Home Greenhouse SEPTEMBER – OCTOBER 2023 – Nicky Kyle Gardening

SEPTEMBER – OCTOBER 2023 – Nicky Kyle Gardening

SEPTEMBER – OCTOBER 2023 – Nicky Kyle Gardening


What a change in lower than three weeks – and never simply the climate, however on my weblog too!  Right here, on the County Dublin/County Meath border within the north-east of Eire, on our windy hill only a few kilometres inland from the Irish sea, through the first week of September, solely three weeks in the past, we had file temperatures, with Gerry Kelly and I having fun with recording our month-to-month ‘develop your personal natural meals’ chat sitting in superb sunshine outdoors.  Only a few days later, we had every week with 400% of the conventional rainfall and ankle deep floods, two days in the past we had gales so robust that I couldn’t open the polytunnel doorways in case the wind ripped them out of my hand and the polytunnel took flight! Then early yesterday morning the thermometer was studying zero levels Centigrade on the watermelon mattress!  

Our seasons are a lot much less clearly outlined now, and extra unpredictable since local weather change started accelerating extra quickly.  Generally we nearly expertise all 4 seasons in every week.  To misquote L.P. Hartley’s 1953 novel “The Go-Between”…“The previous is a overseas nation:  they do issues in a different way there” – How very totally different the local weather was then – and the way a lot I miss these gentler and extra predictable, balmy early autumn days of my nation childhood – which Keats’ verse under describes so completely:

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, 
Shut bosom-friend of the maturing solar;
Conspiring with him the right way to load and bless
With fruit the vines that around the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a candy kernel ………………..

…. Hedge crickets sing; and now with treble gentle
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter within the skies

(John Keats)

Nevertheless, that is such a beautiful time of yr within the vegetable backyard, polytunnel and orchard that we will nonetheless get pleasure from plentiful crops, if we be taught to adapt to local weather change.  Rising at the very least a few of our personal wholesome meals is wanting more and more smart – with excessive climate occasions taking place extra typically all through Europe and additional afield, in no matter a part of the world a few of our fruit and veg is imported from.  As a gardener, one naturally eats seasonally, which is much better for the planet.  Typically our greatest drawback, regardless of the climate, is what on earth to do with all of the produce which we’ve labored so arduous to develop!  However I always remember how lucky we’re to have that drawback, and to nonetheless be capable to develop meals – when many all over the world are being affected by local weather change a lot extra badly than us – and have so little by comparability.

Along with harvesting and preserving produce as quick as one can whereas on sticks – during the last 4 weeks I’ve additionally had to deal with the shock and big stress as a result of hacking of my web site and potential lack of 13 years work, which has led to huge adjustments and a whole lot of additional work.  So this autumnal equinox heralds a brand new begin on the weblog, a recent begin with a brand new look, which I hope you’ll get pleasure from and discover some useful concepts which I’ve gleaned from my 45 years of rising and cooking natural meals. 

So, many apologies for the late arrival of this September blogpost – not my fault!  The legal hacking of my web site 4 weeks in the past has necessitated radical adjustments within the design and content material of the weblog, remedial work to recuperate 13 years of misplaced content material shall be ongoing for some time, and the web site will regularly evolve naturally.  

Although my web site doesn’t promote something, so no helpful private particulars could be out there to criminals – apparently, these nasty parasites work by attaching some kind of Google bot to a trusted web site hyperlink, which then drives extra site visitors to their website as an alternative, and should introduce malware to unwary guests.  I feel I’ve obtained the gist of it now – however I’m not into tech stuff!  Anyway, let me guarantee you that after a whole lot of remedial work, this web site is now encrypted and authorized protected.  At this level, I need to specific huge due to Keith Kingston of Ripthek Ltd, who has been making up for my woeful lack of tech abilities for a few years, and with out whom I couldn’t probably have gotten this web site drawback sorted out. My persistence and experience are with crops and animals – I’m allergic to computer systems!

On the identical time, I already had even much less time to do my gardening and writing than I usually would, with a lot time being taken up by numerous appointments in several hospitals, resulting from log jams within the well being service attributable to the Covid pandemic.  As many readers shall be conscious, I’m additionally presently partially disabled resulting from issues attributable to outdated accidents from my days of retraining rescue horses – so every part takes a bit longer to do outdoors, particularly in tough climate when wading by way of floods!  . 

However ‘by no means quit or give in’ is my motto – and gardening is such nice remedy for everybody, no matter their talents – even for these like me, who aren’t fairly as ready as they was.  It’s such a aware, constructive and productive occupation, that once I’m doing it, I are likely to neglect all my worries for some time – particularly when accompanied by continuously entertaining Robins!  It has scientifically confirmed psychological well being advantages too, and natural gardening naturally produces scrumptious, seasonal meals to maintain us wholesome, concurrently benefiting soil well being, biodiversity, and the planet. 

In The Polytunnel Potager

Early autumn is at all times fairly a tough time of yr for rising in polytunnels, with summer season crops like tomatoes nonetheless ripening fruits, however late autumn and winter crops more and more impatient to be planted.  It’s a fragile balancing act, this kind of midway home between summer season and autumn.  As I discussed in my common month-to-month chat with Gerry Kelly three weeks in the past, it’s a time once we want what I name ‘seat of the pants’ gardening, and the flexibleness to be ready for any climate eventualities!   You’ll be able to hearken to our chat right here https://nickykylegardening.com/hear/

Tomatoes loved the current scorching climate and have been ripening quick.  I by no means de-leaf crops until leaves are diseased or dying, or until there’s a lot foliage that it severely impacts the air circulation so very important presently of yr, during which case I take off a number of leaves to enhance this.  The crops themselves will present you what they want by yellowing of their decrease leaves, which I then take away, as they’re now not of use to them.  Wholesome inexperienced leaves are nonetheless photosynthesising and making meals for the plant, turning vitamins into sugars to feed progress and promote vital phytonutrients in fruits.  I don’t water or feed tomatoes in any respect after the top of September, as chilly nights can scale back the temperature at their roots and trigger them to shortly rot.

Conversely, September can typically be exremely scorching undercover through the day, with midsummer temperatures on sunny days – not what cool climate crops like salad veg and oriental greens get pleasure from.  I are likely to sow these in modules, to convey on outdoors, solely planting inside when the climate has turned cooler.  Rising them like this, they’re able to go in as quickly as house is cleared for them, and the climate is cool sufficient. This implies no gaps in cropping, and far more flexibility, one thing not simply helpful in life, but in addition very important for producing meals crops. I have to stress once more that flexibility is one thing we have to be taught any longer if we need to produce meals reliably all yr spherical, in an typically erratic and altering local weather.

Oriental greens akin to Broccoli Raab, salad mustards and Mizuna develop gratifyingly quick, producing loads of helpful leaves in a short time for late autumn and winter within the polytunnel.  I are likely to develop these in barely bigger modules than small plugs, in order that I’ve the flexibleness to present them a pair extra weeks of progress earlier than they want planting, if the autumn is simply too heat.  However they nonetheless must be transplanted from their modules as quickly as their root ball will maintain collectively – earlier than it turns into too congested and rootbound.

One of the simplest ways to find out this with out pushing them out and risking the foundation ball falling aside is to verify the beneath of the module each few days.  If roots are beginning to emerge from the underside to search for extra soil, then that is typically information.  For those who frivolously squeeze the module, then push them up gently from the underside, the foundation ball will often come out simply in a single piece when held by their leaves, fairly than holding the tender stems, that are very weak to bruising and illness at this stage.  As soon as the foundation ball holds collectively nicely sufficient, this lets you deal with the module when planting with out the compost falling off, which may shock the extra delicate crops.

If their roots have already crammed their modules, they usually urgently want planting earlier than their house is prepared, I’ll typically pot the crops on into small pots to maintain them shifting and stop them from getting a verify which may set off bolting. This may be tough as you must verify day by day, by checking one of many nook crops within the module tray, as if pushed out too early the module might break up and the crops will bolt, relying on how delicate they’re!  If however they’re left only a bit too lengthy – turning into rootbound and hungry, then that can do the identical! 

Whereas doing this will appear a whole lot of trouble, it’s nicely price doing and prevents them turning into root certain which triggers bolting of fast-growing greens like Oriental greens, that are usually extra delicate to this.  Even when the climate is cool sufficient and house is prepared at planting time – I often develop extra crops than I would like and sometimes plant half of the modules direct, potting on the remainder both to plant some other place later or to present away.  This acts as an insurance coverage coverage and ensures valuable winter crops regardless of the climate.  Seedlings additionally want safety at this stage from birds scratching for worms, mice, slugs and sudden autumn downpours whereas nonetheless of their trays.  Winter crops are so precious that you simply’ll be so glad you took only a bit of additional care with them, while you eat the scrumptious leads to midwinter!

Unfastened leaf lettuce like Merlot, Lollo Rossa or Jack Ice, Batavian, and different salad leaves akin to endives, winter spinach, lamb’s lettuce, Claytonia and Oriental leaves are a lot the perfect worth for winter salads in a polytunnel, as they are often picked only a few leaves at a time, as quickly as leaves are giant sufficient to be helpful in salads.  They may go on for months being harvested this manner. I don’t develop any hearting lettuce in winter as a result of after you have picked the top it’s gone. I additionally discover that gentle butterheads and hearting lettuces akin to Marvel of The 4 Seasons are way more liable to rotting illnesses like botrytis or gray mould within the damp humid climate so prevalent in our Irish winters.

For those who haven’t sown any winter greens but – don’t fear!  There are nonetheless loads of fast-growing crops you’ll be able to sow now to supply meals crops each from polytunnels and outdoors within the vegetable backyard, later in autumn earlier than the climate turns actually chilly.  However with gentle lowering quickly after the autumn equinox, it’s important to sow them as quickly as attainable to get the perfect crops. There’s a full listing on my ‘What to Sow Now’ web page right here: https://nickykylegardening.com/class/what-to-sow-now/

Celery is considered one of my ‘should have,’ most helpful staple crops all yr spherical, and because the climate deteriorates outdoors, I at all times have potted crops able to plant inside as quickly as summer season crops are cleared, and for the final two years I’ve additionally planted some earlier between just-planted tomato crops.  Then I water the roots of the celery crops fairly than the tomatoes.  This appears to work nicely, they usually appear blissful bedfellows.  I lower down the tomatoes when they’re completed, and the already giant celery crops go on cropping all winter, choosing only a few stems at a time.

One of many nice issues about polytunnels is they offer us a flexibility (that phrase once more!) which is so helpful, guaranteeing dependable crops regardless of the climate.  Once I develop celery in tunnel beds, I typically interplant it with crops which get pleasure from the identical damp soil circumstances, akin to land cress or watercress.  I additionally develop it in tubs, particularly when making an attempt new varieties for the primary time – typically as soon as once more interplanting with watercress.  Each are then stored very well-watered to forestall them drying out they usually produce lush harvests.  My favorite dependable varieties presently are Tall Inexperienced Utah, Unwin’s Pink, and Purple Enterprise. These are all non-F1, open pollinated varieties, which you’ll be able to saved seed from.

I sow celery twice a yr –  in early to mid-February to supply crops for rising outdoors within the backyard with a number of ‘insurance coverage crops’ as I name them, to plant within the polytunnel between the tomatoes.  Then I sow extra in mid-June to plant in tubs and polytunnel beds for winter manufacturing.  As it is vitally sluggish rising you want loads of crops for winter, even if you’re choosing just one or two sticks at a time, which is the way in which I harvest it.  Selecting it this manner ensures that the crops will final nicely into the next spring.  It’s nearly the one plant within the polytunnel which I water just a bit in winter.  Do not forget that it’s a lavatory plant naturally, and wishes continuously moist, however not saturated, soil to be its tender greatest.

Celery is one ingredient within the Italian ‘holy trinity’ of greens, and together with carrots and onions make the essential ‘soffritto’ utilized in so many recipes which is indispensable all year long.  It’s sensible for low-carb/low calorie snacking too – as extremely, it takes extra energy to digest than it really accommodates!  I eat it nearly day by day because it offers salads an awesome crunch.  A scrumptious and filling meals which could be very low calorie, but in addition low carb, is a uncommon and precious factor!  There actually is nothing like with the ability to snap off a turgid, crunchy stem to snack on whereas strolling around the backyard, or to stay up for in considered one of my lunchtime low-carb salad wraps!

In The Vegetable Backyard

Work is usually winding down outdoors now, with over-wintering crops planted, however make sure that to cowl any floor not already lined with a crop or a inexperienced manure, with a carbon-rich mulch like bark chips, to guard soil, stop carbon loss and leaching of vitamins by heavy rain, and to maintain weeds down. 

Preserve cloches and frost safety fleece able to cowl crops if frost is forecast. Suspending frost safety above crops on hoops or canes, fairly than resting it on them, offers extra safety from freezing.

Do not forget that even in case you don’t have a backyard, however solely a balcony or only a path to your own home, you’ll be able to nonetheless develop nearly something in containers if they’re deep sufficient to carry compost or soil for plant roots, and have drainage holes to forestall crops from turning into water-logged, and most significantly, if there’s sufficient gentle.  You can even make your personal natural, peat-free growbags from luggage of compost as I did this yr with nice outcomes or make raised beds from outdated skip luggage, or perhaps a stepladder with a deep field on every step.  Pests appreciated slugs and snails are a lot much less of an issue to crops in containers, as they’re raised off the bottom.

Mixing cops in containers will be enjoyable in addition to decorative – however nonetheless productive, so long as they get pleasure from the identical rising circumstances. Even in case you solely develop sufficient to interchange one meal every week in winter, or a number of salads, with one thing you’ve grown your self – that’s meals you received’t have to purchase, and with family budgets below extreme strain as they’re presently – each single meal counts! 

In my month-to-month ‘develop your personal natural meals’ chat with Gerry Kelly, on LMFM Radio three weeks in the past – we talked lots about my new, home made natural, Peat-free growbag raised mattress venture this yr.  You could find all of the podcasts for every month, and for these from earlier years, right here: https://nickykylegardening.com/hear/

In The Fruit Backyard and Orchard

Early apples don’t hold for greater than every week or two with out shedding their flavour.  I stroll across the orchard day by day accumulating windfalls. Broken fruits received’t retailer and needs to be used instantly, or they will rot in a short time.  We have now far much less tree fruit this yr, resulting from our chemical-farming neighbour’s hormone weedkiller spray-drift in March inflicting most of the earlier flowering types of fruits like plums, pears, and early apples to abort their blossom.  Shortly afterwards we had critical late spring frosts right here which affected most of the later flowering types of apples too.  Then current torrential rain and gales have broken them much more – a lot in order that many have developed brown rot on broken fruits. 

The more and more erratic and unpredictable spring and summer season climate attributable to local weather change is making the fruit gardener’s life far tougher, with tree fruits like apples, pears and plums most weak to sudden durations of unseasonal climate.  Late frosts in spring can imply fewer pollinating bugs round, and doubtlessly much less fruit because of this. If that’s then adopted by an extended dry spell in June or July, fruits might ‘set’ and begin to ripen their skins. Then if an unseasonal storm or deluge follows in August, as occurred right here this yr, fruits will typically crack or break up – actually bursting on the seams!  This leaves them open to pest and illness harm, although at first look harm they might seem to have healed, that is at all times the place bugs acquire entrance, after which illness follows. 

In consequence, we have to hold a detailed eye on pest or illness issues on fruit timber and take care of any instantly.  Brown rot is a living proof because it appears to have occurred on many individuals’s fruit timber this yr. Apples, pears, and plums will be affected by this very infectious fungal illness, which may additionally infect branches, inflicting canker and dieback if not handled as quickly as attainable.  For those who see any fruits affected by this, it’s important to take away them instantly, earlier than they drop to the bottom, because the illness can lay dormant there over the winter and emerge once more in spring when circumstances are proper, inflicting blossom wilt as nicely. 

Eliminate rotting or mummified fruits instantly, ideally into your council inexperienced waste bin, or bury them at the very least a foot/30cm deep within the floor.  Do NOT compost them, as only a few home compost heaps warmth as much as a excessive sufficient temperature to destroy the disease-carrying fungal spores.

Purple Satan is often one of the vital dependable and beneficiant September apples, with scrumptious, pink-stained flesh illustrating its excessive, wholesome polyphenol content material.  It at all times seems so lovely silhouetted in opposition to the blue September sky – similar to a baby’s picture-book apple. It’s usually closely laden with fruits, however this yr it has been very badly affected by the climate, carrying far fewer apples, with splits attributable to the current heavy rainfall, and the dreaded brown rot creating shortly on broken fruits. 

I stroll across the orchard day by day with a bag accumulating any affected fruits, and no usable bits are wasted.  They’re handled instantly as a result of each little bit of fruit is valuable this yr and should be preserved for winter use. We attempt to be self-sufficient in apples right here all yr spherical, so even small items are helpful for one thing – chutneys, baking, fruit leathers and smoothies and so forth. I take away any dangerous bits, toss them in lemon juice to forestall browning after which freeze or dehydrate them to be used later.

My dehydrator is likely one of the greatest investments I ever made.  It does a implausible job of preserving vegetables and fruit all yr spherical, making delectable treats like semi-dried fruits and tomatoes for winter salads, sultanas, or fruit leathers and even low carb crisps and crackers.  Additionally it is very helpful for dehydrating chopped apples if I’m wanting freezer house, as some, like Grenadier, are excellent when simply picked, however lose their flavour very quick.

In a number of hours, the dehydrator can scale back seemingly huge volumes of produce to a way more manageable dimension, to both semi-dry and freeze, which is how I choose them – or to dry fully.  Apples that are fully dry will retailer in a helpful state for years in hermetic jars.  At the moment of yr freezer house is at all times at a premium, with summer season crops and autumn fruits like blackberries already taking over a whole lot of room.

I feel what I really like most about my dehydrator is that it goes on working whereas I’m asleep.  One factor is for certain – the work by no means stops in a develop your personal meals backyard – however it’s such productive, satisfying work with such scrumptious outcomes!

Different Jobs

Plant garlic – the earlier you plant it, the larger the bulbs will ultimately be.  If attainable, plant natural bulbs – these are far much less prone to carry the dreaded onion white rot and different illnesses, as natural growers are legally required to stick to strict rotations, to forestall the build-up of pests and illnesses – whereas chemical growers don’t have to do that and should develop constantly in the identical soil.  This along with the nasty pesticides they use, traces of which can nonetheless be current within the bulbs you purchase!

It’s peak seed-saving time now! Saving seeds will prevent some huge cash, which is beneficial in inflationary occasions.  Gather seeds of open-pollinated greens on dry days as quickly as they’re ripe, and place in paper luggage to dry.  Tomato seeds want totally different remedy, with fruits left till very gentle, over-ripe and able to drop, in order that the seeds will be rubbed straight onto paper towel and left to dry.  And don’t neglect to label them!

It is a good time to purchase in natural peat-free seed compost – and likewise peat-free potting compost, when you have someplace dry to maintain it.  It tends to be brief in brief provide in early spring when everybody else is ordering it and if that’s the case, might delay your early spring sowings.

Minimize down runner bean roots and elevate them simply as you’ll Dahlia tubers, on a dry day earlier than the primary frosts, to retailer and replant for an earlier crop subsequent yr. (Extra on that subsequent month).



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