Time to reap what you sow
PUBLISHED: 11:35 07 October 2014 | UPDATED: 11:35 07 October 2014
Belinda Gray offers growing advice from plot to pot
Continuing to reap what you have sown for autumn rolls into October either storing produce or, as I prefer, getting my cook books out and trying out some great new recipes. My kitchen shelf heaves with my favourites as well as new and inspiring reads where the present bestsellers advocate healthy, high alkaline eating with the freshest produce available.
Hopefully you have a good growth of brassicas under netting, ready to feed you this winter. Keep them netted; once the cabbage white butterflies disappear the hungry pigeons can scavenge the lot in one fowl swoop as I experienced rather tragically last year. If leaves are looking yellow, give them a boost with a high nitrogen feed like Maxi crop. Start harvesting the early sprouting broccoli spears remembering to cut the main central shoot first to stimulate multiple, bushy shoot growth. Green leaves of kale, spinach and chard are such a rich source of nutrients and a daily serving or picking of the leaves to juice will help keep you more germ resistant this winter.
Garlic planting is a job for October and it is always fun selecting soft-neck (longer storers) and hard neck varieties to grow as well as the giant Elephant garlic, delicious roasted (thegarlicfarm.co.uk). Popping the individual cloves just under the soil in rows has to be the easiest task with the greatest rewards next June/July when succulent bulbs can be eaten green or stored for up to six months.
Pamper your pumpkins
The squash fruits of your labour are now ready for picking – it is a jungle of leaves and runners out there but what treasure is to be found as huge fleshy orange and yellow squash and pumpkins are unearthed following months of swelling growth.
Here are some storage tips.
Always cut leaving 10cm or stalk with the squash
Remove any soil and lay in a warm place for 2 weeks to allow the skin to harden and offer more protection (curing)
Store then in a cooler place, like a garage or shed, free from direct sun and moisture
Expand your orchard
Apple, pear and quince crops seem variable this year, some with heavy boughs, other barely having fruited. Storing the best of them is crucial for longevity, with the later fruiting varieties being better storers. Shallow wooden crates or if you are lucky, apple racks, allow the necessary air circulation so ensure they are not touching, as any rot will pass swiftly to their partners. It is a good time to buy new fruit trees if you want to expand your orchard or grow in pots and advice from a specialist nursery is always worth having for a larger selection of variety and ‘right for site’.
Crown Nursery at Ufford has a tasting room, which is a great way of trying out a variety before planting (crown-nursery.co.uk)