|Cara Potatoes 2011|
In the Vegetable Garden
All is not over in September, there are still harvests to bring in and there are still seeds to sow. There may be a nip of autumn in the air but you can get ahead this month by sowing the lettuce, Artic King (from Thompson & Morgan at http://www.thompson-morgan.com). You can also do one of the last sowings for Spinach Bordeaux; a colourful spinach with red veins and ornamental leaves that will make you smile in the cold months to come (from Sarah Raven Kitchen & Garden at http://www.sarahraven.com). During this month you should be bringing in the last of the maincrop potatoes, it is important to remember to make sure that you dig up all the potatoes and that you leave none of them in the ground. This is why it is always best to adopt a rotation model in your garden and that you never plant the same crop in the same place year in year out. If you miss any potatoes and they germinate next spring, just pull them up and compost them. If you have had the misfortune to be hit by blight then you are advised to burn all infected parts of the plant and not to plant any potatoes or outdoor tomatoes in the same soil for at least three years. Blight is a terrible virus born in humid and wet conditions; it will turn the green foliage of the potato, the haulm, in to black mush. A tell tale sign is often a white fungus around the black patches on the haulms and the smell cannot be mistaken, a damp and fetid smell of rot rather than die back. If you do get blight cut off the haulms, if you neglect to do so you will dig up potatoes that will be rotten, black and pungent. Never compost any plant material that is infected or you will end up spreading it around your plot.
You will be picking the last of your peas and you can cut these at ground level, leaving the nitrogen rich roots to rot down in your soil. The pea foliage can go into your compost and will rot down well over the winter months. In the greenhouse you will still be bringing in tomatoes, chillies and the last of the aubergines in an unheated greenhouse.
As your outside borders empty of vegetables you can sow a green manure, one of my favourites and hardiest is Hungarian Grazing Rye (from Garden Organic at http://www.organiccatalogue.com). A 112g bag of rye will happily cover seven square metres which you can cut back in spring of next year, leave to rot down and then dig in a few weeks later.
In the Flower Garden
Bulb season is upon us and from mid-September your thoughts should be turning to daffodils. There are many varieties that you can explore for your garden. My advice is to look at what daffodils best suit your location and altitude. Some of my favourites are Pheasant’s Eye (from Fentongollan at http://www.flowerfarm.co.uk) and Narcissi Rip Van Winkle (at Sarah Raven Kitchen & Garden http://www.sarahraven.com).