Seasonal Tips – Mid August to Mid October

No Dig Organic Gardening Master Class with Charles Dowding
29th January 2020
Seasonal Tips: November, December, January
7th November 2019

We are coming up to the most prolific time of the year when the kitchen garden really comes into its own. We have collected a bumper selection of tips to see you through the summer holidays into autumn harvest time.

1. Be watchful: From now on, keep a watchful eye out for fungal diseases, and caterpillars on brassicas. Especially:

  • Grey mould and mildew on crops and blight on tomato plants and potato haulm – more common in wet seasons, but be vigilant. The biodynamic remedy to help prevent and control fungal diseases is Equisetum (horsetail) Spray it in the evening on the soil under affected plants. For maximum effect, apply 2-4 days before a full moon.
    Remove any leaves that show signs of disease, either burn or dispose of with recycling bins – don’t add to the compost bin
    Store potatoes somewhere dark and cool, and check every week for any signs of infected tubers. See here for more detailed information on tomato and potato blight
  • The caterpillar season starts in full earnest in August and carries on into the autumn. It’s a good idea to go over brassica plants every day, checking under the leaves and deep down in crevices. Hand-picking the caterpillars off is the easiest solution. Or try:
    Tip: lay side shoots pinched out of tomato plants between the cabbages to send the cabbage white butterfly on its way.

2. Keep picking: The golden rule for green beans and courgettes. Pick little and often to keep the plants flowering into September and you should be able to crop through September and hopefully into October if the weather holds.

3. Water wisely: Water when plants need it, and water the plants not the surrounding area, directing it to the base of the plant. Early morning is best. More water know-how here
Tip: Climbing beans are thirsty plants, and need regular watering. They will often look wilted on a hot afternoon, but often revive overnight. If the plants look wilted in the morning, they need watering.

4. Save your own: Saving your own seeds is dear to our biodynamic hearts, and a fun and interesting gardening skill to develop. This video will inspire you and get you started. The easiest seeds to save are undoubtedly bean seeds – broad, French, climbing and runner beans. All are delicious, too, to add to autumn & winter soups & stews.
Saving tomato seeds is also popular. Check out Julie Moore’s how to guide here

5. Time to grow green: As we explain growing green manures ticks all the sustainability boxes. if you don’t have an edible crop planned for the winter, September is the ideal time to sow an over-winter green manure on cleared soil such as field beans, field peas or winter tares. Sow on a leaf day if you want bulk of matter to dig in or root days for the leguminous types – weather permitting, favourable dates in September are:
Leaf days:
Thursday 5th Sept 6 pm through to Friday 6th Sept ending at 10am
Saturday 14th Sept through to Tuesday 17th Sept ending at 9am
Tuesday 24th Sept 6am through to Wednesday 25th Sept ending at 4 pm
Root days:
Monday 2nd Sept through to Tuesday 3rd, ending at 3pm
Monday 9th Sept 7pm through to Thursday 12th Sept, ending at 3am
Thursday 19th Sept 7pm through till Saturday 21st, ending at 11pm
Saturday 28th Sept 4pm through to Tues 1st Oct 1 am

6. Plant garlic: Easy, takes 5 minutes, can be grown in containers and takes up hardly any room. Buy good quality organic garlic bulbs to start, thereafter you can use your own .
Autumn plantings of garlic provide the longest possible growing season and that all-important chilling period (at least a month below 10⁰C) that results in the best bulbs. Choose a root day to plant the cloves. This link tells all
Tip: Pop a few cloves in a pot, and harvest the immature plants in spring like chives to give a fresh garlic flavour to dishes.

7. Liven up your soil: Applying the biodynamic soil activator (horn manure preparation) is fundamental to growing biodynamically. Apply while the soil is still warm in late Sept/early Oct on cleared beds to keep the soil ‘alive. Apply in the late afternoon avoiding bright sunshine if possible.
Tip: Good weather and soil conditions are more important than following the planting calendar.

8. Garden wilding:
This gives Nature the best chance of thriving over winter, and ensures your garden is always a haven for biodiversity. Come autumn, don’t be too overzealous when tidying the garden. It provides food and shelter for a host of living creatures. The seed heads of annuals such as sunflowers, for example, provide a food source for birds over the coming winter months. The hollow stems of dying plants offer shelter for over-wintering insects, so leave and cut back in spring.

9. Planting calendar know-how: As summer evolves in autumn the emphasis shifts to harvesting and using the calendar can be very useful for helping your lovingly grown produce to stay fresher and store better. How? Experience has shown that:
– by choosing ” Fruit” days for the harvesting of fruit crops ( ie all plants that are grown for their fruit or seed such as beans, peas, tomatoes, cucumber, courgettes, squash, pumpkins, peppers, aubergine, apples, pears, berries cherries, plums. grapes etc) their keeping qualities are enhanced.
– seeds saved from your fruit crops harvested on ” Fruit” days appear to grow better plants when sown the following season.
– by choosing the 2- week moon rhythm known as ” ascending moon” ( indicated in the planting calendar as ” Southern Transplanting Time” ) as well as a fruit day OR simply on any day during this period – for harvesting your fruit crops – they keep better for longer-term storage.

Fruit days in August 2019 are:
Sunday 11th 3am – through to Monday 12th Aug – ending at 7am.
Wednesday 21st 3pm and all day Thursday 22nd Aug
Monday 26th Aug 10am to 6pm
Wednesday 28th Aug 1am1pm
Saturday 30th Aug 6am to 1pm
Ascending moon period:12th Aug – 24th Aug

Fruit Days in September 2019 are:

Sunday 1st Sept 5am9pm
Thursday 5th Sept 4am5pm
Friday 6th Sept 11am through to Sunday 8th Sept 11am
Monday 9th Sept 6am – 6pm
Friday 13th Sept 10am – 8pm
Tuesday 17th Sept 10am through to Thursday 19th Sept 6pm
Wednesday 25th Sept 5pm through to Friday 27th Sept 2pm
Ascending moon period 8th Sept – 22nd Sept