It was a great pleasure to hear Joy read from her wonderful book of memoirs ‘Just Vegetating’ . She has written many gardening books and has led a very interesting gardener’s life!
The long awaited summer blissfully swept by and now autumn sadly is fast approaching. Most plants thrived in the garden if kept adequately watered during the dry period. Recent chores include dead heading and weeding. Continue liquid feeding tomatoes, courgettes, salad plants and most other kitchen garden crops. Once the temperature begins decreasing around September stop feeding everything outside. Anything indoors may be fed until active growth ceases later that month.
To ensure some edible produce for the winter month’s make late sowings of rocket, lettuce and salad herbs such as Mizuna and Red Mustard Greens over the coming weeks. Many of these oriental herbs are very hardy, tolerating cool temperatures and yielding a generous supply through the winter. They dislike high temperatures so unfortunately many bolted this summer. Basil may still be grown on a sunny windowsill and should continue until late September and even into October. Careful watering early in the day is essential and always harvest from the tips, this encourages further bushy growth.
I like to remove all dead flower heads of herbs such as Fennel and St John’s Wort before they set seed otherwise they will take over your garden and become an unwelcome weed. In Autumn I usually prune back by approximately a third leaving some bulk to protect them through the winter, then next spring it is machete time and everything gets cut back to ground level.
The main planting season is over but great bargains can now be captured when purchasing perennial (grows for many years) herbs and other plant varieties. They may appear scraggy in the pots due to hunger so plant out or pot on. If they have a well developed root system they should grow vigorously next spring. Remember Thymes are best retained in sandy soil in pots throughout the winter and planted out next year, ideally into a raised bed or larger container. Mints must be restrained, but unlike Thymes prefer a rich, moist soil. Indeed my flowering treasure this year turned out to be a massive almost jet black hollyhock. It was the weakest of the mixed batch I sowed last year. I half heartedly planted it late last autumn, forgetting all about its existence until it demanded my attention with a bold statement this year. It then got its fair share of T.L.C. and its stunning stems of black beauty rewarded me with weeks of pleasure.