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Posted on 2nd October, 2023
While I’m still holding out for an Indian summer, the misty mornings we’ve
had at the tail end of August certainly turned my thoughts towards autumn, though I'm not so keen to admit this...
The most fabulous thing for me (as I write this in the last week of August a after a muggy day of stormy downpours) is that just yesterday at the farm,we harvested our first watermelon var. Blacktail Mountain.We were warned it may be not so sweet as we are growing in the UK rather than the Mediterranean. Prepared for disappointment, we carried it up to thekitchen, still warm from the day's heat. The chefs carved it all up and we shared it out among us all working that afternoon. But ...it was the tastiest thing ever! It makes me think anything is possible...
The 20⁰s heat and all the rain we had towards the end of the month has meant that the borders are full of colour. Its been a fabulous year for growing, plants haven’t been
battered by extreme heat, many flowers are still going beautifully and I expect this to carry through certainly September at the least. I remember last year’s premature pulling up of many things that had died. Certainly not the case thisyear, so Im prolonging the flowering period for as long as possible. I plan to keep feeding through to the end of September at least, ever with my weather eye focused on low temperatures.
Deadheading to push through those final flowers, monitoring moisture levels and mulching towards the end of the month are all on the list!
In the Borders
I've been keeping all the seeds! I love all the cottage gardenfavourites the antirrhinums, the
 poppies, the foxgloves, nigella and calendula can all be sprinkled over the areas youd like them, though you always get the rogues which appear randomly. I never mind these and love that they arent to plan!
Deadheadingis still standard to keep pushing flower through for the nextmonth, and toward the end of September and after flowering,clump-forming perennials for example Rudbekia and lemon balmcan be lifted. You can divide these into more plants by splittngwith a sharp spade into quarters and replanting into any bare spaces you may have. Water in well whatever you replant, though these may look a bit sad for a day or two, theyll soon pick up.
Many roses are affected by Black Spot at this time ofyear. Because I do not use detrimental chemicals, this can betreated with a product called Sulphur Rose, available from Greenacres Direct. This product treats thefungus and doesnt poison bees or ladybirds, which are essential to our amazing natural environment!
 In the Veg Patch
These conditions have meant that we've been pushing boundaries (as we do) at the Smallholding Farm. We are experimenting all the time and wondering how late we can get in final sowing of things like beetroot which many had planned for about two weeks ago. These were sown into drills straight along the irrigation lines to ensure a constant source of water and I will update youall next month! Cooler evenings in September and October will slow growth so maybe we will only get baby sized ones.
The direct sowings of peas which we did three weeks ago have just started flowering, which will lead to a super late crop, we hope! Peas should be pretty much done by now so I’m looking forward toseeing how these work. 
With the days of August heat, some indoor-grown tomatoes may have slightly tougher skins
 but these are still fine for cooking and any others coming on should benefit from slightly cooler September conditions. Cuttng the leaves from the base to the next truss of fruits increases ventilation and allows sunlight through to ripen quickly.
 It is likely that squashes and courgettes have leaves which are showing signs of powdery mildew. 
Afterthe dry of summer, damp mornings enable this fungus to thrive. I cut these leaves off and dispose of them far from my compost heaps. This increases ventilation and my chances of the produce not beingaffected. Any harvestings of main crop sweetcorn, carrots, beans and baby leeks can be continued this month and celeriac can be tried, though these can be left though the next couple of months. If you’ve managed to keep the attacking pests from your cabbages, these should be good to go!
If you havent had the chance, now is the time to take strawberry runners.Strawberry plants are productive for amaximum of three years, so be brutal.Weak plants arent  productive 
and thisyear Ive invested in a whole new variety Malling Champion’, producing approx 1kg of fruit per plant and which was developed in 2019. One of the latest to come from our own East Malling researchstation https://www.niab.com/niab-east-malling.
I love September because it's when we preserve with all the bits left over! Proper autumnal 
cooking goes on in our kitchen at home to preserve anything we cant eat at the time, so soups, passata (from tomatoes and peppers), dried seed such as coriander..I love seasonal flavours, but you can always extend some things a little bit and push your Luck!
Happy gardening!

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