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Posted on 2nd October, 2023
Just this time last year I was writng about the unprecedented heat that hit
us, temperatures in August hit record-breaking levels and it was incrediblychallenging to grow anything. Seeds had to be re-sown after a warm Spring fried initial sowings and many things that germinated were stressed by the bonkers conditions we had. Beans produced much later in the year as the overnight temperatures were too high to enable pollination and it was difficult to keep up with watering.
 Cue this year, and what a difference! The growing conditions have been perfect. A warm (not scorching) Summer, and though we’ve had spells of dry, we have had sufficient rainfall throughout the year to get a good amount into waterbutts and containers. Luckily The
Smallholding Farm escaped the hose ban as it is a commercial site, and though everything is on irrigation, there have been Times we’ve been watering. Water harvesting is top of my to-do list there, and looking ahead to the next few months, now is the perfect time to start planning how to implement this into your garden next year.
August is the last month to do any direct sowings (straight into the soil). Many flowers and some vegetables will so I'll have time to grow and produce before the Autumn frosts arrive,
so it is worth pushing these through while the soil is still warm. This year Ive direct sown more antirrhinum, calendula and another batch of Nasturtium. It’s not a usual thing to do as these are usually started in March, but the Chefs in the restaurant use a lot of these edible flowers, so I cant grow them quickly enough! Equally this method will apply to a domestic seedng and give a late flush of colour in borders when everything can start to look a bit jaded.
In the Borders
Deadheading is still a major undertaking to encourage summer perennials to stay lovely and I still feed pots and hanging baskets at least every ten days until the end of this month, maybe into September if conditions are favourable and we have a late Summer. I tend to start taking seeds off generic things like Foxgloves, Aqualegia, Verbena B
onariensis and Hollyhocks and throw these to the backs of borders for next year. As I buysome specific varieties, I will get new seed next year rather than saving any,
 as taking seeds from these will notproduce a true-to-type plant. This year Mum and I found some crazy black Petunia for her window boxes, and while I’m saving the seed from these, there is no guarantee this hybrid will produce the same flower next year, sadly!
Lavender can be pruned back, avoiding cutting into old wood. Any opened buds can be dried or made into oils and cuttings can be taken for next year.
Softwood cuttngs can be taken from Penstemon and if it’s not too hot, I start Pelargonium cuttngs off as well.
 Dead leaves should be cleared away from borders to discourage pests and diseases. Any diseased leaves shouldn’t be composted as this can carry infections into next year’s soil.
Speaking of compost, my bins are overflowing, so another thing on my list is to turn them into empty bays! Not the one of the most glamorous elements of gardening (especially in Summer!) but certainly one of themost essential. This will accelerate breakdown by mixing up the layers and aerating. And it gives the worms room to breathe and do their thing!
Page 4
In the Veg Patch
We have had what can only be described as a glut of cucumbers and courgees on the Farm, and the onionharvest has been the best yet. The last pea plants we had sown in modular trays didn
’t take so well to the odd
days of heat we had, so have just been able to squeeze the last direct sowing in. We use hazel twigs to supportthese as they are all natural and twisted, which gives the shoots a great support but also look really amazing!
 We’ve experimented
with a lot of vercal planng this year. Cargo neng is not so difficult to do once you get
the hang of it
(I know
 terrible pun) so the cucumbers, sweet potato and aubergine have all been grown up.Apart from the fact it’s a space-
saver, venlaon i
s increased which decreases disease.Beetroots and cornichons can be harvested and pickled. You may have found root veg like turnips and swedes
have bolted. They can be harvested, and at this me you can do a sneaky sowing of these for a late harvest inOctober. Oriental salads like Mizuna a
nd Mibuna can be sown, as can t
he last lot of winter leuce and beansand peas can connue to be picked. Onions and garlics can be dug up and hung to dry for a couple of weeks
which will enable them to be stored for months to come.Happy gardening

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