Gardening Jobs in September

Gardening Jobs in September

Summer is coming to an end, but that does not mean the end of the gardening season. Quite the opposite! It is time to harvest the fruits of your labour! Zucchinis, pumpkins, tomatoes, beans, potatoes and chillies – there is a glut of veggies to harvest now. Often, far more than anyone can eat. To make the most of the harvest, preserve it now for the lean times ahead.
Check out how to preserve the harvest 

Extending the season

If you want to extend the season to still harvest some fresh veggies until at least the early part of the winter, you should now sow some winter crops.

Salad ingredients

It’s such a wonderful thing to be able to harvest fresh greens even as nature is winding down and retreating for her winter sleep. You can now sow Miner’s lettuce, Lamb’s Lettuce, Asia salad mix, and cress, and radishes.

Veggies for overwintering

Some veggies also appreciate the early start and can continue to grow through the winter.
Spinach, winter peas, broad beans, winter carrots, and if you live in a mild climate, Swiss chard, can all be sown now. But check the varieties – there are always early and late ones and ones that are winter hardy. That is what you want to sow now. You can also plant onion sets now. They will be ready to harvest in July.

In situ or under glass

If you don’t yet have enough space in your plots, you can start the winter crops indoors or in the cold frame.

Propagating

Now is also the time to take cuttings, so you can propagate your perennials and bushes. Take cuttings from this year’s growth that have not become woody yet. They work best if dipped in rooting hormones before planting them into pots. Mix the soil with perlite or similar to improve the drainage.


Happy gardening!



Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

What Gardening Jobs are there to do in August?

What Gardening Jobs are there to do in August?

August is a fabulous time for all gardeners! The explosion of colour, scent and texture is a fiesta for the senses. But above all, allotment gardeners love this time of the year. Harvest is finally here. Finally, all the hard work from the spring is paying off.

 

Harvesting

Just what you will harvest now depends on what you sowed earlier. I tried to grow carrots this year (again). Alas, to no avail. I don’t know what it is about me and carrots, but I have never managed to grow them – except a stray one that is volunteering among the Basil, in one of my balcony planters. If you had better luck, you are probably feasting on them right now.

Fortunately, my other crops are doing fine. There are runner beans and courgettes to pick, almost daily. Peas are over, but the tomatoes are now kicking in.

Perhaps you are picking cucumbers and early potatoes, as well as onions and shallots. The beetroots are swelling here, but yours might be ready to pick. Spinach is now past its best, but Swiss chard picks up the slack. I love the colourful varieties best, although they all make excellent and versatile summer greens.

 

Sowing winter vegetables

You might find that picking and processing all those fantastic summer veggies is enough of a job, and nothing could be further from your mind than winter’s approach. But, beware, it’s August, and before long, summer will be over. So, now is the time to start thinking about late crops and veggies you would like to overwinter.

In milder climates, it is well possible to extend the season to the end of October. The cabbages are particularly hardy. If you started some earlier, you can now plant them out into their permanent positions. You can even still sow some: kohlrabi or turnip and some spring cabbages (check your seed package). Cabbages are particularly popular with bugs and caterpillars, so you might want to protect young seedlings with a fine-meshed cloth. Plant the seedlings out once they have developed 5-6 true leaves. Remember that they will grow big, so give them plenty of space. They also need a sunny spot and do best in a bed that had a different crop in it the previous year (no brassicas!)

I have not had much luck with cabbages. The caterpillars and whiteflies always get the better of them. I prefer growing Asian salad greens, which are easy, prolific and not as vulnerable to bugs. They are hardy, too. Alternatively, spinach and corn salad will also provide welcome winter greens when little else is available.

 

Salad ingredients

Some fast-maturing crops can also now be sown again, such as Rocket, Mustard greens, and Radishes. Spring onions can also be sown in late August, but won’t be ready to pick until the following spring.

 

Watering

Make sure you water regularly and deeply. A little sprinkle does not reach the deeper roots. Instead, it encourages superficial root growth close to the surface. Mulch well to keep the moisture in the soil. Feed with compost or diluted liquid manure.

 

Wildlife

Don’t deadhead all the flowers just yet. The birds are looking for food! They also appreciate a source of clean water for a drink or a bath. The hedgehogs will make use of it, too. Bushes with berries, such as Cotoneaster or Hawthorn, are popular bird food. Starlings and blackbirds just love them!

For ideas as to how to preserve your harvest, check out:  Preserving the harvest 1

or if you prefer a more spirited way to make the most of excess fruits and such:  Preserving the harvest 2

 

Check out SeedsNow for your organic gardening supplies!

 

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

Gardening Jobs in July

Gardening Jobs in July

What gardening jobs are there to do in July?

This is the time of the year that every gardener is waiting for! The garden is in its prime. Everything is growing, flowering and fruiting. It is a sheer joy to be out there, enjoying nature’s bounty.

July is a time of plenty. Early crops are beginning to ripen, and you can enjoy the fruits of your labour. But it is also a time to think ahead to the dark season and the crops you’d like to harvest then – they need to be sown and started now. There are plenty of gardening jobs to be done in July!

 

HARVEST:

Continue to harvest lettuce and radishes as well as beets, peas and courgettes. If you have long-season or perpetual raspberries and strawberries, they are still fruiting now. As are cherries!

Onions and garlic are beginning to topple over, which is the sign that they are getting ready, but wait until the onion tops turn yellow before lifting them. Then, either leave them on the ground or, better, spread them in a well-aerated box or basket to dry them well.

Early runner beans and potatoes are also getting ready.

 

Harvesting herbs

Now is the prime time to harvest herbs. For culinary purposes, it is best to pick herbs before they begin to flower. Choose a dry, sunny day. Spread them out in a well-aerated place. Hanging them up in bunches actually encourages mould. Herbs often have a high content of volatile oil, which quickly ‘fly off’ in hot temperatures. Thus, it is best to dry them in the shade.

 

SOWING (for late season/winter harvest):

Now is the time to sow winter cabbages, kohlrabi and kale, mustards, and pak choi. If you have carrot seeds of late varieties, sow them now.

If you have a shady spot, you can continue to sow lettuce, chard, endive, chicory, chervil, radishes, coriander, as well as rocket and spinach. Keep them well watered and not in full sun to prevent them from bolting too quickly.

 

TOMATO CARE

Tomatoes need a lot of water. Keep the moisture in the soil by spreading a thick layer of mulch around the base of the plants. If they don’t get enough water, the skins turn harder and will crack as the fruit develops. The best time to water is in the evening or early morning. Avoid splashing water directly on the leaves.

You can give your plants a little boost by putting some compost around the base. Or, use liquid manure, such as nettle manure, or some other organic tomato feed that you might find at the garden centre.

Watch out for blight and end rot. Remove yellowing leaves. Pinch out any shoots that develop in the leaf axils.

 

WATERING

Water your plants as needed, neither too much nor too little. Container plants are particularly vulnerable to drying out and need the most attention. Mulch well to keep the moisture in the soil.

Check out SeedsNow for your organic gardening supplies!

 

Happy Gardening!

 

Image by Cornell Frühauf from Pixabay

Gardening Jobs in June

Gardening Jobs in June

There are plenty of gardening jobs to do in June!

If you thought that now the growing season is in full swing you can kick back and relax, you are mistaken. June is a rather busy month in the garden, especially if you want to continue harvesting veggies in the fall and winter.

 

But first things first:

Slugs and snails are very hungry at this time of the year. You will have to beat them to it if you want some of those veggies for yourself. Regular slug hunts at dusk and dawn are the most effective way to keep them at bay.

To keep the soil cool and prevent it from drying out, mulch all around your plants, especially around thirsty ones such as tomatoes and zucchinis. Mulching also helps to control the slugs.

Water regularly, but not excessively.

By now, your tomatoes should be in the ground. Gently tie them to their support and pinch out the side shoots.

On hot days, make sure you don’t forget to ventilate the tunnel or greenhouse.

Harvest herbs, such as savoury, oregano and lemon balm before they begin to flower.

 

Sowing:

Hurray, it is finally warm enough to sow Basil and Coriander!

You are probably already harvesting lettuce, rocket and radishes, and maybe even snow peas. For successive crops, continue sowing them until the end of July.

You can sow beans now, but protect them well against slugs – they love the young shoots!

If your season is long enough and the climate reasonably mild, you still have a chance to sow courgettes and pumpkins -but hurry up, it is getting late! Young plants can be planted into their permanent position now.

Autumn/winter veggies like autumn leeks and brassicas like kales and cabbage can be sown until the middle of June.

The middle of June is the end of rhubarb and asparagus harvesting time.

 

Wildlife

Don’t forget the animals at this time of the year – they really appreciate a source of clean cool water and some seeds or fruit.

Check out SeedsNow for your organic gardening supplies.

 

Happy Gardening!

 

Image by Krzysztof Niewolny from Pixabay

Permaculture – Paradigm Shift for a Sustainable Way of Life

Permaculture – Paradigm Shift for a Sustainable Way of Life

It is easy to get down on the way things are going in the world – climate change is no longer a fringe topic, yet any plans to address it fall far short of what would be needed to halt it. Growing levels of pollution, consumer goods designed for the landfill, destruction of habitats and ecosystems all contribute to our demise.

It is easy to give up and resign oneself to the ‘that’s just the way it is,’ mentality while burying one’s head deeply in the sand. One person alone can’t do much anyway, so why bother worrying about anything, right?

Wrong! It doesn’t have to be that way. And right now, as we are beginning to see the light again at the end of the tunnel, we have a unique chance to do things differently. One thing many of us have learnt to appreciate over the past year or so is the importance of nature when all the entrapments of our postmodern lifestyles begin to crumble.

Paradigm shift

Things are changing, quietly and persistently. People are looking for a quieter, more sustainable way of life and the idea is spreading, sprouting at the grass-roots level, from one community to the next.

It has been said that the next revolution will be fought in our gardens, and I am beginning to see it that way, too. It will be fought with peas and love – a non-violent, lifestyle revolution called ‘Permaculture’, a growing movement, not just across the country, but across the entire globe.

You may have heard of it. Sometimes referred to as the ‘no-dig system of gardening’, many conventional growers, and even organic growers, dismiss it as a naive and impractical way to feed the multitudes around the world. And, perhaps that would be true if the aim was to swap industrial farms for permaculture farms while continuing with ‘business as usual’ with our economic system.

But that is an illusion. Industrial farming is on the brink of collapse – its ‘paradigm’ based on ‘war against nature’ and ‘war against insects’, its soils are depleted and ecosystems have been degraded, just to maximize short-term profits. To that end, GMO seeds are engineered to withstand being doused with toxic chemicals. The result is predictable: resistant ‘competitors’ – so-called superweeds and insects from hell. Has the message got through yet, that we cannot win this war? And that continuing to fight it will mean our certain demise?

paradigm shift

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

The paradigms of Permaculture, on the other hand, are based on abundance, cooperation, and sharing. Permaculture seeks to restore rather than exploit ecosystems. ‘Thinking globally and acting locally’ – If yields are higher than what is needed, they can be sold on a wider national or international market. But, let’s produce local food for local people.

Presently the marketplace is based on cash crop economics, exploiting disenfranchised communities. Their land is ‘grabbed’ by multinationals and turned into monocultures – like palm oil, coffee, or bananas. Peasants have no land nor time to grow enough food to feed themselves. Instead, they barely survive on the pennies they earn for their labour in this ‘feudal’ system that has its roots in colonial times.

We can’t change the whole world at once, but we can start in our own backyards. We can create cooperative permaculture farms sharing harvests with neighbours and friends, thus reducing reliance on industrial agriculture that brings us products from around the world at an enormous human and environmental cost.

How is Permaculture different from Organic Farms?

Permaculture design is fundamentally different from all types of conventional agriculture – even organic farms. Permaculture seeks to imitate and cooperate with nature. One of the ‘fathers’ of Permaculture, Bill Mollison, grouped its philosophy into three ethical paradigms and 12 principles.

The ethical paradigms speak for themselves:

  • care for the earth,
  • care for people and
  • fair share

The 12 principles of permaculture require a bit more of an explanation:

1. Observe and Interact:

Permaculture aims to work with nature. The gardener observes and tries to understand the processes that are at work in a given habitat, then interacts with these to support some features and maybe discourage or relay others.

2. Catch and Store Energy

Resource management is a crucial aspect of the system – water and compost are crucial resources. By recycling greywater and building catchment areas for rainwater, it can be harvested and retained instead of losing it to run-off.

Likewise, biomass is returned to the soil in the form of compost and mulch. The continuous process of nurturing the soil restores its vitality. Instead of becoming depleted it is invigorated and restored.

3. Obtain a Yield

Permaculture is not intended as an act of ‘self-sacrifice’. We all need to live and our ‘input’ must produce some kind of worthwhile ‘output’. Ideally, our gardens would provide for all our needs, but it is limiting to think of ‘yield’ only in terms of consumable ‘products’. Aesthetics or relaxation can also be a ‘yield’.

4. Apply Self-Regulation and Accept Feedback

In a world of limited resources, we need to strive for balance and ensure that not only our present needs are met, but that the needs of generations yet to come can also be met. And that the ecosystem as a whole (with all its interactions) must be taken into consideration. Permaculture aims to produce abundance for all the species that share a particular space. The effects of our actions take a while to manifest. We should always observe and respond to the ‘feedback’ we are getting and be prepared to change our ways if the effects turn out to be damaging to any part of the system as a whole.

5. Use and Value: Renewable Resources and Services

Nature supplies us with everything we need. Make use of all the resources that are already available, share and trade, upcycle or repurpose things that are already at your disposal instead of buying new stuff.

6. Produce No Waste

As an extension to the 5th principle, consider the impact of everything you buy or produce. Kitchen scraps can be composted – but what about all the plastic? If it can’t be recycled, reused, repaired or repurposed it is ultimately designed for the waste dump and will continue to be a burden on the planet for a long time to come. Aim for zero waste.

7. Design: From Patterns to Details

Before starting to work on a plot, consider the seasons and weather pattern, geological patterns and features. Clever design can save you work. Utilize whatever is available to maximum effect. Focus first on the overall patterns, then fill in the details.

8. Integrate Rather Than Segregate

Nature does not create monocultures – they leave crops vulnerable to pests and diseases. Instead, nature creates eco-systems that thrive in unison. The pests of one plant are the ‘helpers’ of another or food for the birds. The balance is kept in check and neither becomes dominant if the garden is geared towards producing abundance and diversity.

In Permaculture, garden plots are not planted with single varieties, as plant communities composed of various species that can thrive together within the garden ecosystem.

9. Use Small and Slow Solutions

We frequently think that we need ‘big’ solutions to deal with big problems. But often the opposite is true – especially when it comes to gardening. The earth is made up of millions of micro-environments that call for special adaptations rather than a one-size-fits-all solution. Working at a smaller scale also means it is more manageable.

10. Use and Value Diversity

Diversity is a key concept of permaculture. Natural conditions are constantly changing and organisms respond by adaptation. Different species have evolved to thrive in different conditions. We never know what sort of weather we may have during the growing season – and given the effects of climate change, weather extremes have become the norm, rather than the exception. The best way to safeguard food security is to plan for these extremes by planting different varieties of the same species to spread the risk. Depending on actual weather conditions that year, certain varieties will thrive while others won’t. Food security depends on diversity – not on just a few, patented seeds that have been manipulated to resist the chemical weapons of industrial agriculture.

11. Use Edges and Value the Marginal

The margins are the most interesting areas of the garden. This is where different elements can interact and adapt. In nature, marginal environments are often the most diverse. Socially, too, the ‘fringe’ is where new ideas are born.

12. Creatively Use and Respond to Change

Change is the only constant. By anticipating change rather than resisting it, we can use it as an opportunity and adapt to the challenge.

The 12 principles of permaculture apply to small or large scale horticultural projects and even to large scale ecosystem restoration. But permaculture is not only about food. It is ultimately about ecology, which includes human ecology – human/nature interactions. It is about restoring the integrity of the web of life, of which we are but one strand among many.

Resources:

Banner image by John Hain from Pixabay

Gardening Jobs in May

Gardening Jobs in May

Gardening Jobs in May

What gardening jobs are there to do in May? In my neck of the woods, April has been unusually cool and wet. I didn’t manage to get all my April jobs done, and my ‘gardening jobs agenda’ for May is rather full. The wheel of the year is turning, and the garden does not wait.

Potatoes

If you managed to get all your potatoes planted in April, they are probably developing their first leaves by now. That is the time when you can start to earth them up for the first time. Cover the leaves with soil so only the tops are peeking out. Repeat this process regularly as the plants grow and develop.

Sweet Corn

If you are planting sweet corn, you can sow them in deep pots indoors now. That way they will get a head-start. Transplant them to a sunny spot in June.

Beans

Once there is no more risk of late frosts you can begin to sow all kinds of beans outside (runner, broad, dwarf). They like a sunny spot, but not too hot. Protect them from the slugs and snails – young bean shoots seems to be their favourite snack. If slugs are a big problem, it is best to start the plants in seed trays and transplant them only once they are strong enough to withstand a slug attack.

Warmth-loving plants: Tomatoes, Peppers, Courgettes, Aubergines

Your tomato, aubergine and pepper plants are probably growing fast now. There comes a point when they seem to be yelling, ‘get me out of here and plant me into the garden!’ Resist the temptation unless there is no more danger of late frosts in your growing zone. But, to appease them, you can start to harden them off. Take them outside during the day, but bring them back in at night.

You can also still sow cucumbers and melons – but keep them warm and protected for now.

Salad Veg and Greens

Sow batches of salad vegetables like radishes and lettuce, as well as Swiss chard and rocket to ensure a continuous supply.

Root crops

You can still sow root crops such as carrots, beetroots, leeks and turnips.

Winter Veg

Sow Leeks and brassicas for overwintering. It is best to start them off indoors to protect them from slug- and insect attacks.

Kitchen Herbs

It is also the perfect time to sow warmth-loving herbs such as basil and coriander. These also need to be protected from ravenous slugs.

Weeds

May is lush! Everything sprouts and grows – including the weeds. But no need to curse them – if you can’t beat them – eat them! Check to see what wild edibles are among the garden weeds that could be turned into a ‘foraged’ dinner. Bishop’s Weed, Stinging Nettles, Ground Ivy, Wild Garlic and Dandelion are all excellent in the ‘wild food cuisines’.

Flowers

If you have open spots in the borders you can sow annuals like Californian poppies, or nasturtiums for extra colour in the summer. The bees and insects love them, too.

Maintenance Jobs

There are always maintenance jobs that need to be taken care of:

  • If you have a pond, check for pondweed and algae and clean it out if necessary.
  • Build supports for climbing plants.
  • Keep bird feeders and birdbaths clean.

Happy Gardening!

 

 

Check out SeedsNow for your organic gardening supplies.

 

Pin It on Pinterest