I wish I had a £1 for every time I’ve chatted to fellow plot members, and we have commented how the blackberries are again so early. And how, when we were young, (us older ones), they used to be picked at half-term at the end of October a.k.a. Blackberry week! This year, more than ever, we have all experienced some very hot weather and if I had another £1 for every time we’ve struggled with the heat and the need to water daily, I would really be a rich woman.
That said, like the stalwart gardeners that we are, we get on with the new season, plotting and planning for autumn and the coming spring. The onions and shallots that will overwinter are in the garden centers now as are a lot of nursery brassicas. Garlic can be planted out and jams and fruit juices appear on the kitchen benches. By October, any green tomatoes can be harvested for green tomato chutney and then the greenhouse glass can be cleaned ready for the next season.
Broad beans, (variety: aquadulce claudia) can be sown now and almost always stand the winter, ready for an early harvest. The early flowers of this variety usually miss the blackfly that appears on later varieties. Existing brassicas can continue to be harvested, with brussels sprouts plumping up for Christmas day. Spring cabbages can be moved to their final position and summer fruiting raspberries canes pruned down to ground level now, leaving only the fresh new growth.
In the flower beds, poppy seeds can be saved for next year and sweet peas can be sown if protected from the worst of the winter weather. I do this every year and am always amazed how tough they are. Sowing now gives an early flowering display; I then sow more in the spring in pots and also direct into the ground. This gives me a pretty continuous display to be picked and shared. And looking forward to 2023, this is the time to order plant spring flowering bulbs, for a February to May display. Tulips can be left to November or even December.
Of course, the gardening season never really ends and Autumn still holds promise of the enjoyment of many winter vegetables, not to mention the glut of apples, pears and plums this year. So, I’ll continue to brighten my kitchen with dahlias whilst eating homemade leek and potato soup and watching the final Gardeners World.