September days are here
"By all these lovely tokens, September days are here with summer's best of weather, And autumn's best of cheer." Author Unknown
Well, September is here, and it’s the beginning of the meteorological autumn. The weather last month was very mixed. One week we were frantically watering the garden in our sunhats. The next week we were in our macs and wellies. And, of course, we had some damage from the gales too. The combination of sun and rain led to most plants growing well. Particularly the weeds. So we had a big weed pulling session mid-month and some smaller ones each week. There are less volunteers around to help in the summer, so these small sessions are important in keeping the garden maintained. But it’s an uphill job.
Our sunflowers have shot up. It’s a plant we are known for, but we didn’t have as many this year. Lockdown limited our time in the garden, so we didn’t introduce many new plants. Some alpines have started appearing though, as they don’t need as much watering. Handy to have on the roof of Bugingham Palace, as the rain doesn’t really get to it because of the overhanging ivy. But in other parts of the garden we still have a lot of plants flowering and brightening our visit.
I’ve been playing ‘hunt the borage’ in the garden. I keep finding them hiding in pots and grass where they have self-seeded from last year. I love plants that self-seed as it saves work for us and money too. We have forget-me-nots that come up each year. And our giant angelica has not only produced thousands of seeds, but it currently has seedlings growing in containers at the end of the garden. So if you want to grow angelica grab a seedling, or look in the book tree for a packet of seeds. Or if you are travelling by train, there are seedlings at the station too. Sow seeds this year and the plant will grow much bigger next year.
The noughts and crosses pieces that were made and put on the board by the bench a couple of weeks ago, have all gradually disappeared. So can you keep an eye out for butterfly and spider stones and slates when you are walking round the garden. It’s a ‘hunt the spider and butterfly’ game. Just put them back on the wooden board if you find any. We don’t have many toys and games in the garden at the moment, as a COVID precaution. I think the small people using the garden miss them as they were obviously used a lot.
The veg garden has kept us busy. The runner beans weren’t a success this year as they demand so much water, but we’ve still got lots of purple beans, chard, spinach and salad stuff being picked. The onions and garlic are both pulled now and some replanted. And the tomatoes are being picked. I’ve just pulled (and eaten) our first ever swede/turnip too. I’m never sure what to call them as their name seems to be quite controversial. But the seed packet called them a swede and they are yellowish and taste like something I call a swede.
The wormery I have in my shed is providing the plant food that is used in the veg garden. The worms work hard making fine compost out of kitchen waste and cardboard tubes. And as a by-product they produce a liquid plant food. I’ve had the worms since early last year and they seem quite happy in their home. They have obviously reproduced as the wormery is getting quite crowded. If anyone needs some worms to start their own, let me know. Look up ‘vermicomposting’ if you want to find out more.
I’m sowing the autumn veg again after my first batches were half eaten by caterpillars. I’m getting to admire the long, green crawly things. They have amazing camouflage. For a start they are the same colour as a baby cabbage stem. And they know not to move when I am looking for them.
I read somewhere that slugs avoided red kale, so I bought some seeds to try out this year. I don’t know about the slugs, but it seems that the butterflies aren’t interested in them either. They are looking a lot less eaten than the other two types of kale I have tried to grow. So don’t be surprised if you see a veg garden full of red kale this year, as it could be the only winter veg to survive!
The Blooming Old Gardener