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August 31, 2014 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Gardening tips for September, by Apley’s Head Gardener

2014-08-08, Veg boxEvery month, Phil Allen, Head Gardener at Apley Walled Garden, sends me his gardening tips. This is also published in the Shropshire Review & County Woman. This photo of is one of the delicious weekly veg boxes we’ve enjoyed at home from the Walled Garden (our consumption soars with all the children home for the holidays !). Fill your own in Apley Farm Shop or call Phil on 07746 01 30 50 or the Shop on 01952 730 345 to pre-order. Enjoy his September tips here:

“September is the relief of the children going back to school & the abundance of harvest; so make sure you harvest your entire crop as your garden will be producing prolifically & the abundance should be magnificent. Dig up root crops (apart from parsnips which taste better after a frost) & potatoes before slugs wreak their havoc & dry thoroughly before storing in boxes or paper sacks. Remember to evict any diseased or rotten tubers, so they can’t spoil the rest of your crop.

Fast maturing vegetables such as beans, courgettes, peppers, cucumbers & tomatoes must be picked regularly or they lose their youthful freshness & become stringy, tough & bitter. Any outdoor tomatoes should be picked by the end of the month & ripened inside. Keep them on their trusses for the ‘on the vine’ look & make chutney out of any that refuse to ripen. Marrows, pumpkins & squashes should be left in the sun for a few days to harden the skin. Then dry them off before storing in a cool, dark place.

If you love your herbs, now is the time to cut & freeze herbs in ice cube trays. Pot up chives & mint for the winter, so you can still enjoy them as you cook through the winter months. Lift a clump of growing herbs, divide & pot up using multi-purpose compost. Cut back old foliage, water well & wait for your winter crop to appear.

Fruit

Protect your fruit – birds & wasps love fruit as much as you do, so think about investing in a fruit cage for next year if your crop is disappearing in front of your eyes.

Prune – cut out fruited canes of Summer raspberries & tie in any new canes for next year. Make sure you only keep the healthy canes & cut out weaker stems, especially rogues that appear in pathways.

Plant – new fruit trees from mid- September onwards once any really dry weather is over. New trees prefer warmish soil to establish their root systems, especially nectarines & peaches. Other fruit trees can be planted later as they are less sensitive to the cold.

Vegetable of the month – Peas

Today, when we think about peas, they are generally frozen, uniform in size & colour & very bland. This is because they have been bred to be ripened at the same time on low dwarf sized plants, making crop picking by machinery much quicker & easier.

However the humble pea comes in all shapes & sizes & is the oldest vegetable growing in our garden. It was one of the first crops to be cultivated by the ancients simply because they were dried before eating, making them very transportable, highly nutritious & a good bulking food. It wasn’t until the 1300s that we started to eat them fresh from the pod. This idea seems to have stemmed from Italy where the pea was known as piselli novella. But it is the petit pois that we are most familiar with, which may be due to Henry II’s wife  Italian born Catherine de Medici who brought over her favourite foods from France in the 1500s. Sadly many varieties of peas have been lost over time due to commercialism, but if you look you may be able to find some old varieties such as Alderman, Carlin, Champion of England (which I have grown myself), Prince Albert & Tutankhamun. The latter variety is so named because peas were found in a vase from the tomb at the British Museum, who later presented them to a Mr Grimstone. He claimed that one of them germinated after 35 days & had a small crop. This is highly unlikely after 3000 years as even seeds in packets only 2 years old fail to grow ! Perhaps Tutankhamun peas are best left in the tombs anyway !”

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