Meteorological autumn has begun, and summer has returned! So this week it‘s time to water pots and younger plants, ripen fruit and perhaps try a spot of seed saving. Seed saving is on the rise as more folk growing recognise our changing weather patterns and the need for seeds suited to our local climate conditions. Some seeds are easier to save than others, peas and tomatoes are well worth a try from healthy, disease-free plants.
If you still have some fat juicy pods that escaped the pot let a few pods dry on the plant in warm autumn sunshine. Once the pod and pea are brown and dry store peas in an old envelope in a cool, dry, mouse free place. You might still be picking late sowings and if this is the case and the warm weather continues, they’d appreciate a good soak to give you a final flurry of pods.
Remove any remaining flowers and at least half of the leaves to maximise sunshine. Reducing flowers and leaves means you can cut back on the watering too. Do keep an eye out for yellowing leaves, mould on stems and black spots signalling tomato blight. If you have suspected blight don’t leave it to develop further, harvest fruit and try ripening them on a windowsill and dispose of diseased plants in council compost, depot or the bog standard bin. Disease-free tomatoes can be left to ripen in this last blast of summer
Try coaxing late flowering strawberries to swell and ripen. Forming fruit will appreciate a good water every few days to help fruit swell. Autumn raspberries come into their own from now on but they too might appreciate a one-off good soak if the dry spell continues.
Cabbage white butterflies are still laying their eggs on ‘brassicas’ so do keep an eye out for eggs and caterpillars and squish them between your fingers. It’s still worth making sowings of pak choi or winter lettuce on windowsills.
Mint and thymes will still be flowering and providing essential late nectar for bees, so don’t be tempted to go in and ‘tidy’ for autumn too soon. Coriander may also have run to seed or be flowering; you can still use this in the kitchen, and pollinators love the small, delicate white flowers. If you have a warm, sunny windowsill, you might consider splitting one supermarket basil pot into several. Pinching the plant out will keep you in bushy basil plants for weeks. See our socials for ‘pinching out’ clip from Lauriston Farm.
Tubers will have finished all their growing by now, so disease–free tops can be cut at soil levels and composted. Dig tatties over the next few weeks and let them dry in warm sunshine before storing them somewhere cool, dry and mouse free. If any of the stems are mushy, you may have potato blight- remove the tops, don’t compost them and leave the tubers for three weeks undisturbed to prevent blight getting to your tatties.