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September 24, 2023
Deeper into autumn, late September 2023

On 10th October, the devil spits on hedgerow blackberries. What does this mean?
It's because there is no longer enough light for photosynthesis to make any reasonable amount of sugars in fruit. Ripening is not from sun shining on fruit.


Ripening is from sunlight being synthesised by leaves. Some of it ends as sugars in fruits and leaves too. That's why it's best to keep some leaves on your tomatoes, until 10th October!


Then pick all tomatoes, and they can finish ripening in your house, out of sunlight. See more about ripening tomatoes on the plants, in this new short video.

Find more seasonal tips in my equinox newsletter.

24th September polytunnel plants with all growth and fruit near the top, two weeks to go

Sow now or soon

Mizuna, mustards, salad rocket now. Either in modules or direct.

Cereals for grain - I am sowing wheat and rye. Either in modules or direct.

Garlic now or soon, directly into dibbed holes.

Equinox is a fine time to make first plantings of garlic, yet also there is no rush. My best outdoor harvests in June were from plantings of 10th October. This later planting works well after clearing summer beans. And you can spread the annual dose of compost on top of newly planted garlic.
It's good to plant cloves from your own harvest, even if the leaves were rusty.
Plant under cover to have less rust on leaves next spring.

For beds coming empty, and if you have no plan to plant more vegetables, sow white mustard Sinapis alba. It's a green manure or cover crop. Other such options are broad beans, peas, and phacelia which are all easy to remove without digging, or will be killed by frost.

Dibbing holes to plant garlic, with alternate rows of broad beans for cover not to eat

Spinach

This is a vegetable for every season except summer. My two dates for sowing true spinach are late February up to spring equinox for spring harvest. Then August for harvests that can extend from now until May.
During summer, spinach wants to flower.

I harvest plants by removing outer leaves, not cutting across the top. This gives rapid regrowth until November. During winter sometimes a few plants die and from those that survive, the harvest is small but very sweet. That's because leaves use sugars as antifreeze.

Spinach picked and unpicked, four weeks since transplanting, celeriac Prinz behind

Kale

Another fantastic leaf harvest for autumn. Then less abundant in winter, when growth becomes very slow.
If kale plants survive winter, you can have decent harvests of new shoots like mini broccoli, from March until May.

My two favourite varieties are Cavolo Nero, and dazzling blue which has flatter leaves with purple stems.

Cavolo Nero early 23rd September, sown May and transplanted June after potatoes

Slugs and weeds

A wet summer here has resulted in high numbers of both. We manage slugs by giving minimal habitat. Notice there are no wooden sides to new beds in the photo below. We keep an edge mown and tidy, use compost for mulch not straw or hay.

No dig means there are many ground beetles and toads, eating slugs and their eggs. See this page of my site for advice.

18th September, after squash harvest front left, we removed the black plastic and made new beds with 40cm, 16in paths and 1.2m, 4ft beds

For weeds, no dig helps again thanks to not disturbing the weed seeds in soil. The soft surface of compost makes removal easy, and best pull them when small, it's easier. Or hoe when very tiny. More advice on weeds here.

Keep paths weeded as well, it's easier than you think once you have been through the first year of using cardboard on existing weeds. New ones are infrequent.

Harvests and storage

It's harvest season, what to do with them all?

With healthy soil such as you have thanks to no dig, vegetables store much better than shop-bought ones, simply in a cool shed for example. No dig makes plants healthy, and us too, see my chat with Dr Eric Berg.

We are converting cabbages such as the lovely Filderkraut, into kraut, see this video. You can 'kraut' many other vegetables, which turns them into kimchi!

Evening of 19th September as the light faded, much of this is fresh from the garden, very fresh thanks to rain falling

A few vegetables store best in dry air, such as in the house. I even line the south facing ledge of my conservatory windows with squash all winter,

Kuri squash store nicely like this, see also garlic and onions hanging and bean pods drying before shelling

Small garden

Summer rain has helped to counteract the neighbour's hedge and tree roots pulling moisture from the further end of my 25m2 small garden. Harvests are 86kg, 194lb so far this year, see the recent video for more details.

Mid September, since when the tomatoes have finished, we cut the roots carefully so as to leave the spinach undisturbed

Open days

We had a fantastic day on 3rd September. Lovely weather and 510 visitors, £4000 donated to charity.

Next years dates are 19th May 1-5pm for the village open gardens, and 1st September 9.30am-4.30pm for my exclusive one.

Julia and Nicola manned the shop, we sold a lot of books, module trays, dibbers and trowels

Talks, courses out and about

I'm giving a no dig talk at the garden museum in London on 27th October, and a course in Edinburgh 25th November.

On 2nd and 3rd March, I speak at a new farm centre in Madrid. Details to follow.

After my talk at Worthy Earth festival near Basingstoke, a small festival yet a big crowd for the talk.

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