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This month in the garden - 2021

September in the Garden

September brings a new beginning, a change of pace to the garden. The summer harvests slow down, the nights cool and we are grateful for the rain, when in comes. Aubergines and chillies will continue to bear fruit as will some tomatoes and beans. Keep going with the processing to ensure you have plenty of chutneys and sauces to eat throughout the winter. Harvest pumpkins for storage; sweet potatoes and yacon can stay put for another month or so. Where the plants are finished, start clearing out the beds to get ready for winter. The spent plants provide valuable organic material to add to the compost pile. Add compost or manure to the beds where heavy feeders are going to be planted. Select which poles are in good enough condition to use again next year.

Carrots, parsnips, radish, spinach, beetroot, fennel and turnips can be direct sown. Leeks, onions, celery and lettuce can be sown in seed trays and the brassica plants that were sown last month – broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower - can go into the ground if they are big enough and more can be sown in seed trays. Start planning where peas, garlic and Ahab's will be planted next month and any beds that are not going to be used until the spring can be sown with green manures to dig in later. Cut comfrey leaves and add them to the compost to accelerate it or make a feed with them in a barrel.

Now is a good time to assess the summer garden. Was it too big? Or not big enough? Did you manage to keep up with harvesting, watering and weeding? Did you have any waste or were you able to use all your produce? Which varieties did you like and which ones are not worth growing again? Did your earlier planted cucumbers fare better than your later planted ones? Take notes now so you will have valuable information with which to plan next years summer garden. Your own note book is your best gardening companion.

Save seeds from your most successful plants and label them with the variety name, the year and any other useful information. Plants evolve and adapt to their environmental conditions and store all the new information in their seeds to pass on to the next generation. Your own seeds saved in your own micro climate will give you the best results. We can also swap seeds with our friends and neighbours so its always wise to save more than we need for our own use. Excess seeds can also be donated to SEEeD (Semillas Ecologicas Españolas en Deposito), our local seed bank. SEEeD´s annual autumn seed swap will be held in October this year so look out for the details of the time and place and come along. With such a narrow choice of varieties available commercially, it´s wonderful to see the diversity available to us when the gardening community gets together for a seed swap. If you do rely on commercial seeds for some of your crops, look into ordering seeds from smaller seed companies selling open pollinated seeds. They often have a wider range of varieties, many of which are not widely available and as the seeds are open pollinated, we are able to save seeds from them and keep them in circulation. So much of our crop diversity is being lost as the seed giants focus on fewer and fewer profitable varieties. SEEeD holds monthly practical workshops in a garden demonstrating how to save good seeds. Come along to one to learn tips and techniques for saving your own seeds and to meet fellow growers.

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