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This month in the garden - 2019

September in the garden

September brings a welcome change of season and we can really start getting stuck in to the winter garden. It you haven't yet sown seeds for winter veg, do so now. Kale, cabbages, sprouting broccoli, cauliflowers, lettuce, Asian greens, coriander can all go into seed trays. Peas, carrots, turnips, swedes, fennel and radishes can be direct sown. Pumpkins and melons will still be bearing fruit and can be harvested and stored. You should still be harvesting peppers, chillies, aubergines, tomatoes and beans too. Chillies, peppers and aubergines can be overwintered in the ground in areas that don't have too much frost. When the plants stop producing fruit, trim them back to about a third and mulch them. If they survive through the winter they will sprout leaves in the spring and will fruit early. Plant green manures in the gaps as summer veg comes out. It can be turned under later, before flowering, to add fertility to the soil.

September is one of the busiest months in the life of the seed saver. By now all those summer veg seeds should be well on the way to being processed, labelled and stored so you should be ready for the SEEeD (Semillas Espanolas Ecologicas en Deposito) annual seed swap in the indoor market in Orgiva on Thursday 19th September, 10am till 1pm. This yearly event is a great place to meet other growers, discover new varieties to grow in your garden, swap growing tips and knowledge and to have a good chat about all that is going on in the world of seeds. With all the talk in the media about climate change and extinction rebellion, why not join the front line in extinction prevention and take on an endangered heritage variety to save?

SEEeD meets every first Wednesday of the month in Las Torcas in Tablones from 10am till 1pm. Come and join the group to learn from each other about seed saving and processing. Our fantastic open source seed cleaning machine is available in Las Torcas for all to use. It was lovingly crafted for us out of recycled materials by two volunteers. (Thank you Paul and Frederick) It operates with a donated hoover. The machine is genius and makes light work of the often tedious task of cleaning small fiddly seeds. Our latest large batch of lettuce was transformed in minutes!

TIP: Runner beans are perennial in warm climates. Leave the roots in the ground over the winter and as long as you don't have too much frost where you are, the plants will sprout again in spring.

Reader's Question: I saved some pumpkin seeds last year and grew them this year. The plants were amazingly big and strong looking but the pumpkins were not all the same. What happened?
You have cross pollinated two varieties. The strong healthy plants would give you a clue that cross pollination has taken place. This is a phenomenon called “hybrid vigour” and is the energy that is harnessed by seed companies that produce F1 seeds. This topic has been long debated by scientists and Charles Darwin experimented around the subject which is still not fully understood. Your pumpkins will have belonged to one of four families cucurbita pepo, maxima, moschata or mixta. If you grew two varieties from the same group, they will, with the help of the bees, have been cross pollinated and that is why you saw diversity in the F1 generation. The good news is that pumpkins don't cross between groups, only within, so you can still grow four different pumpkins, one from each group, and save pure seeds. Don't look at your pumpkins as a seed saving failure. Rather see them as the first step on a plant breeding project.

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