August in the kitchen garden brought an abundance of colour and a very promising beginning to a large harvest of all kinds of fruit and vegetables…
Over the past month, Becky has had her hands full keeping on top of all the beautiful blooms in the garden.
The stunning dahlias have needed dead heading. The chrysanthemums have been pruned to a height of around 9 inches, then disbudded (leaving only four buds per plant) – this results in four flowers with long, straight stems, which is ideal for cutting.
The perennials that have now gone over are being cut down, and the annuals are being pulled out. All these tasks ensure that the first section of the kitchen garden is vibrant and colourful.
Some of the less visible tasks for this month have been planting biennials out from the greenhouses into the flowerbeds, and sowing hardy annuals for next year into the greenhouses. This year for the first time Becky is planning to plant the hardy annuals out into the flowerbeds once they shoot (in a few weeks). Previously they would have spent winter in cold frames. It will be interesting to see how they fare! This has been made possible by the rabbit proof fencing which has been installed over the past two winters and will be completed this year.
Stefan has spent a lot of time this summer propagating strawberries, which is a huge ongoing task. He finds that the simplest way to increase the number of plants is to allow them to propagate themselves – then just to remove the new plants and plant them safely into pots. The first year of new plants results in good fruit, but not a lot of it. Stefan finds that the fruit crop is always best in the second year of the plant. By the third year, usually the plants will have succumbed to vine weasel (this happened to a huge portion of last year’s crop). At present, strawberries planted as seeds in April are coming up and have reached the point where they need to be repotted. All these first year strawberry plants also need constant deflowering, in order to save energy for the fruit. So, there’s a constant maintenance cycle of labelling, documenting and renewal.
The tomatoes in the polytunnel are fruiting now, and the fragrance is wonderful. They will continue fruiting throughout September and October. The plums have now been picked, and the Katie apples (vibrant red dessert apples) are ready to be picked too. The summer pruning of the apples and pears has been completed and the rest of the apple varieties will be ready for picking in late September, and the pears in October.
The green figs in the polytunnel are also close to ripe – these will be picked in September. The best variety to grow here, Stefan finds, is brown turkey.
Glenn has spent August harvesting a variety of crops, including main crop potato varieties such as 'Pink Fir Apple', 'King Edward', Highland Burgandy' & 'Picasso'.
Glenn has also been busy lifting and storing onions.
These are being left to dry out in the glasshouse as it's too wet outdoors, and will be hung up to store through the winter.
Beetroot, chard, carrots, kohl rabi, turnips and all different types of beans are also being picked regularly, and French beans are being planted out.
The herb border has filled out and is looking great at the moment. Autumn lettuces are being planted out into the raised beds too. A range of fresh herbs, salad leaves and edible flowers are harvested daily for use in the house.