SEPTEMBER (EARLY AUTUMN) TO DO LIST
many ways this month can be regarded as the start of the new gardening
year. Now is a good time to take stock of the successes and failures of
this year and make plans to ensure that next year will be the best
ever. Also, if you are starting out from scratch you will have plenty
of time to prepare the ground whilst planning your dream
1. Remove thatch from
Lawns. This is a layer of dead grass and other debris .
Left in the lawn over the years it restricts air movement and can cause
problems with surface drainage, and encourage moss and other weeds to
colonise the lawn. This can be done with a rake, or hiring a
scarifier. The lawn will look a mess but will soon
recover. Aerate the lawn to relieve compaction with a
fork pushed into the ground, to a depth of 15 cm at 15-18 cm intervals
over the whole area. Top-dressing immediately after aerating
keeps holes open and revitalises the upper layer of soil. Use a
mix of three parts of sieved soil, two parts of sharp sand, and one
part garden compost. Spread a 1-2 cm layer over the lawn
and work it in with a stiff broom, or the back of a rake. It will
soon look good again.
2. Stop feeding shrubs and
trees in containers with general fertilisers, as if fed, they will
produce soft growth now which will be damaged in winter. One last
feed of rock potash will benefit them by ripening the wood, building up
their resilience to the rigours of winter.
Pot up prepared hyacinths and other bulbs such as 'Paper White'
narcissi for flowers at Christmas. If planting in bulb bowls that
have no drainage holes use bulb fibre; otherwise any potting compost
4. Harvesting - Top of the list has to be
onions and potatoes they need to be got out of the soil before the
cold, damp days of autumn arrive. They have completely the opposite
storage requirements. Onions must to be kept in the light and potatoes
need to be stored in the dark to prevent them from turning green, but
both have to be stored somewhere that will keep the frost out. Lift
main crop potatoes on a warm sunny day, and leave them on the surface
of the soil for an hour or two to dry out. Store undamaged ones
in paper sacks tied at the neck, in darkness. Lift
and dry any onions still in the ground, and bring them into a cool, dry
storage area before damp weather steps in. You'll know they are
ready to store when the skins become papery and they make a rustling
sound when handled.
5. Harvest apples and pears as
they become ready and pick the late season strawberries and raspberries
to keep them producing fruit. They will keep cropping right up until
the first frost.
6. Now we have shorter, cooler
days it is the perfect time to sow the seed of the Oriental vegetables.
They will germinate quickly and are hardy enough to withstand the cold
of winter and will provide a steady supply of fresh leaves well into
the Spring of next year Also make a sowing of hardy winter lettuce and
spinach. There is still time to sow an early variety of turnip to be
able to use the tops as greens.
pumpkins, marrows and squashes; leave them in the sun for several days
or put in a greenhouse if the weather is wet so that they can ripen and
dry off before putting them in a cool, dark place. They should
keep until well after Christmas.
cabbages sown last month can be planted 15 cm apart in rows 30 cm
apart. Harvest every other plant as spring greens, leaving the
others to heart up. Protect with netting or fleece.
Plant Autumn onion sets the sooner the better. Varieties to look
for are 'Radar' and 'Swift' Plant them 8 cm apart in drills deep
enough to just cover the tip of the sets. Apply a general organic
fertiliser now, and again in spring to boost their growth.
RECIPE OF THE MONTH (to get in practice for the show!)
Pear and Almond Tart
For the pears
1 vanilla pod, split
1 cinnamon stick
250g caster sugar
For the pastry
80g unsalted butter
130g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
Pinch of salt
1 egg yolk
1 tbs water
For the almond cream
125g softened unsalted butter
125g caster sugar
3 medium eggs
Apricot jam warmed with a little water
1 tbsp sliced almonds
the pears: pour 300ml of water into a large pan and add the vanilla
pod, cinnamon, and sugar. Bring to the boil, add the pears and
simmer for 20mins. Leave to cool then chop into slices.
the pastry: sift the flour and a pinch of salt onto the work surface
and make a well in the centre. Add the butter and sugar and
gently work together with your fingertips. Add the egg yolk and
gradually draw in the flour, adding a few drops of water as you
go. When all the flour has been incorporated, shape the dough
into a ball, but do not overwork it. Wrap the pastry in cling
film and refrigerate for 2 hours.
For the almond
cream: whisk the butter and sugar until pale, then add the ground
almonds. Whisk in the eggs one at a time and finally the rum.
the oven to 200C/180fan. Roll out the pastry on a floured surface
to about 3mm thick and use it line a greased 28cm flan tin. Prick
the pastry base with a fork, line it with greaseproof paper and fill
with baking beans, then bake blind for 20mins. Remove the paper
and beans and put the pastry back in the oven for another 5 minutes or
until the base has cooked but not taken on too much colour. Leave
the oven on.
Spoon the almond cream into the tart
base, then arrange the sliced, drained pears on top, with the pointed
ends towards the centre. Bake in the preheated oven for 40
mins. When the tart is cooked, warm some apricot jam with a
little water and brush it over the surface. Sprinkle the tart
with toasted sliced almonds and serve warm.
Dates for your Diary
Festival (with live band - guess who?) Sunday 23rd September from
12.00 at the Tea Hut in the Allotments. Do come along it’s great
fun to try the chillies, especially as it has been such a difficult
year for growing them. Please bring anything chilli
In Memory of Dorina Supit.