September in rearview mirror

leeks and endive

While at the beginning of the month we were still eating tomatoes and kidding ourselves that summer was forever, the morning fogs, the scent of burning wood and the colorful leaves of this past week are clearly telling us that whether we’re ready or not to move on, summer is.

Our harvest changed from zucchini and cucumbers at the beginning of the month:

september harvest

To root vegetables, leeks and endive at the end of it:

september harvest

September in the garden meant storing away produce: we brought in our squashes – all three of them. I only planted two winter squash plants this year (I do love squash but it just claims too much precious garden space) – “Uchiki Red Kuri” from which we’ve harvested three brightly colored fruits and butternut squash “Rugosa Violina Gioia” from which we’ve harvested nothing. Butternut squashes need more warmth to start setting fruits and they only started doing that at the end of August but then the fruits rotted away.

Uchiki red kuri squash

The apple harvest has been very good – from all our four trees. We have also visited an organic orchard and picked other varieties that keep a bit longer and lots of pears. The quince in our street was so laden with heavy fruit, the branches were breaking (I am planning to prune it severely this winter). Because of this abundance, I ‘ve been busy in the kitchen making batches of heavily spiced apple butter, poaching pears in wine and baking quince. There’s always something delicious in the fridge to eat with a dollop of yogurt as a dessert, which makes the family very happy because my usual answer to “What’s for dessert?” is “Have an apple”.

Manks Codlin apples

Most excitingly: we have harvested our first quinoa ever. After the prices of organic quinoa went through the roof, I decided it was time to try growing it. The growing part was pretty easy, but the winnowing is a bit time consuming. The plants produce around 30 to 40 g seeds each, so we would need to plant a lot more than the twenty odd plants for a substantial harvest. But it was fun and I will save some seed to grow it again next year.

quinoa and red peppers

Though the sweet potato plants have grown well, I fear there will be very little (if any) harvest. When I lifted the fabric to have a look, I found lots of holes, presumably made by voles. Now I do not even know whether there were any tubers to begin with.

sweet potatoes

This month I also saved some seeds, from sweet peas which is as easy as picking the dried-on-the-plant pods and storing them, and from the tomato “Matt’s Wild Cherry”. It is the most blight-resistant variety I have come across, but in the past I had to order the seeds from Tomato Fest and ordering a couple of packages of seed from America is not very economical. So now I saved my own seeds, which will hopefully also have the added bonus of the plants being more adapted to my local growing conditions.

Mid September, I sowed winter salads in the cold frame: leaf chicory and leaf mustards (Scarlet frills, Osaka Purple, Yellow Frills, Green in the Snow, Purple Mizuna). I also replanted a few parsley and celery plants into the frame for a continuous harvest of fresh herbs. I have sown some corn salad (aka lamb lettuce) outside, since it’s hardy enough to cope with our winters without protection.

sowing winter greens in a cold frame

Other than that, we are putting compost or well-rotted manure on the empty beds and trying to stay on top of the weeds.
Gardening in september is pretty relaxed compared to, say, April!

allotment in september

Happy gardening!

p.s. This is what our garden looked like in September 2013

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