Tidying and clearing up the Vegetable Plot
13th Sep 2003
September is undoubtedly one of my favourite months in the garden, it's a time for reflection and also a time to be thinking about tidying and clearing up the vegetable plot. However, we should still get some nice warm growing days although the evenings will be cooler with a distinct hint of Autumn in the air.
Climbing French Beans and Runner Beans
The summer grown vegetables are now approaching maturity and in order to make sure that we still optimise our cropping potential, do make sure that pods on plants such as Climbing French Beans and Runner beans are picked on a regular basis.
With these plants it"s very important to regularly and continually pick off all the beans slightly before they reach maturity. If you don't do this, the plant will soon change it's emphasis from producing flowers and pods to swelling up the beans inside the pods, a natural process which renders them tough and inedible. Even if you have a glut of these beans, share them around between your friends or freeze them. With the application of copious amounts of water at the roots you should, even now, be able to enjoy tender young beans through to the first hoar frost.
If your soil is in good heart, then you'll have experienced some good cauliflowers as they seem to have produced excellent hearts given the endless hours of sunshine they've had. You can still harvest excellent late Summer/Autumn cauliflowers now, but with a little help and know how, you can make them top class. If the curds are starting to form within the dense foliage then it's time to start feeding them twice a week with a high Potash feed such as Phostrogen. It's a fact that all brassicas love plenty of Nitrogen, particularly during their early development, it helps to create a much larger and bigger expanse of leaf. However, for the last two weeks or so of their development the change in emphasis from Nitrogen to Potash will pay dividends. This will really help to, not only increase the size of the curd, but also to improve it's weight and quality.
Nobody likes to harvest curds that have turned yellow or even have brown marks on them, the best way of protecting the curds is to tie the foliage together at the top when the curd is between two and three inches in diameter. This way the heart will be totally excluded from daylight and, the pressure that the curd will be under when swelling between the ribs of the leaf, will produce a tighter and heavier cauliflower all together. Carrying out the above is far superior to just snapping off leaves to cover the heart, the winds can so easily remove them totally wasting the whole point of the exercise in the first place.
It's very easy to overlook weeds at this time of year, we tend to think that the season is now drawing to a close and no more needs to be done. Keeping the hoe moving is therefore the answer, it doesn't take long, and the effective removal of weeds before they are allowed to set and shed their seed will prevent them from being active next year. If you have a really overgrown piece of ground, or if you have a new patch of land that you want to grow vegetables on next year, now is the perfect time to apply a translocating herbicide containing Glyphosate. This chemical kills most plants that are green, whether they are annual or perennial but has no residual effect on contact with your soil. It permeates through the foliage into the plants sap and down into the root system killing the whole plant.
Do make sure that the ground is moist so that the plant is actively responding and not locked up through drought. The weather must remain dry for a few hours after application and the plant will take about three weeks to show any effect. It's particularly effective at this time of year on such invasive weeds such as Japanese Knotweed. As the plant is preparing to die back totally over the winter months, the receding sap flow will translocate the chemical down to the powerful root system. This will be much faster and far more effective than during Spring or early summer when the sap flow is powerful and flowing strongly upwards. Use Roundup GC as a concentrate if you want to make your own dose or Roundup Ready to use Faster Acting Formula which is already made up and are available at most garden centres.