat their way out. You really don't want these little creatures in your seed store, they can devastate your collection. The best way to deal with them is to freeze all your pea, bean and okra seeds before you store them. The seeds must be fully dry before you freeze them or the germ will die. To check if they are dry enough, hit one seed with a hammer. If it squashes, it's not dry enough. If it shatters, it's good, so freeze the rest for 5 days or a week.

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